The growing role of retail clinics in health care and prescription drug sales

“It seemed like an odd pairing: shampoo and throat swabs,” says Definitive Healthcare’s new report on retail health growth.

But retail clinics are no longer, as the paper explains, “the experiments of a few grocery stores … they are becoming a major force in the US health care system,” the thesis asserts. Healthcare retailers. a catalyst for supplier evolution.

While emergency department use has dropped 1% in the past five years, retail clinic use has increased 70%, Definitive Healthcare estimated.

Most retail clinics are owned by the large retail chains depicted in the first circle chart, dominated by CVS Health’s MinuteClinic (with two-thirds of the market share), Kroger’s The Little Clinic brand at *12%, and Walgreens. – owned by Village Medical (accounts for 8% of the retail clinic’s share).

“Why are major retailers jumping into healthcare?” the report asks and answers. as they fill consumer demand for more cost-effective care and transparent and fixed pricing. As patients continue to transform into health care consumers, facing rising deductibles and coinsurance share costs, people, along with their employers and government insurance sponsors, are the payers of health care.

The second chart plots the average charge per claim for general retail diagnostic clinics, connecting the dots between point-of-care and lower costs at retail clinics compared to hospital outpatient departments, physician offices, and urgent care centers, which are more expensive than retail clinics. . For the top 10 diagnoses served at retail clinics, the average cost per claim was a total of $38 less than urgent care claims, $471 less than physician office claims and $746 less than hospital claims.

For context, check out the third chart I’m sharing here from the latest May 2022 survey of US consumers’ views on health care costs for Consumers for Quality Care. This coalition of patient advocacy organizations includes AIDS United, Allergy & Asthma Network, American Kidney Foundation, Autism Speaks, Black Women’s Health Imperative, Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, Global Liver Institute, National Consumers League and many other patients. guided coalitions.

Half of US adults have put off needed care because they can’t afford the out-of-pocket costs involved. One in five believed that an illness or medical emergency in their family would cause them to go bankrupt. Those proportions are even higher for people in financially unstable households.

Hot spots of Health Populi. “For drugstores like CVS and Walgreens,” the report notes, “investing in clinics is also a way to boost prescription drug sales.”

Here, we are talking about expanding services beyond antibiotic referral to other chronic disease management and population health programs.

My colleague Michael Pacey of found out that the PBM with the largest number of FDA-authorized prescription digital therapeutics (PDT) was Kroger Prescription Plans, which included 5 PDTs on its preferred drug list. Michael shared the chart shown here in his detailed LinkedIn post discussing this important finding. In his words: “America’s largest supermarket chain carries more PDTs Formulary than any other US entity.”

Retail health care will continue to evolve to bring products and services closer to people who will consciously choose more convenient times, hassle-free (or hassle-free) appointments, convenient locations, and certainly lower costs.

Definitive Healthcare found nearly one in four consumers lacked a conventional source of health care, enabling the channel to address chronic care management based on technology that both tracks patient progress and equips the patient with a consumer-facing digital number. healthcare apps and tools to help them manage care remotely and on the go. This opportunity can expand access to modern care to the underserved by imagining and designing new business models to meet the challenge.

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