Signs continue to point to growth for retail health clinics

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT'S IMPORTANT — Two speakers at the American Telemedicine Association’s annual meeting last week had positive words for the convenient care industry and essentially told attendees what Drug Store News has been saying for some time: Retail clinics are poised for significant growth.

(THE NEWS: Retail clinics positioned for dramatic growth. For the full story, click here.)

As the article stated, Health Resources chairman and CEO Ron Hammerle, and Jay Sanders, president and CEO of at the Global Telemedicine Group and Health Resources VP, told attendees that smartphones, medical centers of excellence, automated clinical labs and digital medical devices will transform retail-affiliated clinics into global ports of entry to prime health care at dramatically lower costs to patients, physicians, employers, governments and insurers.

Hammerle also said that such clinic retailers as Walmart, Walgreens, CVS, Safeway, Kroger, Target and Rite Aid are beginning to see "major growth opportunities.”

As DSN has stated, this year is looking to be a significant year for the convenient care industry as retail-based health clinics gear up for expansion and move even closer to version 2.0.

With an anticipated growth of consumer-driven care and more of the burden for managing costs falling on patients’ shoulders, expect retail clinic visits to continue to rise, clinic operators to open more locations and services to increasing extend beyond treating acute ailments and further integrate with medication therapy management.

In fact, CVS Caremark just reported on May 2 that its MinuteClinic business experienced nearly a 22% boost in revenues during the first quarter.

During the quarterly conference call with analysts, CVS Caremark president and CEO Larry Merlo told analysts: “It is important to note that, while MinuteClinic is a small business relative to the overall enterprise, it does receive a fair amount of airtime with [pharmacy benefit management] clients. It is an important piece of our integrated strategy, and our clients are very interested in how MinuteClinic can help them reduce costs while keeping their members healthy. We believe our plans to double our clinic count over the next several years should position us well to play an important role in solving the primary care physician shortage, especially with millions of newly insured individuals expected to the healthcare marketplace.”

Meanwhile, Kalorama Information, an independent healthcare market research firm, has stated that, through 2015, retail clinic sales are expected to continue expanding, rising by 19.3% per year to reach $1.7 billion.

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