The fact that Take Care has hit the one millionth-patient mark is important because it is yet further evidence of just how quickly convenient care has ramped up in recent months, and offers a hint of what’s coming. While patient satisfaction, quality care and convenience contributed to the growth of the market, there’s no doubt that a recently launched marketing campaign, and the growing number of clinics that have opened over the last year has significantly helped bolster foot traffic.
Take Care announced in mid-October the launch of a new multimedia advertising program. The campaign, dubbed “Life Diagnosis,” is the first integrated ad campaign since the clinic operator was acquired by Walgreens in May 2007 and is its first major branding initiative to focus on building healthcare around people’s lives. The ads are meant to capture real life healthcare challenges and to illustrate how Take Care clinics can serve as a healthcare alternative for consumers looking for quality, affordable and convenient care. The campaign has a specific focus on cough, cold and flu and coincided with the official start of cold and flu season, and all Take Care clinics beginning to offer flu vaccines.
And Take Care hasn’t been alone in all this; its biggest competitor MinuteClinic, which currently operates approximately 550 retail clinics, launched a national ad campaign in September for its Fall flu shot program through its parent company CVS Caremark. The result: By the first week of December, MinuteClinic announced that it had given away more than 1 million flu shots in the fall. Company research has demonstrated that more than 30 percent of these patients who received a flu shot tend to return to MinuteClinic for some other service later on during the same cough-cold season.
All of this has added up to an increased number of patient visits for the top two clinic operators. As clinics have expanded and these marketing campaigns have rolled out the numbers are ramping quickly: In June, when Take Care had just about 170 clinics, the company announced it had hit patient no. 500,000; my mid-October, Take Care reached 750,000 with just about 225 clinics, and now that number stands at 1 million patients, with almost 320 clinics.
And it’s not just the two biggest clinic players that figure to benefit here. Other clinic providers that operate in the same markets as Take Care and MinuteClinic are likely to see an uptick in patient counts, as the ads raise overall consumer awareness for retail clinics and the services they offer. Drug Store News believes this is one of those cases where all boats likely rise with the tide.