Member asks: How can we set up a retail clinic partnership?

Large retailers often limit health system co-branding and marketing

"I’ve watched hospitals and health systems across the country partner with retail clinics, but we haven’t done so ourselves. What are the different options for developing a retail clinic and how do providers stamp their brand on these clinics?"

We've analyzed many of the retail clinic-health system partnerships and to what degree the retailers allow providers to market their brand.

Large retailers with clinic chains typically limit how much co-branding and marketing they allow their health system partners. Smaller retailers, such as local grocery chains, tend to be more flexible in terms of branding and marketing, but they also lack the operational experience, capital resources, and scale that the large retail clinic chains bring to the table. The health system partner may have to contribute more expertise and effort to get the clinic up and running efficiently.

    Full operations model: Under this model, used by Wal-Mart, health systems lease space for a clinic within the retail store. The clinics are typically branded as "The Clinic at Wal-Mart operated by XXX Health System." However, the retail giant is somewhat prescriptive in terms of where the health system name can and cannot appear. You probably wouldn’t see a health system's signage on the exterior of a Wal-Mart, for instance.

    Physician oversight model: Under this model, used by MinuteClinic, the health system partners provide physicians who oversee MinuteClinic-employed nurse practitioners, a model that asks for a much smaller investment from the health system. As such, the affiliation is not marketed extensively—the health system typically features its name on a plaque within the clinic and the affiliation is highlighted on any provider referral lists that are given to patients.

    Enhanced access practice model: Rather than establishing retail clinic partnerships, some health systems are choosing to offer retail-like access within their existing physician practices. Access expansion strategies include offering evening and weekend appointments, walk-in availability, e-visits, and "fast-track" clinics for a specific set of low-acuity conditions. Practices may dedicate providers to these "enhanced access" options or may incorporate them into the regular care team’s workflow.

Learn more by reading the Marketing and Planning Leadership Council’s recent Planning Guide for Primary Care Support Networks.

For additional retail clinic insights, our study Maximizing Primary Care Access offers several valuable tools and tactics; for example, see our strategy on how to off-load care to integrated convenient care clinics. This lesson provides an overview of the potential risks and benefits associated with partnering, building, or owning a retail clinic.


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