Retail health clinics to resurge in 2012

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Retail health clinics are poised for an uptick in 2012, according to a new report from research and consulting firm Merchant Medicine. After several years of rapid growth and then slow growth in 2009 and 2010, the number of retail clinics rose 11.2 percent to 1,355 in 2011, The New York Times' Prescriptions blog reports. In comparison, retail clinics rose only 3 percent in 2010 and had flat growth in 2009, according to the article.

Called a "second spring," according to the report, the movement in retail clinics continues to offer patients a convenient way to see providers outside the parameters of a physician's office or even hospital. Major health systems also have taken notice.

Cleveland Clinic and Henry Ford Health System partnered with CVS Caremark's MinuteClinic, which plans on adding 500 more clinics during the next five years, the NYT notes.

And Mayo Clinic last year opened up its own retail clinic in the Mall of America, called "Create Your Mayo Clinic Health Experience."

"Mayo Clinic believes healthcare in the future won't be limited to doctors' offices and hospitals," Dr. David Hayes, medical director of the Create Your Mayo Clinic Health Experience at Mall of America, previously said in an interview with FierceHealthcare. "Medicine needs to adapt to peoples' changing needs, including seeing people where they are and when it is convenient for them."

Coupled with health reform that requires expanded health coverage and care coordination, the retail clinic model may prove to be a solution to growing needs of patients (and providers).

"Once accountable care organizations start to be a major deal in 2014, the health care industry is no longer going to be counting patient visits but looking to get people the right care," said Thomas Charland, chief executive of Merchant Medicine. "It's going to be about cost, quality, outcomes, and they are going to be measuring everything."

More than 30 million Americans are scheduled to receive expanded health coverage in 2014 under health reform.

For more information:
- read the NYT blog post
- here's the report (sub. req.)
- check out the FierceHealthcare interview

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