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Growing Number of In-store Clinics Could Signal Sales Opportunity

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The number of retail health clinics is expected to more than double by 2015. With millions of Americans acquiring health care under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), annual growth of these clinics is expected to rise by 25% to 30% a year, reaching well over 2,800 in the next year (from 1,400 in 2012).

Primary care providers will have the ability to ease their workload from the influx of newly insured customers, as retail clinics are collaborating more with and hospitals and primary care doctors. Once looked at as the competition, these clinics can deal with “everyday” illnesses, shots and vaccines, while doctors can now focus on more serious patient conditions and complex treatments.

Consulting firm Accenture reports that "the number of patient visits at retail clinics should account for 10 percent of non-primary care outpatient visits by the end of 2015 and could generate up to $800 million in health care savings since retail clinics are less expensive than doctor visits.”  Most retail clinics like CVS’s MinuteClinics, are staffed by nurse practitioners or physician’s assistants, rather than doctors.

While stores are counting on clinics to bring in more overall sales, traffic may be somewhat seasonal in nature during the winter flu season. That’s why expanded services, such as including weight control programs, are popping up, like the ones at H-E-B’s RediClinics. What’s unique about RediClinics is that they offer “Weigh Forward,” a medically supervised weight/lifestyle management program. Based on “real food,” the program is naturally well-suited for a supermarket, where patients can purchase the items they need to follow the weekly meal plans.

H-E-B also wisely markets to its RediClinic patients by placing displays of popular OTC drugs and other health-related products near the clinic entrance.

Supermarkets, which incorporate health clinics, add additional profit in the form of increased pharmacy sales. It’s estimated that 80% of prescriptions written at in-store clinics are filled in the store’s pharmacy. OTC medicine sales have risen at these stores, since medical practitioners often recommend them when prescriptions aren’t necessary.

Even beauty services are becoming prescription-based as in-store clinics are turning to dermatological treatments. Though Botox isn’t being administered—yet—retail clinics are reaching beyond their core set of minor illness treatments, vaccinations and wellness screenings to include options for lengthening eyelashes, eliminating unwanted facial hair and lightening freckles, age spots and other skin discolorations. Visits that lead to prescriptions for Latisse, Vaniqa and Lustra—the brand names for the drugs addressing these issues, respectively—are now offered at Target Clinic and the H-E-B RediClinics.

These kinds of offerings may also stave off cyclical lows after cold and flu season exits.

The Little Clinic, which has facilities in 80 Kroger, Fry’s and King Soopers stores in Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Arizona and Colorado, started offering corticosteroid injections for poison ivy outbreaks, which occur during slower summer months.

A spokesperson for CVS noted, "Part of the appeal (to the retailer) is you're getting people who wouldn't come to a CVS or get people to come more frequently. When they leave the store they leave with more things. A high percentage of them will fill prescriptions at the pharmacy and then they may pick up a gallon of milk…. Also, from a consumer viewpoint, a lot of people don’t have regular doctors and walk-in clinics are conveniently located with convenient hours.”

With high hopes for increased store traffic from more in-store clinic visits, employment in supermarket and drug chains, which house these clinics, could see real growth. Retail staffing firms are just the ticket for providing needed staff to accommodate the shopper influx.

Diversification of treatments and offerings are expected to help retail clinics survive slower periods until millions more uninsured Americans seek additional channels for care under the Affordable Care Act.

TAGS: retail, retail trends, retailers,
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