Your special report on healthcare providers opening retail clinics was a timely message for healthcare executives across the country who are experiencing the onslaught of retail and convenient-care clinics by national and regional retailers and pharmacy chains (Look whos buying retail, Nov. 19, p. 26). The experience of the early clinic providers has shown that people are drawn to consumer-friendly environments where they can be seen quickly for minor medical ailments. Patients do not want to wait long or rearrange their schedules to see healthcare providers for simple treatments. Retail and convenient-care clinics supplement existing medical practices by providing convenient hours that are welcome to walk-ins and have quick service and easy-to-understand chargesall consumer-friendly qualities that will continue to attract new patients. The most amazing quality of these clinics is that they require a minimal capital investment compared with facility and equipment investments traditionally made by hospitals, health systems and physicians; they are not facility- or equipment-intensive. For traditional healthcare organizations and providers, these clinics are a low-cost, low-risk alternative for testing market expansion and new locations. Mayo Clinics strategy to operate a convenience clinic in a stand-alone storefront in a strip mall is a new approach that is sure to be effective. With a stand-alone retail location convenient to the public, the sponsoring healthcare organization can maintain maximum control of their branding, hours of operation, scope of services, quality oversight and referralswithout choosing sides by aligning with a single retailer.
James KillianExecutive director, business development Medcor McHenry, Ill.