(c) 2016 Jon L Gelman, All Rights Reserved.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Why walk-in health care is a fast-growing profit center for retail chains

Sarah Torresen, 16, left, accompanied by her mother, Dianne, middle, is seen by Katherine Skiff, at the Tenleytown CVS MinuteClinic in Washington. The MinuteClinic is a walk-in medical clinic within CVS pharmacies where customers can see nurse practitioners and physician assistants for minor ailments.

It was a cold Monday in late March, and at 8:30 a.m. 23-year-old Lindsey Menard was second in line to be seen at the MinuteClinic in a CVS Pharmacy in D.C.’s Tenleytown. ¶ “It was the closest place that was open early,” she said. Her doctor’s office was downtown, and traveling downtown “just seemed like too much of a hassle when I’m dying,” said Menard, 23, who lives nearby with her parents and teaches with the Metro D.C. Reading Corps. ¶ CVS is fast expanding its MinuteClinics, exemplifying a trend of retailers opening health-care services to supplement traditional doctors’ offices. CVS, the largest retail clinic operator in the Washington area, has 800 clinics nationwide, and it expects to add 150 more this year and to have 1,500 clinics by 2017, or almost as many as the more than 1,600 retail clinics across the country now, according to the Convenient Care Association. ¶ Retail walk-in clinics are relatively new on the health-care landscape, dating to 2000. After several years of very slow growth coinciding with the recession and its aftermath, they are taking off again. Accenture, a global...

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