The Economist: Expect major growth, competition for retail clinics, urgent care and telehealth

NEW YORK — Retail-based health clinics, urgent care clinics, telehealth and traditional physicians may be increasingly competing to serve the healthcare needs of Americans but the real winner is the patient, suggests a recent article in The Economist.

The “Medicine at the mall” article reports on the fact that Walgreens announced today that it has expanded its scope of services in its Take Care Clinics to manage chronic conditions — a move that is part of a bigger trend in Obamacare.

“Retail clinics got a bumpy start, thanks to slim margins and erratic seasonal revenue — fewer coughs mean less money. But volume has grown. According to RAND, a think-tank, the number of visits to retail clinics grew fourfold between 2007 and 2009. This looks set to rise again, as clinics expand in number and in scope,” the article states.

The article also discusses the fact that CVS Caremark and its MinuteClinic business are increasingly affiliating with broader healthcare systems and Advocare Walgreens Well Network, Diagnostic Clinic Walgreens Well Network and Scott & White Walgreens Well Network have been selected as three of 106 new Accountable Care Organizations in Medicare.

“Retail health clinics must compete not just with these doctors, but with urgent-care centers and, eventually, telemedicine and mobile health gadgets. No one knows which models will prove most popular. But as they compete, patients are likely to win,” The Economist article states.

To read the entire article, click here.