Will urgent care centers put a hurt on retail health clinics?

Discussion
Photo: CityMD
Jun 06, 2019
Tom Ryan

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?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"If people were more aware of – and comfortable with – the services available in retail clinics, they would spend more time and money there."
"Convenience of the retail centers is a draw, however, the location in the retailer and the center’s patient logistics seem to repel repeat patient visits from what I’ve seen."
"There are three fundamental basics: convenience, coverage and competence of the staff. Beyond those, it’s all about the customer experience and earning their trust..."

Join the Discussion!

12 Comments on "Will urgent care centers put a hurt on retail health clinics?"


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Art Suriano
BrainTrust
Even though healthcare services at retail stores are growing, they have a long way to go before they can compete with urgent care centers. There is a perception that quality is not the same. For the moment I would agree with that for most of the retail clinics but, as the quality improves, the challenge will be to convince the general public. There are still millions of Americans without health insurance despite all the noise from Washington about how we need healthcare for all. Even Obamacare didn’t come close to what it was supposed to do so cost is a significant concern for those without insurance. If the retail clinics can offer less expensive services but still provide quality they will win in the end, but for now, they’re still ironing out the kinks. Perhaps it might be smart for retailers to add what looks like an urgent care center next to their store when, in reality, it can be a retail clinic. As costs continue to rise, the retail clinic in the future will… Read more »
Mohamed Amer
BrainTrust

With the different set of preferences between younger and older generations, retail clinics need to identify their target population segment and design accordingly. The qualities up for grabs cluster around convenience, ease of access, speed, and cost.

Targeting the younger generations can become a differentiated path forward for retail clinics. Patients are looking for treatment on their own terms and younger patients are less concerned with long term provider-patient relationships. By making it easy and fast, keeping costs down, and executing professionally, retail clinics can overtake urgent care facilities for the younger generations.

Chris Brown
Guest

Mohamed, I couldn’t agree more! This is why we have built a health care delivery model for youth sports families (24-55) and target UCs and Specialty Clinics to partner. This is a very niche target market that in aggregation brings a large population with healthcare dollars to spend. Behavior change isn’t easy, but using youth sports as a mechanism will deliver results. For example, we have seen a reduction in ER visits when not necessary, reducing costs for everyone.

Chris Petersen, PhD.
BrainTrust

There are three fundamental basics: convenience, coverage and competence of the staff. Beyond those, it’s all about the customer experience and earning their trust through personalized care. The key to long term success is building customer relationships.

Bob Amster
BrainTrust

I have seen where pharmacies in other countries take turns staying open all night throughout the week and the rotation is posted outside of all participating pharmacies. Healthcare can and probably will evolve to a point where doctors’ offices can be the emergency care centers, take turns and consolidate into fewer, more efficient centers of care.

Dave Bruno
BrainTrust

This is a marketing problem more than a service problem. I simply think retail clinics need to do a better job marketing the breadth of their services, the short wait times, and the pedigree of their service providers. Maybe pepper in customer stories. I think if people were more aware of – and comfortable with – the services available in retail clinics, they would spend more time and money there.

Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust

They could start by having doctors and nurses on staff, move on to adding expensive medical testing technologies, keep their facilities staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, accept a broader range of insurance coverage, have staff qualified to tell you when you should leave and get to an emergency room, etc., etc. Shall I go on? Being in position to give a flu shot is not the same thing as being able to treat someone who may be having a heart attack. I’d say retail clinics would be well advised to err on the side of competency and know their limits.

Doug Garnett
BrainTrust

In our area, urgent care clinics are well developed and there are far more than there are retail clinics. And that seems to be an inherent limitation when retailers try to add clinics — the only advantage of their location is if the customer is going there anyway. Doesn’t mean they won’t work out well for the retailer. But I expect the robust urgent care networks will continue to supply most of the services.

Andrew Casey
Guest

From my experience, which healthcare providers people use has more to do with who is in their insurance network than anything else. Most plans pay significantly less (or not at all) for out of network care, which effectively eliminates any reality of choice for many people.

Paco Underhill
BrainTrust

No. The drug store based centers are staffed with nurses, who will direct a customer to a hospital or an urgent care center if appropriate. Nurse tend to treat with knowledge or information. Access to nurses is good for America. Inexpensive and effective.

Ralph Jacobson
BrainTrust

Convenience of the retail centers is a draw, however, the location in the retailer and the center’s patient logistics seem to repel repeat patient visits from what I’ve seen. This is a very private service being provided, and walking up in front of a busy front-end department can be intimidating, when you think about a typical doctor’s office or even an urgent care facility. People don’t like being “on stage” during these visits in retailers.

Richard Layman
Guest
5 months 8 days ago

Retail clinics have limited capacity to act given how they are staffed. They don’t have MDs. Urgent care centers have MDs on staff.

It’s like car buying. People buy a vehicle to accomplish all types of trips they may take, even if they take some kinds of trips hyper rarely. So they end up buying an SUV instead of a sedan. Or a bigger vehicle instead of a smaller car. E.g., in cities having a small car makes sense, but since people tend to own fewer vehicles in the city, they buy one “bulked up” vehicle. Hence there are a lot of SUVs, way more than you would think given the typical trip.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"If people were more aware of – and comfortable with – the services available in retail clinics, they would spend more time and money there."
"Convenience of the retail centers is a draw, however, the location in the retailer and the center’s patient logistics seem to repel repeat patient visits from what I’ve seen."
"There are three fundamental basics: convenience, coverage and competence of the staff. Beyond those, it’s all about the customer experience and earning their trust..."

Take Our Instant Poll

How confident are you that retailers will be able to improve their in-store health clinics to become a better alternative to urgent care facilities?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...