Kaiser Permanente is moving into the retail clinic business, teaming up with big-box retailer Target Corp. to open four store-based locations in California that will use telemedicine to go beyond traditional in-store clinic services.
Three Kaiser clinics opened this month in San Diego, Vista and Fontana, Calif., and a fourth will open in West Fullerton in December, serving Kaiser health plan members and nonmembers. With the addition of the four clinics, Minneapolis-based Target will have 84 clinics in eight states, but the Kaiser-staffed clinics will have expanded capabilities compared to other locations.
Most of the Kaiser Target clinics will be staffed with a nurse practitioner and a vocational nurse, both from Kaiser's workforce. Patients also will be able to interact with the Kaiser physicians via telemedicine, a model that pharmacies such as Rite Aid and CVS have also explored. The Target-Kaiser arrangement will have Kaiser urgent-care clinic doctors respond to telemedicine requests.
Chris Stenzel, a Kaiser senior vice president, said the company hopes the extra perk of having an on-call physician will attract potential patients. “The fact that it's available will mean more people will feel comfortable in coming in and saying, 'Well, I'm just not sure what this is,' ” Stenzel said.
Though individuals use retail clinics for services such as vaccines and strep throat tests, Kaiser and Target are betting patients will use their clinics for more than just emergent needs. With services uncommon to retail settings such as pediatric care, well-woman care, family planning and chronic-illness management, the clinics should feel more like a primary-care setting, Stenzel said.