The speed of growth of the US convenient care clinic sector has astounded the most optimistic experts. Convenient care clinic operators, consulted by Diagonal Reports, are very confident about its future and forecast that the number of clinics could double each year. It is expected there could be up to to 6,000 convenient care clinics throughout the USA by 2012 while a decade ago this sector did not even exist.
Clinics can draw on a huge potential pool of users. Convenient care clinics attract almost the entire population irrespective of their age, gender, income or insurance status. They are used by the insured, uninsured, under-insured and paid by self-pay consumers and third party payees. There is also strong confidence in its profitability. Experts insist that the “longer- established clinics” are profitable, and that the startups ––in business one to two years–– will be profitable within 12 months as soon as they recoup their set up costs.
The concept of the convenient care clinic is new to the US and the many terms in circulation reflect the fact that the model is still being developed. Terms used to describe clinics include:
• Store-based health clinics
• Retail health clinics
• Retail-based clinics (RBCs)
• Walk-in health clinics in retail stores
• Urgent care (not true emergency rooms)
“Get well” and “stay well” services
These clinics repackage medical services previously available in traditional physicians’ office. The core of the original clinic concept was a limited range of “get well” medical services, such as allergy or flu relief. These “get well” services remain the top services in terms of revenue generated, consumer demand and profitability. As the clinics increased in numbers, the original limited menu has now diversified as “stay well” services - that is, preventative medical care for well people, such as vaccinations and flu shots - have been added.
“For the well”
Further services are being added. Health or medical services management (physical screenings, tests for for obesity, diabetes) required by insurers, employers and schools are now being made available in convenient care clinics.
Nurse practitioners or physician assistants originally operated these clinics in shopping or commercial centers but new operators – including licensed physicians, who want to reduce red-tape, insurers, health management organisations (HMOs) and hospitals - are now setting up clinics in hospital or ambulatory care settings. Further integration with the healthcare system is inevitable.
The offer of simple, relatively inexpensive products and services that are not state of the art but rather "good enough" in the eyes of users is transforming the delivery of primary healthcare in the US. Convenient care clinics offer people what they most require – convenience. Users cut out the delay in getting a doctor's appointment and/or avoid the lengthy wait in the hospital emergency room. A clinic expert summarised the benefits, “The convenience factor cannot be underestimated. You can be seen, and be taken care of without making an extra stop.”
This cost effective, convenient, and local healthcare is the counterpart of developments that have been taking place since the 1980’s in a range of consumer services industries. The essentials of the model are “no frills” made possible by low costs, and overheads. This model, first made famous in air travel, but also popular in the automotive aftermarket (eg, “pit stop”) and professional beauty ( eg, “shampoo only” salons) market worldwide.
This new report THE CONVENIENT CARE CLINICS MARKET USA 2007 examines the future of the fast developing convenient care clinic sector, including clinic models, profitability and obstacles to growth. Diagonal Reports tracks the consumer services sector worldwide.
Published: October 2007 - Pages: 93
Keywords: health care, retail, elective, walk-in, cash-only, stay-well, get- well, assessments, tests