Jul 21, 2023 - Economy

Retail clinic hot spots, mapped

Retail clinics in select metro areas, 2023
Data: Definitive Healthcare; Map: Axios Visuals

The Midwest and Southeast are hot spots for retail health clinics, per new data from health care analytics firm Definitive Healthcare.

Why it matters: Retail clinics — which are located inside retail or convenience stores and offer basic health services like vaccinations and minor injury care — offer an easy-to-access alternative to emergency rooms, urgent care clinics and primary care providers.

The big picture: Such clinics are increasingly popular as major retail chains like CVS and Walmart embrace the idea of offering them at their locations, in part to draw customers who may also buy groceries, clothing or beauty supplies.

  • These clinics can help retailers boost their pharmacy sales, as customers using a store's clinic are likely to also shop there for any needed prescriptions related to their visit.
  • They're staffed by nurse practitioners or physician assistants, who are hired by the retailer or the retailer's clinic partner.

By the numbers: "Over the last five years, the use of retail clinics has grown 200% — considerably more than urgent care centers, which grew 70%," per Definitive Healthcare's recent report.

  • "Meanwhile, emergency room usage declined by 1% over the same time period, and claims filed by primary care offices declined 13%."

State of play: Nationally, CVS is the dominant retail clinic provider, with 63% of the locations, per Definitive Healthcare.

  • Kroger is second at 12%, and Village Medical (majority-owned by Walgreens) is third at 8%.
  • The Chicago area is home to the greatest number of retail clinics by metro area, at around 113.
  • They're not yet nearly as common in the West, though Target and Kaiser Permanente have been expanding in the region.

Yes, but: Retail clinics are, for now, almost exclusively an urban phenomenon, with just 2% of the locations in rural areas.

  • "For the same reasons healthcare providers often don't locate in these communities, such as workforce challenges due to low populations, retailers are likewise reluctant to open clinics in rural areas," reads the report.

What they're saying: Retail clinics have been getting more popular, in part because people were introduced to them during the COVID-19 pandemic (when many offered testing and vaccinations), says Todd Bellemare, SVP of strategic solutions at Definitive Healthcare and author of the recent report.

  • "Both the urgent care clinics and retail clinics are going to continue to grow just because people tried it and they liked it. And so why would they change back to the old ways where it was a little more difficult to sit in an ER for three hours or whatever?"
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