'Time is right' for convenient care industry growth

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT'S IMPORTANT — Larry Merlo’s comments during the recent J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference on the upswing in acute visits at MinuteClinic is important because it speaks to the fact that 2011 is the beginning of the second wave of clinic expansion.

(THE NEWS: Acute visits climb as MinuteClinic preps for rapid growth. For the full story, click here)

New healthcare legislation that will afford some 30 million uninsured people health insurance — coupled with the aging U.S. population and a shortage of primary care physicians — will benefit the convenient care industry and undoubtedly will drive industry growth.

Not only are health systems all across the country becoming more engaged but also clinic operators are gearing up the wave of expansion. For example, MinuteClinic plans to open more clinics at a rate of about 100 clinics per year, beginning this year. This growth plan will enable the company to double the number of clinic locations over the next five years. By 2015, MinuteClinic estimates it will operate about 1,060 clinics in 100 markets.

In December, RedlClinic announced plans to open 20 new clinics in H-E-B stores across Texas, nearly doubling the number of clinics operating within select H-E-B locations. "As demand for primary and preventive care continues to outstrip supply, and as costs continue to escalate at unsustainable rates, new delivery models are emerging. RediClinic has spent the last five years developing a new
model of care that increases access and reduces costs without sacrificing quality, and the time is right for us to begin making it more widely available,” stated Web Golinkin, RediClinic's CEO, when announcing the expansion plans.

Clearly, the time is right not only for RediClinic but for other clinic operators as well. There’s no doubt that 2011 will be a year of growth for the convenient care industry.

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