Retail clinics plan for high demand following health reform

CVS Caremark Corp. plans over the next five years to double the number of MinuteClinics it operates in anticipation of high demand spurred by Baby Boomers reaching Medicare age and, of course, health reform.

"There will be a gap in the number of providers available in an already constrained system," CVS Chief Financial Officer David M. Denton told Bloomberg News. "Our MinuteClinics are a very nice complement to that environment. We will easily double the number of clinics and maybe even more than that."

Despite the proliferation of retail clinics--with CVS operating 500 MinuteClinics in 25 states and Walgreens' Take Care clinics numbering 359--the businesses have struggled to stay busy outside of flu season. However, shares climbed 15 percent this year after losing 5 cents a share two years ago. The chains have also begun to broaden their focus on treating common ailments such as strep throat to add services for people with diabetes, high blood pressure and asthma. Additional services geared toward treating chronic illnesses are in the works, reports Bloomberg.

Although Rhode Island-based CVS Caremark claims to have no plans to partner with medical providers, but rather stick with "collaborative" non-financial ties, Walgreens' Take Care Clinic has recently said it's in "deep discussions" with possible hospital system partners, reports the Wall Street Journal. Joint ventures, franchises and other business models are all on the table, as long as the arrangement is a "winning situation" for both sides, Take Care Chief Executive Peter Miller told WSJ.

To learn more:
- read this Bloomberg News piece
- check out this Wall Street Journal Health Blog post
- read this Providence Business News article