With health reform and health cost imperatives driving the need to find alternative, community-based ways to deliver more cost-effective follow-up care, the retail clinic model could be poised for a new round of rapid growth.
Pharmacy-based walk-in care centers offer some compelling advantages to a health system in dire need of alternatives. Amid the increasingly expensive cost of care provided by hospitals and physician groups and the growing shortage of primary care physicians, retail clinics offer patients and health plan payers accessibility, convenience and a far cheaper brand of care for routine illnesses, health screenings and first aid.
“The demand for health care is steadily growing as the population ages and increases, creating some strain on often overworked hospitals and physician practices,” noted Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals in a report on retail clinics. Those clinics, BI noted, provide “a way of addressing this issue.”
“The number of ‘convenient care’ clinics and ‘urgent clinic’ centers is growing strongly,” noted a report issued in September by Marketdata Enterprises. “It’s likely to stay that way through 2016.” Marketdata projects the size of the retail clinic market to reach 2,700 clinics with combined revenues of $1.38 billion.