Kroger Pulling Back on In-Store Clinics

Discussion
Apr 09, 2010
George Anderson

By George Anderson


The high hopes retailers had for in-store clinics may not
yet quite be dashed nor their plans to create
a profitable business from treating consumers’ minor ailments. However, Kroger
and its The Little Clinic business are following in the steps of others with
the closing of some facilities.


Kroger, which
bought the rest of The Little Clinic it did not already own in February, closed
clinics in 20 of its stores. The grocer said the move was part of its focuse
on "strengthening" the business model of the company.
Kroger said it would "revisit expansion plans for 2011 and beyond once
it completes the process of streamlining its operations."


"We see the Little Clinic as an essential part of our commitment to
health and wellness," Kroger spokeswoman Meghan Glynn told the Nashville
Business Journal
. "What’s intriguing for us is the convenience
and affordability that these clinics offer customers."


Discussion Questions:
Why are retailers having such an apparently difficult time making in-store
clinics work? What’s the fix?

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8 Comments on "Kroger Pulling Back on In-Store Clinics"


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John Boccuzzi, Jr.
Guest
John Boccuzzi, Jr.
11 years 28 days ago

In today’s global economy with very fierce competition there is no room in business to be “Good.” You either chose to be “Great” or don’t bother. Kroger was smart move to close these clinics until they truly understand how to make them “Great.”

David Livingston
Guest
11 years 28 days ago

These clinics have not worked for several reasons. First they require cash and the poor can go to the emergency room for free. Also these clinics really can’t do anything more than what a person could do for themselves. If the clinics do identify a problem they will not fix it there but will refer you to a doctor. These clinics will charge you cash to give you a flu shot when smart consumers can go to county heath departments and get one for free. My doctor started doing free flu shots just to keep patients from using these clinics.

Some of these clinics don’t take insurance and it seems most insurance companies have negotiated fees lower with doctors than what these clinics charge. Since it’s really cheaper to see a real doctor, why go to an in-store clinic?

Dr. Stephen Needel
Guest
11 years 28 days ago

In addition to David’s points, maybe the problem is that when I think Kroger, I don’t think healthcare, I think groceries. It may be a case of trying to be everything to everybody and the grocery store model may not support this type of expansion.

Mark Burr
Guest
11 years 28 days ago

Why aren’t they working? They aren’t free. In addition, sick folk and a food store never seemed a good mix. Food chain pharmacies provide drive up windows for that same reason just as Walgreen’s and others do. It’s not the right place and likely won’t become one.

Liz Crawford
Guest
11 years 28 days ago

I believe that in addition to charging money for not-much care is doing them in…but also trip missions.

It seems that the grocery stock-up trip with the kids would be the perfect moment to seize upon for a clinic visit. But trying to do too much in one trip can be rough too (especially with sick kids).

Also–there is a credibility issue. Kroger just doesn’t seem to have the medical credentials of a walk-in….

Doron Levy
Guest
Doron Levy
11 years 28 days ago

This may be the case in the US but our lack of doctors here in Ontario is prompting the expansion of in store clinics and things we call urgent care centers to ease the burden off emergency rooms. Rexall/Pharma Plus just opened an urgent care center attached to the pharmacy just down the street from us. Operated by the store, it always has a doctor on staff. Of course our health care situation is much different than the US. Are these in-store clinics really more expensive? I don’t get how that can be. Aren’t medical rates determined by some governing body or association?

Olga Yurovska
Guest
Olga Yurovska
11 years 28 days ago

My husband had an acute ear infection last weekend, and all local doctor offices were closed. Going to an emergency room for an antibiotic prescription didn’t make sense because co-pay is too high. For us, it was perfect: no waiting, no contact with the other sick people, convenient location, combined the trip with the grocery purchase, filled out the prescription at the same time at Kroger pharmacy. Hope Little Clinic stays in business!

M. Jericho Banks PhD
Guest
M. Jericho Banks PhD
11 years 28 days ago

There’s probably no fix. Supermarket retailers have no well-designed marketing plans for their clinics, and the uncertainty about the future viability of healthcare services caused by the weird new healthcare laws make closing poorly-performing clinics a shrewd move.

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