New study examines the potential value proposition of retail clinics
NEW YORK — Retail health clinics are now a part of the health care landscape with the potential to become a much more powerful enabler of a “culture of health,” according to a recent report by Manatt Health, the health care division of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips.
The report, titled “Building a Culture of Health: The Value Proposition of Retail Clinics,” examines the potential value proposition of retail clinics. It was guided by an advisory committee, and informed by published research and interviews with 20 retail clinic experts and stakeholders.
According to the paper, prepared for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the number of retail clinic sites increased almost 900% between 2006 and 2014, from 200 to 1,800, and the number of visits increased sevenfold from approximately 1.5 million to 10.5 million in 2012, representing upwards of 2% of primary care encounters in the United States.
“Demand for convenient access to care for low-acuity, time-sensitive conditions or routine preventive services has been fueling clinic growth. The vast majority of clinic users reported that the primary purpose of their most recent clinic visit was the diagnosis and treatment of a new illness or symptom, followed by vaccinations and prescription renewals,” the report stated.
The report also noted that telehealth has the potential to reduce cost and improve both access to care for rural and underserved communities and support treatment of patients with acute and chronic conditions at retail clinics and beyond as live telehealth consults can be used to extend the scope of consultative, diagnosis and treatment service options.
Researchers noted, however, that there are several hurdles to overcome such as scope-of-practice rules that constrain services in many states and a lack of government reimbursement. Researchers noted, for example, that Medicare only covers reimbursement for telehealth in limited settings, and never in retail clinics.
“Retail clinics are businesses operating on thin margins, and like any other low-margin business, they must pay close attention to reimbursement for the services they provide and the direct and indirect revenue they generate for the retailer. And while retailers, health systems and payers recognize the impact of social determinants on health outcomes, most have not yet embraced initiatives that help improve population access to in-store offerings and public programs that address their non-clinical needs. These are weighty challenges; if retail clinics overcome them, they have the potential to become a much more powerful enabler of a Culture of Health,” the report stated.