In-Store Clinics Lay Claim to Convenience Niche

Discussion
Nov 29, 2007

By George Anderson

The assumption that in-store medical clinics would work best in areas where consumers were lacking both financial resources and health insurance is being seriously challenged by the experience of RediClinic.

According to a report on the Forbes website, RediClinic, has opened 32 clinics in middle-class neighborhoods and found that the convenience factor is one of its biggest selling points. Consumers, with both money and health insurance, find they can pop into a clinic to have minor health issues addressed instead of waiting days or perhaps longer to see a doctor in a scheduled office visit.

Webster Golinkin, the chief executive of RediClinic, told Forbes, “The current health care system is designed to treat a small number of complex cases. We are in the business of treating a large number of simple cases.”

The success that RediClinic has found in middle-class areas is a decidedly different path than first plotted by the company. Back in 2005, when it first set up clinics, RediClinic focused on low-income areas. Mr. Golinkin and company soon discovered, however, that even with lower prices than those charged by doctors, it was not attracting enough patients to make money. The company eventually shut down clinics in stores in poor neighborhoods as a result.

To be successful, RediClinic could not count on regular patient walk-ins and so the company began marketing itself to businesses and health insurance providers.

One company that RediClinic has worked with is Popeyes Chicken & Biscuits. Deborah Elkins, benefits manager at Popeyes, told Forbes it costs nearly twice as much for the company to send one of its employees to a doctor than to a RediClinic.

Health insurance companies are also slowly coming around to the idea of working with in-store clinics. In RediClinic’s case, the company offered free cholesterol tests as part of its deal with Aetna.

Discussion Questions: Where do you see the future of in-store clinics? Does the RediClinic experience suggest that these types of operations won’t be able to make it in poorer areas? Do you see convenience being more important than price in positioning in-store clinics to consumers?

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8 Comments on "In-Store Clinics Lay Claim to Convenience Niche"


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Carlos Arámbula
Guest
14 years 5 months ago

It’s a great concept. And it has to be approached as category development.

I believe it might be early to say the concept won’t work in lower income areas. Lost time is money for most middle income households so it makes the segment a natural early adopter for the concept. It will take time and money to educate potential consumers, but if it’s done right the concept will revolutionize basic health care and pharmaceutical retail in this country.

The reality is that lower income patients are not fluent in navigating the healthcare maze. RediClinic can be an option for basic health needs that often go unattended in lower income communities.

Bill Robinson
Guest
Bill Robinson
14 years 5 months ago

RediClinic’s experience doesn’t have much to do with its location. It’s unique because it has taken a marketing perspective where the customer is king.

Most medical clinics and doctors in private practice have no idea that they are retailers. RediClinic is breath of fresh air.

David Biernbaum
Guest
14 years 5 months ago

RediClinic will thrive or dive depending on what politicians decide to do, if anything, about health care in the U.S. Without any type of true medication to our current health care “system” the RediClinic in stores will be widely used by lower-income consumers and middle-income consumers that do not have adequate health insurance to make visits to more traditional health care facilities. There are millions of people that are not covered adequately because either they cannot afford the outrageously expensive health care plans on their own and do not work for employers that give them coverage.

David Livingston
Guest
14 years 5 months ago

I find that the in-store clinics are priced too high for low income areas. Free clinics and emergency rooms are staffed with doctors and don’t cost poor people anything. In-store clinics want cash. I used an in-store clinic two months ago at Wal-Mart. It only cost me $9 after the insurance discount. But I had to have health insurance to get the discount. I found out that the insurance company is now encouraging the use of these clinics. Since health insurance is a luxury for the middle and upper class, I would think these clinics would want to be in higher income areas.

Ben Ball
Guest
14 years 5 months ago
The prime reason for being for clinics is speed of service and general convenience. Lower cost than a traditional healthcare facility visit is a plus for most–more properly aligning cost of minor services with their true value to consumers. Convenience is primarily a time benefit in today’s world, and should apply equally to the drive/wait time to get to the Mercy Hospital ER to see Intern-Just-Graduated as it does to getting to Gold Star HealthCare to see Dr. Muckety Muck. Both upper and lower income consumers have reasons to value the convenience. The difference of course, is that for the middle incomer it is a cost decrease and therefore an additional positive. For the indigent who are used to free care, they have to decide whether it is worth the ten or twenty bucks to be seen immediately at the clinic. Here’s an idea–since the rest of us are really paying for that “free” healthcare anyway, how about we subsidize the clinics in poor areas and gain the benefit of their lower cost of service… Read more »
Mel Kleiman
Guest
14 years 5 months ago

It is all about the price for the service. If they can provide service at a lower cost, they will build a clientele in the lower income area. If not, they will build a clientele in the middle income and even the higher income area because of convenience.

At the lower end, money/cost is the major driver. At the middle and upper end, time is the scarce commodity.

So in-store clinics should have appeal at all income levels but for different reasons.

Mark Lilien
Guest
14 years 5 months ago

If in-store clinics can get Medicaid contracts, they’ll do well in poor neighborhoods. Otherwise, they’re for the middle class and above.

Ed Dennis
Guest
Ed Dennis
14 years 5 months ago

RediClinic won’t make it in poor neighborhoods. The residents have been conditioned to only go where services are free or where the provider won’t litigate. The best location for RediClinic is an area where people have money and are short on time.

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