WHILE RETAIL HEALTH clinics seemed to flow freely into stores in 2006 — culminating with CVS/pharmacy's purchase of clinic provider MinuteClinic — 2007 proved that the trend is continuing, but at a steady trickle in supermarkets.
At the Healthcare Retail '07 Conference held in April in Orlando, Fla., while Alicia Ledlie, senior director of Health Business Development for Wal-Mart Stores, Bentonville, Ark., told attendees the retailer was ready to move beyond the test phase with in-store medical clinics, she also pointed out that clinics are not profit centers.
“We haven't been able to discern a noticeable sales impact,” Ledlie said.
At the same conference, Michael Howe, chief executive officer of Minute Clinic, told attendees that his company's CVS/pharmacy-owned clinics were not moneymakers yet either. “CVS has looked at the retail impact and, honestly, it is quite small,” he said.
Still, at the end of May, Walgreen Co., Deerfield, Ill., completed acquisition of clinic provider Take Care Health System, Conshohocken, Pa., and will fund its expansion.
For supermarket retailers unwilling or unable to buy clinic operators, the decision was set: Move forward, slowly. “It may not move as fast as everyone thought it would but the concept is here to stay,” said Ron Peters, vice president of pharmacy at Minyard Food Stores, Coppell, Texas.
Representatives from supermarkets such as Giant Eagle, Pittsburgh, and Bi-Lo, Greenville, S.C., told SN their companies intended to start to install clinics, over time.
As the year progressed, Price Chopper Supermarkets, Schenectady, N.Y., reported plans to open at least seven clinics; Meijer housed physician-staffed Medical Marts in three suburban Chicago stores; ShopRite, Edison, N.J., expects to open 12 clinics by March 2008; and Rosauers Supermarkets, Spokane, Wash., opened at least one clinic.