The retail clinics sector has been growing explosively for the last couple of years, despite organized resistance from doctors who opposed their existence. Still, no market can expand forever--a reality backed up by a new study suggesting that their boom may be slowing.
The data is not clear yet, but the expansion could hardly do anything but slow from it's incredible growth rate of a few years ago. In 2006, there were about 60 retail clinics in 18 states; by the end of 2007, there were over 900 in 30 different states.
Interestingly, the retail clinic sector seems to be cooling despite the fact that the market is far from saturated. No data is available about how many there are today, but a study of American families showed that the use of such clinics accounts for a very small percentage of their healthcare visits. In 7,700 telephone interviews, only 2.3 percent of families reported ever visiting a retail clinic, and only 1.2 percent had done so in the last 12 months.
Time will tell whether retail clinics will be able to find stability, or if their numbers will end up crashing as quickly as they grew. If nothing else, we seem to be at an inflection point in the industry, one that could dictate what business model the next generation of clinics adopts.
To learn more about the study:
- read this Modern Healthcare piece