Retail Clinics Thrive in Drug Store Settings


By Kate H. Gamble, Senior Editor

Pharmacies are a top destination for patients seeking convenient access to quick, affordable health care, according to the market research firm Kalorama. In its annual roundup of the industry, “Retail Clinics 2011: Market Assessment, Supplier Sales, Key Players and Trends,” the firm reported that sales at retail health clinics have risen 81% per year since 2005, totaling $733.4 million in 2011.

The majority of those sales occurred in drug store locations, such as Walgreens or CVS, analysts said. Of the nation’s 1344 open retail clinics, 81% were in chain pharmacies, as opposed to mass merchandisers or supermarkets, according to the analysis. The trend is consistent with previous years dating back to 2007, when Kalorama released its first report on retail clinics.

“It’s logical in terms of one-stop shopping, because the drug store visitor is already a consumer with health care on his or her mind,” said Bruce Carlson, publisher of Kalorama Information. The numbers show that the popularity of retail health clinics has persisted despite significant economic and regulatory hurdles, the report noted.

For example, pushback from physicians has led to stricter regulations in some states, and the recession has made it difficult for new businesses to launch. Those obstacles may explain the success of larger operations in dominating the market. Kalorama found that Walgreen’s Take Care Health and CVS’s Minute Clinic account for 62% of all retail clinic sales.

“The concept is still novel, it still arouses some fears, but our research finds that the clinics are popular, particularly in drugstore settings,” Carlson said.

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