Hospitals Reaching Out to Patients Through Walk-in Clinics--June 2009

As the old saying goes, "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em"--and that is just what hospitals are doing. Convenient care walk-in clinics have been steadily popping up in pharmacies and grocery stores around the country, thriving in a time of economic duress due to the quick, inexpensive care they offer. Not to be eschewed in favor of the in-store medical facilities, hospitals are getting in on the action.

Hospitals are affiliated with more than 25 Walmart clinics, with the coming months to bring more hospital-connected clinics in the stores. The Cleveland Clinic has joined forces with a number of CVS MinuteClinics in northeastern Ohio. The Mayo Clinic is also dabbling in the retail clinic business, with one Express Care clinic at a supermarket and a second location at a shopping mall, both in Rochester, Minnesota.

The retail clinics offer basic medical care and are normally staffed by nurse practitioners or physician assistants. Part of their popularity comes from providing access to inexpensive, expedient care compared with physicians' offices or hospital emergency rooms.

Hospitals joining in on the trend are using the affiliations to forge relationships with potential patients.

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