In-Store Health Clinics Here to Stay

TakeCare, Walgreens, Kansas City, Mo., offers basic health services for routine conditions.

During the past few years, retail health clinics have been opening with increasing frequency in stores across the country, including Wal-Mart, Target, CVS and HEB Co., to name a few. A new study suggests that the clinics, which are staffed mostly by nurse practitioners or physician assistants and offer quick service for routine conditions, are a lasting trend. Indeed, the 2008 Survey of Health Care Consumers, from the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, Deloitte LLP, finds the demand for in-store medical clinics is real and growing—and the potential for future success is substantial.

Among the findings:

More than one in three consumers surveyed are receptive to the idea of using retail clinics, and one in six already have;

Interest in such clinics is especially high among baby boomers, with nearly 38% saying they would frequent one;

By generation, seniors are the least likely and Generation Y is the most likely to use a retail clinic;

The uninsured are more likely to visit retail clinics than the insured; and

In-store health clinics are particularly popular among those who are identified as being in better-than-average health and more distrustful of hospitals and doctors.

The survey noted that a patient’s comfort level with retail clinics rises when the clinic extends beyond the simple nurse-practitioner structure: If the nurse has a computer-based support system or an affiliation with the practice of a local physician, the percentage of consumer comfort increases.

There are more than 700 health clinics now in operation at chain stores across the country, according to the survey. Industry experts expect the number to more than double by yearend.