SSM Healthcare ends retail clinic relationship

Is this a sign that the retail clinic model has flaws, or just one company's struggles to establish its footprint? Retail clinic operator Take Care Health Systems recently pulled out of Portland, OR, breaking away from its relationship there with partner RiteAid. This week SSM Healthcare, a St. Louis-area health system, has announced that it will be severing its partnership with Take Care. SSM, which operates 20 acute care hospitals, had agreed to provide collaborating physician review services for Take Care clinics based in Walgreens retail pharmacies. Under the agreement, its physicians review and analyze charts of patients seen at Walgreens locations. But now SSM says it will end the relationship effective February 2007. SSM execs wouldn't give a specific reason for ending the partnership, other than that they were "listening to and respecting the concerns of our doctors," according to a hospital spokesman.

Take Care, meanwhile, is pursuing a new medical partnership for its Walgreens locations. With any luck those physician concerns won't hold them back in future deals. I'm betting, though, that they're process-oriented conflicts--touching on the differences between retail and traditional medicine--that won't go away easily. What would you concerns be if you were approached by Take Care or another retail clinic? Let me know.

To learn more about the Walgreens deal:
- read this article in the St. Louis Business Journal