Hospital market share low for retail clinics

Hospitals are definitely getting into the retail clinic business. For example, this week not-for-profit MemorialCare Health System, based in Fountain Valley, Calif., announced plans to open three retail health clinics this July at ALBERTSONS/Sav-On Pharmacy stores in Huntington Beach, Irvine and Mission Viejo. And Wisconsin-based Bellin Healthcare is actually selling turnkey packages to help other healthcare systems set up their own retail clinics. In fact, of the 42 retail clinic operators identified in a new RAND Corp. study, more than half were hospitals or physician groups.

However, those traditional healthcare providers accounted for a mere 11 percent of the 982 retail clinics nationwide as of August 2008. "Three organizations--CVS, Walgreens and Target--operated 73 percent of the clinics," report the RAND researchers. As of 2008, retail clinics were clustered primarily in metropolitan areas with lower poverty rates and higher median incomes in the South (43 percent) and the Midwest (31 percent). "Nearly half (44 percent) of all clinics were located in five states (Florida, California, Texas, Minnesota, and Illinois)," say the researchers. "An estimated 35.8 percent of the U.S. urban population lived within a 10-minute driving distance of a retail clinic."

But there are definite opportunities in medically underserved areas. "Of 982 clinics located in 32 states, only 12.5 percent were located in medically underserved areas. For comparison, 21 percent of the U.S. population lives in a medically underserved area. Even after adjusting for the location of pharmacies and supermarket chains, clinics were less likely to be located in medically underserved neighborhoods than in other areas," the researchers point out.

To learn more:
- read the MemorialCare press release
- read the RAND research brief