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Retail Clinic Market Showing Signs of Growth

Janice Simmons, for HealthLeaders Media, November 18, 2009

Despite the slow economy, the number of healthcare retail clinics has increased about 15% during the past two years, according to a new report released by the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions. And more of these clinics are beginning to ally themselves with established healthcare organizations.

The current growth rate pales in comparison to when the retail clinical market rocketed to a 350% increase in 2007. The economic downturn in December 2007 changed this course dramatically. Retail clinic market growth will likely slow from 10% to 15% from 2010 through 2012, but accelerate above 30% from 2013 2014 as the economy improves, according to the report, "Retail Clinics: Update and Implications."

As of July 2009, 1,107 retail clinics were in operation nationwide, according to the report. Most retail clinics operated in retail pharmacy settings (82%) or as departments or wholly owned subsidiaries of host organizations, such as grocery stores (12%) or big box discount stores (6%).

"Retail clinics represent a new channel that can deliver primary care services more conveniently and at lower cost to consumers," said Paul Keckley, PhD, executive director of the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions.

The growth rate hides the fact, though, that some clinical retail chains saw reductions in the number of their sites. Nearly 150 clinics closed in 2008, with 55% of those closings linked to smaller retail operators and start ups that eventually left the market. RediClinic reduced from a high of 50-plus clinics in 2007 to 35 in mid 2008 to only 20 clinics by mid 2009.

MinuteClinic—the largest retail clinic chain which is now owned by CVS Pharmacy—shed 27 clinics and closed 104 of its clinics during the summer months. It has 451 clinics in operation.

Also, 2009 saw increased activity by large acute care organizations entering into retail medicine via contractual arrangements with drug store and grocery chains. One example was an agreement announced late last month between MinuteClinic and Allina Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. MinuteClinic has 24 locations in the Twin Cities area.

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