Lessons Learned from Failed Retail Clinics

Friday, February 1st, 2008
This post was written by Melanie Matthews

Recently, CheckUps, retail clinics operating in Wal-marts, closed 23 of its 81 locations, citing debt and the inability to pay its medical staff and vendors. However, Wal-mart executives are still planning to lease space to several hundred clinics over the next two years and to offer space to up to 2,000 clinics in the next six years.

While this news isn’t slowing down the superstore, how will other organizations react to it? Will the results for this organization have an effect on retail clinic strategies of other organizations? Is this a warning for other retail clinics?

During a recent HealthSounds podcast, HIN spoke with Dr. Thomas Atkins, medical director of Sutter Express Care, drugstore-based medical clinics that are part of Sutter Health’s network of hospitals and doctors serving northern California, about establishing locations for retail clinics, sharing information with PCPs and the impact retail clinics can have on reducing non-emergent ED usage as well as healthcare costs.

Dr. Atkins says there are several lessons to learn from Wal-mart’s situation.

“Different clinics will react differently to that news,” says Dr. Atkins. He remarked that commercial operators of retail clinics will look closely at the implications this announcement has for the way that they conduct their business.

Dr. Atkins also noted that organizations like Wal-mart that house these retail clinics will now think twice about their investments with these clinics, specifically regarding the size and space used for the clinics and the reliability of those they contract with.

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