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American Medical News has a piece in which it discusses what it calls the leveling off of growth in the retail health clinic business, noting that “from October 2006 to September 2008, the number of retail clinics -- quick-care centers in pharmacies, grocery stores or big-box stores -- grew from 200 to more than 1,000. CVS Corp., which bought retail clinic pioneer MinuteClinic, and Walgreen Corp., which bought Take Care Health Systems, were expected to expand even more. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said it would open hundreds nationwide.

“As of February, there were 1,197 retail clinics, an all-time high. But that was only eight more than in March 2009. CVS and Walgreen not only did not expand, they closed clinics. Wal-Mart became more circumspect on where and when to open clinics. Some hospitals and retail clinic chains dumped plans to open clinics in favor of stand-alone urgent care centers.”

One of the problems with the model, the article says, is that clinics need to see an average of two patients per hour, which is a high number at certain times of year when people are not lining up for flu shots. In addition, there may be limits on the places such clinics can work - they may work in metropolitan areas, but need a large population base to survive.
KC's View:
Sure, there may be limits. But that doesn’t mean retail clinics are a bad idea. Far from it.