The Second Coming of the Retail Health Clinic

by Braden Kelley

There used to be a day when you could go to your local barber and get all sorts of wonderful health treatments. That fortunately or unfortunately faded with the old west.

That day is returning however, or at least in a slightly different fashion. All across the nation companies like MinuteClinic are opening locations in drug stores like CVS. What is driving this resurgence?

Well, first and foremost is the escalating cost of health insurance and ranks of the uninsured. According to the US Census the % of individuals with employer-sponsored health insurance has dropped from 63.9% to 59.7% from 1999 to 2006. Amongst Blacks (49.3%) and Hispanics (40.0%) the current situation (2006) is even worse. This is while the average employee contribution for employer-sponsored health insurance has increased from $342 to $565 for an individual and from $1,275 to $1,987 from 1996 to 2002 according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Putting that together with some information in an article I saw in Fast Company, it would not be surprising if the growing ranks of the uninsured would rather pay $43 to someone like RediClinic or MinuteClinic instead of an $87 average for a doctor’s visit.

The secondary rationale for the growth in these retail health clinics is the unending quest for revenue and profits of corporate beasts like CVS who are looking to their new tenants to drive sales of prescription and non-prescription remedies alike. It’s a brilliant complementary innovation when you think about it, especially when you factor in that whether you go to a clinic like this or to a doctor’s office, most of your time is spent with a nurse practioner anyways.

So what do you think? Is this a good development for consumers or a bad one? Will insurance companies force people to go to these clinics once they catch on instead of going to a doctor in order to save costs?


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Braden KelleyBraden Kelley is a Social Business Architect and the author of Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire from John Wiley & Sons. Braden is also a popular innovation speaker and trainer, and advises companies on embedding innovation across the organization and how to attract and engage customers, partners, and employees.

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