Docs in a Box: Threat or Opportunity

Docs in a Box: Threat or Opportunity

Convenient care clinics seemed novel when they popped up in pharmacies and supermarkets a decade ago. And for a time they didn’t appear to have much spin. But lately, their reach and popularity have surged.

According to a Rand Corporation study, visits to retail medical clinics rose from 0.6 monthly visits per 1,000 Aetna enrollees in January 2007 to 6.5 visits per 1,000 enrollees in December 2009. The actual number of clinics rose 11.2 percent, to 1,355, in 2011, according to the New York Times, compared with just 3 percent growth in 2010 and flat growth in 2009.

Patients praise the benefits of retail clinics like MinuteClinic in CVS stores and Take Care Clinics in Walgreens: convenient locations, no appointments needed, short wait times, and evening and weekend hours.

Should primary-care providers and healthcare systems feel threatened? Is it a good idea to partner with a convenient care clinic or venture into a retail location on your own? Will that cannibalize your existing ambulatory networks? Here are some steps to attain more robust knowledge and make healthy decisions.

Plan strategically with objective data. Incorporate analytical tools in your planning process to determine need and reduce risk. Patient and trade-area information can point to growth opportunities in your market as you review whether you need new facilities to address overburdened providers, from primary-care clinics to emergency rooms.

Forecast potential and impact. You can score any potential site in any geographic area to assess the location’s viability for success or failure. Combine your own patient data with our household-level data, segmentation data and more, to build predictive models and run “what-if” scenarios. Our web-based SCOUT tool provides real-time answers.

Ensure compatibility. Some healthcare systems are using retail clinics as first-touch experiences or backups for primary-care clinics. Predictive modeling can help you forecast potential outcomes, too, and optimize your network.

Before you vote for or against retail, we suggest you start thinking like a retailer.