With the Advent of In-Store Clinics, is Whole Health Finally Coming of Age?

Discussion
Sep 21, 2006

By Laura Klepacki, Special to GMDC


When AOL founder Steve Case plunks his millions into a business concept, the market tends to take notice. After all, Case’s forerunner Internet service for the masses helped popularize the use of email that forever changed the way the world communicates.


So will Case’s development of RediClinic impact how Americans connect to their health in unprecedented ways as well? Already, the company is operating 11 units in stores including H-E-B in Texas and Duane Reade in New York. It has inked a deal to open 16 units with Walgreens in the Atlanta market. By 2009 it intends to have 500 units up and running. The point is to make health and wellness accessible and affordable by staffing with nurse practitioners and physicians assistants, keeping doctors focused on the more serious ailments.


Of course, Case is not a lone ranger. He just emerged as the most visible spokesperson on the topic. In July, CVS acquired current market leader MinuteClinic boasting 83 units in 10 states, three-quarters of which are located in CVS stores. There are others too, such as instaClinic that will make its debut in four Schnuck supermarkets in St. Louis this fall.


The concept of whole health has been circulating for at least ten years now. Will these centers really push Americans to turn their attention from disease management to wellness and prevention?


Supermarket operators, meanwhile, believe they are best positioned to keep America strong – with one-stop shops offering foods, nutritional supplements and very often prescriptions that can be pulled together and marketed in one tight wellness program.


The pharmacy staff at K-V-A-T is being educated on healthy food products and industry initiatives such as the produce Five-a-Day and the dairy Three-a-Day programs. On top of that, 40 pharmacists have been certified to administer injections for its flu vaccination program this fall.


At Bashas, pharmacists participate in in-store clinic programs such as ‘medicine cabinet checks’ where shoppers bring in their old prescription bottles for evaluation. The pharmacy also holds events with packaged food manufacturers including Kellogg and Con Agra.


Discussion Question: How healthy an idea is the in-store
clinic? How “whole” do retailer health and wellness initiatives need to be?
Financially, will these departments be self-supporting? Will the expectation
of increased cross-department shopping come true and be the real key to success?

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19 Comments on "With the Advent of In-Store Clinics, is Whole Health Finally Coming of Age?"


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Dan Nelson
Guest
Dan Nelson
15 years 8 months ago

The bigger issue is the challenge of traditional health care, and 1 in 5 people living in the US without medical coverage that are forced to seek out alternative, less expensive ways to get needed care.

This widening gap is being filled by the In-Store Clinics so they will reap success as an alternative. When In-Store clinics offer consultation on a more healthy lifestyle plan, (including diet changes), supermarkets will benefit. That stated, we can only hope that the primary importance of cost effective medical coverage takes a priority in congress soon, and In-Store Clinics are a cost effective alternative vs. the only alternative for many Americans.

Warren Thayer
Guest
15 years 8 months ago

If it’s convenient and economical, it will fill shopper needs and help differentiate the store. The differentiation will fade, obviously, if this becomes common. This is all to the good. If done right, it certainly falls within the category of the store being the shopper advocate, which is, increasingly and at long last, what it’s all about.

Karen Ribler
Guest
Karen Ribler
15 years 8 months ago

The clinics are a good idea. Their success will depend on convenience, reliability, and cost. Accessibility and trust are big factors here. I do believe, if done right, a valuable service to the community can take hold. The halo effect for the supermarket has great potential. (The reverse is true as well).

Bernie Slome
Guest
Bernie Slome
15 years 8 months ago

The success of this program will depend upon a) the type of care being given, b) the cost to the consumer, c) the profit per sq ft. and d) increasing the traffic in the stores. This is pure and simple retail 101. Create another reason for a consumer to come into a store and by staying longer, they will spend more.

Mike Blackburn
Guest
15 years 8 months ago

If this type of coverage could come under most insurance plans…this concept could take off; cheaper for the insurance company and more convenient for the insured. It’s always a hassle to have to schedule a doctor appointment for the ear aches and sinus infections. With a new drugstore opening on every corner and Wal-Mart offering $4 generics…drugstores need to act now to assure their future.

Ed Dennis
Guest
Ed Dennis
15 years 8 months ago

I really don’t think this will become a reality for several reasons:
1. Not enough doctors to staff these things.
2. Insuring one of these units would be very expensive.

If someone is really serious about health care, then I would think that a series of advertisements on the TV shows that are popular with the non-reading masses would be a great start. Emphasis could start with weight control and good nutrition. This country is about to implode with adult diabetes fostered in part by excessive weight and poor eating habits. Why don’t we tell people about blindness and limb amputation caused by diabetes and let them know how they can help themselves and others? I guess, as always, our population cannot be responsible for anything.

Odonna Mathews
Guest
Odonna Mathews
15 years 8 months ago

The success of in-store clinics will depend on their convenience, cost and the confidence they offer consumers. Some consumers will feel comfortable using these clinics, and others will not. These services are only one part of any whole health strategy combining food and pharmacy related products and services.

David Livingston
Guest
15 years 8 months ago

I can tell you when I go to my doctor, the office is always empty and I’m seen right away. After the insurance discounts my bill, it’s always cheaper than what I could have done at an in-store clinic. Those who think the uninsured are going to go to these clinics and pay cash will be disappointed. These clinics are not free clinics. These clinics can only provide a limited service anyway. Pretty much the kind of stuff poor uninsured people don’t really care about. If they have to pay for it, then for sure they don’t want to go. The emergency room is still the best option for the uninsured. They are never going to pay the bill anyway.

Ciri Raynor Fenzel
Guest
Ciri Raynor Fenzel
15 years 8 months ago

In-store clinics are a great example of a product/service bundling strategy that can differentiate a retailer by offering more value for the consumer. The success of the strategy will hinge not only on the cost/benefit ratio but on how effectively the “whole health” message is communicated through advertising, particularly in store.

Preventative and non-medicinal wellness is certainly a hot button right now, but it has to be sold in a believable, trustworthy and aspiring way. Do consumers really understand the benefits of the retailer and clinic coming together? Are pharmacist and staff as well trained as they need to be for consumers to perceive them as experts and wellness coaches?

The whole health in-store clinic strategy is strong with great benefit to both retailer and consumer; however I see quite a bit of communication trial and error ahead.

Dave McConnell
Guest
Dave McConnell
15 years 8 months ago

In-store clinics offer tremendous opportunities for retailers to brand their outlets as the health and wellness destination in the communities they serve. In an environment where non-pharmacy supermarket operators are looking for a way to play in the health and wellness arena, the existence of these clinics in their stores could allow them to do so. These clinics can also offer a way to reach those customers who are not covered by medical insurance or prescription drug programs and are handling their family’s health and wellness management by utilizing OTC products. Within the food retailing environment, execution of effective in-store clinic programs must function as a connector between the customer and other segments of the store where health and wellness needs can be met. The GMDC study “Leveraging the Connection Between Pharmacy and the Whole Store” offers strategies for creating connectivity. Any RetailWire subscribers wanting a complimentary copy of this study can contact GMDC to obtain a PDF or printed copy.

James Tenser
Guest
15 years 8 months ago
Kudos to Ms. Klepacki for highlighting this notable event in the evolution of in-store health clinics. Her story provokes several observations: Steve Case’s Revolution company is also the grey eminence behind the recent expansion of the Miraval Resorts (based here in Tucson) that promote a healthy body/healthy mind lifestyle experience for people on luxury budgets. Case is on a mission to re-define healthcare in America: “Health care is really sick care,” he said at a LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability) conference in April. The notion of health clinics (staffed by trained nurse practitioners, I think, not MDs) located within supermarkets opens several tantalizing possibilities beyond merely prescribing remedies and referring the seriously ill. How about professional advice on nutrition strategies for promoting wellness? Advice on supplements? On weight control? In-store seminars on wellness lifestyle strategies? All could contribute to loyal customer relationships and promote sales of health-promoting grocery products. Finally, a note of concern: I’m still a bit uneasy about the prospect of attracting people infected with cold and flu viruses into the same… Read more »
Mark Lilien
Guest
15 years 8 months ago

At least 30 years ago, mass merchants (Sears, J.C. Penney) and drug stores (Eckerd) inserted optometrists and opticians into their stores, usually as leased departments. Department stores inserted opticians, optometrists, and podiatrists even earlier. The in-store optical locations made (and still make) millions. Isn’t it surprising that the natural next step, in-store medical clinics, has taken so long?

All sorts of personal services logically belong in retail stores. How come department stores, mass merchants and drug stores don’t offer manicures and pedicures? Why don’t more department stores offer spa services (massages, facials, steam rooms)? Why no in-store chiropractors? Why don’t the medical clinics have physicians as well as nurses? How come Ikea is the only national retailer that has a child care center in every location? Why are craft stores, like Michael’s, the only retail channel that’s serious about giving lessons?

s sarkauskas
Guest
15 years 8 months ago

For Jim, worried about sick people coming to the grocery store: They already do. They hack and sneeze and walk about bleary-eyed seeking the OTC remedies and orange juice. They also do their regular shopping because, sick or not, they don’t feel they can take time off from work or rely on their spouses or just plain don’t have anybody else to go to the store and get food for the household.

In-store clinics, even if pricey, would be great for the time-pressed parents, if school physicals, immunizations, ear infection care and the like were available. I can’t get in to see my doctor in less than 10 days for “routine care” such as blood tests, blood pressure, sugar checks, etc. And the waiting room is packed. I’d gladly pay more than my co-pay to have somebody look at a rash sooner rather than later.

M. Jericho Banks PhD
Guest
M. Jericho Banks PhD
15 years 8 months ago
In the mid 80s at Ketchum Communications in San Francisco I coordinated marketing/advertising efforts for a “Docs-In-A-Box” introduction in the city. Walk-in diagnostic & prescription locations for non-ER applications. First aid could also be administered. So, 90% of everyone in the facility was sick, injured, or both. We could never get the locations to smell good, or even antiseptic. More like “eau de streetperson.” Good idea questionably executed. Later in the 80s, I consulted with a large Southeastern supermarket chain on a weight-loss diet program in which customers “weighed in” at store locations after subscribing to and following a produce-heavy meal regimen. Most readers have never heard of it, because the connection between the supermarket and health was never made successfully. History repeats itself, and there is a new effort to connect supermarkets and health. Clearly, there are far more pharmacies in supermarkets than during the 80s, but does that support this new effort? Or, does it connect supermarkets with illness? In stores that sell lots of “good stuff,” aren’t there more sales of “bad… Read more »
Art Turock
Guest
Art Turock
15 years 8 months ago

There is a perfect storm building for whole health which suggests the success of mini-clinics and stores committed to wellness products and services. In 2004, ACNielsen found that 63% of US families have at least one member with a chronic condition (allergies, diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, etc.). This figure will skyrocket in the next 5-10 years because of several trends: aging, obesity, and growing ethic diversity (incidence of diabetes and other chronic conditions are high). A basic shift in shopper motivation will occur. Instead of being merely a lifestyle choice as in a wellness lifestyle, the choice to purchase healthier products will become a medical treatment requirement. In turn, the wellness niche will transition to chronic illness as a mainstream market.

Robert Leppan
Guest
Robert Leppan
15 years 8 months ago

Offering in-store health & wellness via on site clinics is a viable strategy given the aging demographic profile of the American population as well as the large number of families in this country that lack health insurance coverage. Making supermarkets and drug stores places where consumers can come for health care advice and products will help to shift focus to wellness and prevention, rather than cure. It will be an even stronger draw in some high-Hispanic markets with a greater percentage of households without healthcare. It will provide an additional reason for shoppers patronage and convey the message that retailers care about their customers. I don’t see the clinics being self-supporting (and this may not be necessary to the concept) but they can help generate cross-department shopping and provide a strong platform for marketer/brand co-op promotion and outreach efforts.

Race Cowgill
Guest
Race Cowgill
15 years 8 months ago
It does not appear that access to health care is what turns people to adopt a wellness and prevention lifestyle — having thousands of easy points of access to the health care system will not, according to the data, change the American mindset. For many decades, the American culture and the health care system have collaborated in a self-reinforcing dynamic of spiraling fear of our bodies and our world and our health, and spiraling focus on the idea that western medical approaches are the only protection for our fragile bodies from this malevolent world. Our studies of hundreds of unusually healthy Americans uncovers an entirely different mindset in these people. Interestingly, they not only have many fewer medical problems, but they visit medical systems far less often for the problems they do have. This group of people adopt a different mindset early on (a mindset of a powerful body and a gentle universe), and they develop self-care strategies that move them further and further from the health care system as they get older. Knowing this,… Read more »
Theresa Miller
Guest
Theresa Miller
15 years 8 months ago

I think it is an ideal way to help sell more drugs/medications to consumers. It will be fun to watch which companies “sponsor” and spiff these clinics for greatest share of scripts.

Sherry Moore
Guest
Sherry Moore
15 years 7 months ago

The in-store clinic is one of the BEST things I’ve seen coming in a long time. The research I’ve done so far indicates they will take insurance and offer discounts to those without insurance. I am hoping we see one of these soon in Abilene, Texas.

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