Clinics boom as care moves closer to home
As the healthcare landscape continues to undergo significant changes, a new report by Marketdata Enterprises puts a number against a highly valuable and fast-growing segment of health care that will continue to grow regardless of who is elected president and what happens to healthcare reform: retail-based health clinics.
The September 2012 report, titled “The Market for Retail Health Clinics and Urgent Care Centers,” examined the operations of both convenient care clinics and urgent care centers.
“Health care is moving closer to the consumer — at home via telemedicine and online, and where they work and shop (e.g., supermarkets, drug stores and big-box chains, such as Target and Walmart). Consequently, investors, retailers and hospital systems have recognized this, and the number of ‘convenient care’ clinics and ‘urgent clinic’ centers is growing strongly. It’s likely to stay that way through 2016,” according to the report.
Right now, the urgent care centers are the big piece of the pie, dwarfing retail health clinics both in terms of revenues and number of locations.
However, DSN believes that will eventually change. Why? Retailers like Walgreens, CVS, Kroger, Target and Walmart can deliver a scalability that regional urgent care operators simply cannot. For one thing, such retailers already have the stores and the best real estate.
According to Marketdata, an independent market research publisher of studies about service industries, average revenues per retail clinic are $512,000, making the market worth about $694 million in 2011. Marketdata analysts forecast that by 2016 there will be about 2,700 retail clinics in operation, generating revenues of $1.38 billion.
“Roughly 20% of the total number of clinics from 2014 on will be new ones. One would expect their caseloads to be lower than ‘mature’ or established clinics. However, the [Patient Protection and] Affordable Care Act and the primary care MD shortage, plus the influx of 32 million new people into the healthcare system, should override that,” the report stated.
In a statement sent to DSN, Convenient Care Association executive director Tine Hansen-Turton said, “CCA expects to see significant growth in the sector in the next couple of years, and it’s exciting to see how the model of care has helped transform health care to be consumer-driven.”
At the higher end of the e-prescribing curve
According to Surescripts, almost 400,000 physicians — about 58% of all office-based doctors — were e-prescribing at the end of 2011. The net effect: About 36% of all prescriptions were sent electronically in 2011.
For the full report, click here.
How does that match up against Accent-Health/Patient Views panelists? Fully 36% of patients told AccentHealth they were given a choice of how they would like to receive their prescription, either electronically or on paper. Overall, 51% said they are receiving their scripts electronically, but when given the choice, almost two-thirds say they would choose e-prescriptions.
In all, nearly 750 patients participated in the online survey, conducted by AccentHealth from July 19 to Aug. 1.
It’s important to understand that Accent-Health patient-panelists are not your average consumer. They are high users of health care, particularly pharmacy care, filling 63% more prescriptions a year than the average consumer and visiting the pharmacy about 66% more frequently in a typical year than the average. If you want a better understanding of what’s important to pharmacy patients, it probably makes sense to ask the people who use the pharmacy most.
Patient Views is a new, exclusive consumer insights feature that appears in every edition of DSN magazine, as well as the daily e-newsletter DSN A.M. If you could ask 4,000 patients anything at all, what would it be? Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Retail clinics, pharmacy take hold as health access solution
Another factor greasing the skids for health system/retail pharmacy/clinic alliances is a clear shift in cultural and societal attitudes. The nation appears to be ready for the integration of retail pharmacies and walk-in ambulatory care centers with hospitals, and the use of those community-based outlets as initial points of contact with health professionals for many health concerns and conditions.
That fact is borne out by a nationwide survey of more than 34,000 households conducted by Boehringer Ingelheim in 2011. A large majority of Americans, ranging from 69% to 76% of respondents, told BI researchers they were “very comfortable” discussing such chronic conditions as Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, high cholesterol, stroke and kidney disease with their community pharmacist. They also put a high value on pharmacists’ in-depth counseling services and knowledge of their specific conditions.
Significantly, more than 9-in-10 patients who responded to the survey also said it was important that their pharmacy’s staff coordinate care with other healthcare professionals — e.g., doctors and nurses — seen by members of their household.
Increasingly, the provider and payer communities also are ready to accept the new health network paradigm, BI reported. “The acceptance of retail clinics by other players in health care has evolved from initial skepticism to curiosity to increasingly comprehensive collaborations,” the report noted. “By building relationships with other players in the industry — pharmacy, [primary care physicians], hospitals, health systems, [health maintenance organizations] and payers — retail clinics are creating new opportunities for enhancing patient care.”