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‘Time is right’ for convenient care industry growth

BY Antoinette Alexander

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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Nutrition iQ continues to move customers in right direction

BY Michael Johnsen

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — If only it were as easy as a voice in our heads screaming “Recalculating!” when we’ve taken that turn down the candy or chip aisle in the grocery store, then maybe diabetes and obesity wouldn’t quite be the epidemics that they are. Supervalu’s nutrition iQ comes about as close to an actual dietary GPS as you can get without affixing a Garmin to the shopping cart handle, and it’s a program that elevates the overall shopping experience to boot.

(THE NEWS: Supervalu expands nutrition iQ program. For the full story, click here)

Rather than suggesting a wrong turn may have been made, nutrition iQ offers the road signs that will help shoppers navigate any aisle, even the candy and chip aisles. And what’s even better is the engine driving this eat-this-not-that signage — Joslin dietitians and Supervalu nutritionists.

Beyond shoppers making smarter decisions as to what sits in their pantry however, nutrition iQ also sets the stage for Supervalu to fulfill the role of being a health destination. Anything you need to become healthier or maintain health can be found under one of Supervalu’s banners, from the food and supplements on the shelves to the pharmacists and nutritionists behind the bench.

“We strongly believe that a single destination where customers can find fresh food [and] have access to full pharmacy services [will] help customers achieve personal health goals, whatever those may be,” Chris Dimos, Supervalu’s president of pharmacy, told Drug Store News when nutrition iQ was first hitting store shelves. “We want to become a solution center for the sick [and] a destination for the healthy."

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FMI VP retires

BY Allison Cerra

ARLINGTON, Va. — A group representing the nation’s food retailers and wholesalers announced the retirement of its VP state government relations.

Bill Manteria will leave his post at the Food Marketing Institute March 15, a position he held since 1998, FMI said Friday. In his role, Manteria was responsible for directing the organization’s state government relations department and its relationship with the State Government Affairs Council, monitoring and developing industry responses to key state legislative and regulatory issues affecting the retail food industry, the organization said.

“[Bill Manteria’s] knowledge and experience in state government affairs has benefitted FMI members across the country,” said Leslie Sarasin, FMI president and CEO. “We will miss him and we wish him all the best as he begins this new chapter in his life.”

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