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May 18, 2015

Although more Americans than ever have private insurance or Medicaid coverage due to the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (PPACA), access to care continues to worsen as the number of primary care physicians has not kept pace with the clinical demands of an aging population and newly covered patients. The need for additional care settings, along with recent increases in patient out-of-pocket costs, has prompted the growth of nontraditional health care delivery settings such as retail clinics and urgent care centers.

Several major hospital and health systems have recognized this trend and, in addition to extending office hours and expanding urgent care offerings, are also partnering with national pharmacies and retailers to establish walk-in retail clinics. Texas Health Resources, one of the largest health care systems in North Texas, is emblematic of this trend, having been in a retail pharmacy clinic partnership with CVS / Caremark for two years and, more recently, with Target.

Given this experience, A&M had a discussion with Barclay Berdan, Chief Executive Officer of Texas Health Resources, to better understand the emerging role of retail healthcare: “The retail clinic was a relatively easy model for us to get into. Our relationship with CVS and Target offers a low-cost option with convenient access for the public without having to take a half day off work to meet their minor medical needs.”

In this article, we examine this shift in care delivery site from emergency departments and physician offices to urgent care centers and retail clinics. We analyze how retail clinic strategies are being designed to promote positive patient experience and timelier access to care. We review how hospital and health care systems are recognizing that new health care delivery sites and channels are an increasingly important determinant of patient acquisition and retention, as well as a source of cost savings relative to over-utilized emergency room departments. And we evaluate how new care sites such as retail pharmacy clinics have the potential to extend health care provider brand equity and serve as a lower-cost point of “capture” for new patients.

Retail Healthcare: Growing Trend for Healthcare Service Delivery (pdf)