Retail clinics already on the rocks?

In a recent post on industry blog Hospital Impact, Tony Chen argues, rather convincingly, that the buzz about the prospects for retail clinics may be overblown. While Chen--and I, for that matter--still believe that retail clinics have a healthy future, he notes that these clinics are running into some obstacles cheerleaders hadn't pointed out in the first round of enthusiasm.

For example, he notes that retail clinic operator Take Care is pulling out of Portland, OR, despite having a strong partner in national retailer RiteAid. He believes that this is because Portlanders probably have good access to doctors already. In Chen's view, the current frenzy of retail clinic deal-making is a "land grab," with clinic players prospectively jockeying for precious retail space rather than evaluating each location for its healthcare market potential. And given how many are jumping into the market, clinics may have a tough time differentiating themselves from one another, he suggests. I'd argue that retail clinics have it even worse than Chen says: They're going to have an even tougher time establishing a consumer identity under the wings of billion-dollar brands like RiteAid and CVS.

For more of Chen's analysis:
- read this blog entry at Hospital Impact