Will urgent care centers put a hurt on retail health clinics?
Convenience and speed are two features that favor retail clinics, according to a study from WD Partners. Urgent care facilities, however, offer similar benefits and are so far seen by consumers as doing a better job.
The study, based on a survey of 2,600 consumers, explored three service options: primary care physicians (PCPs), urgent care and retail clinics. Of the three, only retail clinics had a negative NPS (net promoter score). Urgent care outperforms retail clinics on all NPS measures, from quality of care to availability, speed, convenience, staff, insurance coverage and price.
Despite the overall negative NPS, respondents said they would be willing to consider visiting a retail clinic for the following additional services:
- Specialty services like testing (blood, DNA, urine) and treating allergies.
- To a lesser extent, respondents would consider getting nutrition, dietary, weight management and massage services at a retail clinic.
The top three reasons to visit a retail clinic were found to be: availability of walk-in appointments, location convenience and insurance coverage.
For both urgent care and retail clinics, the bigger opportunity is to take some of the traffic still headed to the family doctor (PCPs) for non-acute healthcare. Of the respondents, only 12 percent used a retail clinic over the last six months versus 28 percent for urgent care and 80 percent for PCPs.
Retailers are expected to see greater opportunities as the healthcare industry looks for solutions to escalating costs and an increasing shortage of physicians.
Even though PCPs earn high points for quality of care, familiarity and trust, they rate poorly when it comes to convenience and speed. WD Partners said retail and urgent care facilities have to improve their perceived quality of care and put more effort into building relationships with consumers to complement their perceived strengths, which include both convenience and speed.
The study found younger consumers place a higher value on convenience and are concerned about wait times and high fees. Younger consumers were also found to be more dissatisfied over available healthcare options and more open to using an urgent care (preferred), retail clinics and other healthcare concepts.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What upgrades may retail clinics have to make to overtake urgent care facilities as the second most popular option to primary care physicians? What strengths should they leverage as retailers in the healthcare provider space?