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Health Care in the Express Lane: Retail Clinics Go Mainstream

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Publication Date: September 2007

Publisher(s): California HealthCare Foundation

Author(s): Mary Kate Scott

Topic: Health (Hospitals and other health care facilities)

Type: Report

Coverage: California


Located in drug stores, groceries, and other mass merchandisers, and offering a limited menu of services, retail-based health clinics have captured the attention of the media, public, investors, and the medical establishment. Typically staffed by nurse practitioners who provide diagnoses and prescriptions to customers on a walk-in basis, the clinics have proliferated rapidly, from 62 at the beginning of 2006 to more than 500 today, with forecasts of more than 1,500 by the end of 2008. This report updates the findings of Health Care in the Express Lane: The Emergence of Retail Clinics, published in July 2006. It describes the forces, individuals, and companies behind this fledgling industry, and notes that its evolution has been driven, in large part, by acquisitions and partnerships with national retail chains such as Target, Walmart, and CVS, as well as major health care systems. While the fundamental business model remains the same, clinic operators have made different strategic decisions with regard to scope of services, type of retail outlet, and geography. The report explores these different models and their organizational philosophies, as well as the extent to which insurers are reimbursing for care delivered in the retail setting. It also probes the legislative forces shaping the national supply of clinics, with special attention on the opportunities and challenges involved in establishing retail clinics in California.