In-Store Clinics Follow the Money

May 27, 2009

By George

Since in-store clinics were first introduced, it has been commonly repeated
that the facilities manned by nurse practitioners would provide less affluent,
often uninsured, consumers with access to basic medical care at a price
they could afford.

Now, as it
turns out, in-store clinics do provide affordable and convenient healthcare.
They just aren’t in neighborhoods that fit the stereotype
of the less affluent user of these services.

A new study,
published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, suggests that if in-store
clinics are going to be made accessible to poorer people, governments are
going to have to come up with incentives to get them to set up shop.

"Many people have
promoted retail clinics as a cure for access to care for the underserved,"
Dr. Ateev Mehrotra of the University of Pittsburgh, told The Associated
. "These findings show that’s unlikely to happen."

Laws, director of the California Healthcare Foundation’s Innovations for
the Underserved, said that just because in-store clinics are not located
in poorer neighborhoods does not mean they are not serving consumers in
those areas.

"People go out
of their neighborhoods to work and shop," she told the AP. "I
don’t think we should make the assumption that they won’t go out of neighborhoods
to seek health care if it offers customer service, better hours and transparent

Discussion Questions:
Does being located in more affluent areas, for all practical purposes,
mean that in-store clinic services are basically closed to poorer consumers
or do they travel to seek medical attention as suggested by some? Should
retailers and in-store clinic providers work with government in a private/public
partnership to offer services to underserved areas?

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7 Comments on "In-Store Clinics Follow the Money"

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Doron Levy
Doron Levy
12 years 11 months ago

The sole purpose of these clinics is to get people into the store. That’s it. We are very simple in retail and our motivations are clear. This is not a public service and anyone telling you that will then try to sell you something. The foot traffic generated by stores is extremely valuable, especially when you have a strong pharmacy program. The clinic’s deployment is a demographic concern, not a social one.

Mel Kleiman
12 years 11 months ago

From all the research I have done it was presumed going in that the store would be most effective in areas that were under-served. This was proven wrong that the clinics that have proven most successful have been in those areas that are more affluent. Since the set up of these stores was based on profit motive, unless the clinics are generating a profit they will be closed and move to a different location which has been the case so far.

Gene Detroyer
12 years 11 months ago

Standalone clinics may provide better access for the poor, but did anyone actually believe that in-store clinics were to service those with less access to healthcare? In-store clinics are designed to provide more convenient services than the more formal healthcare alternatives. And if more convenient, more people visit the store and buy other products. In-store clinics will be built in stores where that clinic offers the largest cross-store ROI. It is that simple.

Domenick Celentano
Domenick Celentano
12 years 11 months ago

I am most familiar with the CVS Minute Clinics. I don’t believe the consumer thinks CVS is doing this from an altruistic basis, rather is it convenient and as we all know, affordability is the hot button for the consumer these days. These “clinics” will become more mainstream as health care costs continue to escalate. The consumer is becoming “smarter” about shopping for value and these clinics provide that.

Do we really need a doctor to diagnose a sinus infection and prescribe an antibiotic? The landscape is changing everywhere in retail, so clinics such as CVS will provide more value as time goes by.

David Livingston
12 years 11 months ago

In-store clinics want to be paid money for their services and poor people want charity. Therefore the two don’t mix and the result is we don’t see in-store clinics in poor neighborhoods. In-store clinics are not free clinics. While their pricing structure might be less than the emergency room, their prices are way beyond the means of lower income people.

Ed Dennis
Ed Dennis
12 years 11 months ago

In-store (emphasis on store) clinics are like in-store pharmacies–they are there to make a profit. Only a socialist would have assumed that clinics would pop up first in depressed economic areas. However, that said, if the clinics find success it would follow that they will spread outside of suburbia and will eventually be available to the economically disadvantaged–but not for free! But without the strong financial base provided by the private sector these clinics would never have been available to anyone.

Tim Henderson
Tim Henderson
12 years 11 months ago

Lower-income consumers can travel to in-store clinics located in more upscale areas to receive medical attention. But the larger issue is actually getting more store clinics up and running in less-affluent areas. Public/private partnerships between governments, the traditional healthcare system, retailers, non-profits and others are definitely one way to make that happen. And a better economy wouldn’t hurt either.

The rollout of store clinics has slowed given the recession. But keep in mind that this is still a relatively new concept on the retail scene. It’s very likely that store clinics will dot the retail landscape for many decades to come. And they’ll obviously spread and morph over time by, for example, gradually assuming more of the minor healthcare procedures now handled by an increasingly overburdened traditional healthcare system, specializing to serve specific demographics and moving into more underserved areas.


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