Daugherty: What providers should know about retail clinic growth

The Daily Briefing's Dan Diamond discussed the outlook for retail clinics with Alicia Daugherty, practice manager of the Advisory Board's Marketing and Planning Leadership Council. 

Q: Today's Daily Briefing has a summary of new projections on the growth of retail clinics. How do those estimates match up to your own forecast of clinic growth?

Alicia Daugherty: One-hundred percent growth across the next 2.5 years is at the higher end of estimates we’ve seen. 

However, both patients and physicians are becoming more comfortable with retail clinics, where quality outcomes and patient satisfaction are comparable with those of traditional primary care practices.

Beyond growth in the number of clinics, what's even more interesting to us is the growth in services across the past two years. For example, in April, Take Care announced that they’ll not only monitor chronic conditions (hypertension, diabetes, asthma) but also diagnose and treat them.

Q: Once, retail clinics were viewed as a threat to hospitals and health systems. Is it fair to say that's beginning to change--that clinics can be seen as partners?

Daugherty: We've certainly noticed that trend. For example, major chains are partnering with local practices to share visit records and connect patients with a usual PCP for ongoing care. 

And increasingly, these clinics are serving as an extension of the practice, with some even sharing staff.

Q: But if providers are seeking to reach patients who might visit a retail clinic, they have a few options here. 

Daugherty: Definitely—if health systems are working to expand access to convenient appointments, retail clinic partnerships aren’t the only option. 

One tactic that we've observed: many systems now offer walk-in and after-hours appointments at centrally located physician practices. Others are bypassing the model entirely in favor of e-visits that patients can access 24 hours a day from their living room.

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