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Partner With Retail Clinics to Boost Brand, Downstream Revenue

Marianne Aiello, for HealthLeaders Media, December 7, 2011

Two healthcare organizations that partnered with retail health clinics have already begun reaping the benefits. Wuesthoff Health System in Rockledge, FL, opened two health clinics in local Walmarts in 2009 and 2010, co-branding the centers as "The Clinic at Walmart Operated by Wuesthoff Health System." Walmart gave the health system complete control over the clinic, so long as prices were transparent.

Wuesthoff found that the clinics do indeed keep non-emergency patients out of the ED—in a survey, 15% of its Walmart patients said if the clinic had not been available, they would have gone to the emergency room. At the same time, affiliated primary care physicians have also seen an increase in patients, resulting in a jump in downstream revenue in Wuesthoff hospitals.

Similarly, Lehigh Valley Health Network in Allentown, PA, partnered with Geisinger Health System's Careworks Convenient Healthcare in 2008 after it opened two clinics within supermarkets in the health system's market. While LVHN entered the clinic business reluctantly, because of concerns about physician competition and different standards of care, executives are pleased with the results, having seen an increase in specialist referrals that they can trace back to the clinics. The partnership is co-branded as "Careworks together with Lehigh Valley Health Network."

By partnering with retail clinics, hospitals are able to take better control of their futures. Operating retail health clinics is good for a hospital's brand because it lets potential patients know the organization is innovative, convenient, and price-conscious.

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