Health Care in the Express Lane: Retail Clinics Go Mainstream

Mary Kate Scott


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This is archived content; for historical reference only.

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, these clinics have proliferated rapidly, from 62 at the beginning of 2006 to more than 500 in 2007, with forecasts of more than 1,500 by the end of 2008.

This 2007 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 reimbursed for care delivered in the retail setting. It also probes the legislative forces shaping the national supply of clinics, with special attention to the opportunities and challenges involved in establishing retail clinics in California.

The complete report is available under Document Downloads.