How much will retail clinics change care delivery?

By Jeff Rowe
08:18 AM

Think disruptive retailers, and you’re likely to pick names like Amazon and the increasingly ubiquitous Uber. But if you don’t include the likes of CVS, RiteAid and Target, then add in the word “healthcare,” you may not be seeing the really big picture.

As an article on RetailDive recently put it, “a quiet revolution is building as retailers like drugstores, general merchandise stores, and grocery stores are taking advantage of a new financial picture in healthcare.” 

That “new financial picture” is in many ways the consequence of the Affordable Care Act, but regardless of the specific motivation the fact is, the article explains, big retailers are moving into healthcare in an increasingly big way. 

The recently re-named CVS Health is one of the more prominent movers.  It has eliminated all sale of tobacco products, recently purchased a pharmaceutical sales company and is planning on adding hundreds of walk-in clinics in the next few years. 

Target, meanwhile, has teamed up with Kaiser Permanente in California “to offer urgent care from nurse practitioners and vocational nurses in store and consultation with physicians remotely from those locations.” 

Other companies making moves include Rite Aid, Walmart, Walgreens and even Whole Foods.

Not surprisingly, the article points out, “some healthcare providers and physicians groups are wary of the trend of health services being available at retailers. Last year the American Academy of Pediatrics warned that kids should only be treated at places like drugstores if their pediatricians are informed of the visits and the outcomes.”

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