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Retail Clinics: A promising sign for a healthy future

Increased usage likely a result of more national awareness and greater frequency of insurance coverage

More consumers are visiting retail clinics and viewing them as acceptable alternatives to traditional healthcare delivery methods according to a syndicated study released last month by full-service custom and syndicated research and strategic consulting firm Market Strategies International.

The study was part of the second wave of Market Strategies' annual Retail Clinic Consumer Tracking Study and was designed to capture consumer reactions to the rapid emergence of retail clinics compared to 2007 results. As part of the study 720 retail clinic users and 1180 non-users were surveyed in 12 large American cities where retail clinics have a presence.

The 2008 Retail Clinic Consumer Tracking Study also revealed that more than half of all consumers who used a retail clinic were extremely satisfied with their care. In addition 86 percent rated their retail clinic visit as being of equal of better quality than a visit to their regular doctor said Market Strategies Vice President Jack Fyock, PhD., who heads up Market Strategies' innovative Emerging Trends in Healthcare practice.

"The dramatic increase in use and awareness suggests that retail clinics are solidifying their place in the minds of consumers and a viable option for healthcare services," said Fyock.

As with last year, most consumers go to retail clinics with "cold and flu" like symptoms and nearly half stated they had self diagnosed and sought care at the clinic. In 2008, the number of prescriptions, particularly for antibiotics, increased 33 percent.

Of those consumers who do receive scripts or require other medications during a retail clinic visit, 80% filled those prescriptions or OTCs in the same store or location where a clinic is located the study found.

"That gives credence to the idea that retail chains or pharmacies that house a clinic will benefit from added prescription or OTC sales," Fyock said.

The study also included an assessment of marketing messages and themes commonly used to promote retail clinics (including, convenience, affordability, and after-hours availability). "Not surprisingly, people are drawn to retail clinics primarily because of their "off-hour" availability and most clinics heavily promote this feature," said Fyock.

Clinics will need to think of messages to bring people in during the day in order to succeed and grow Fyock said. That's because Market Strategies' annual Retail Clinic Consumer Tracking Study revealed that pro-active healthcare consumers are more attracted to the idea that they can receive both treatment and a prescription during the same visit.

"Identifying and targeting these consumers could lead to more daytime visits, since consumers appear reluctant to make a trip to the doctor and then the pharmacy," Fyock said.

Awareness of retail clinics appears to be on the upswing as consumers who could name a retail clinic in their community but have not yet used one doubled from a year ago.. Consumers unaware of such clinics in their communities generally aren't uncomfortable with the idea, but haven't used the clinics because they are unfamiliar with the services offered or don't know where such clinics are located.

"Consumers appear able and willing to use retail clinics. The challenge clinics face for many non-users is simply capturing their attention," Fyock said.

Market Strategies' Emerging Trends in Healthcare practice is taking an industry lead in providing healthcare stakeholders with relevant data and pinpointing trends on how the healthcare industry at large is offering additional methods of delivery for all consumers, regardless of social and cultural class.

"Healthcare reform has emerged as one of the top domestic issues in the 2008 presidential race and the perception is that rapidly rising healthcare costs, increasing numbers of uninsured Americans, and more out-of-pocket spending on prescriptions demand action," Fyock said.

"Retail Clinics are assumed by many experts to be one effective way to address these needs, but it's important for healthcare stakeholders to better understand consumer perceptions better so that they can make better strategic decisions," Fyock said.

About The Retail Clinics Consumer Tracking Study

Market Strategies' study featured 1,815 online surveys conducted with individuals age 21 and older between April 10 and 17. Of the 1,815 completed surveys, 1090 were conducted among consumers who have not yet utilized a retail clinic and 725 were conducted among consumers who have recently utilized a retail clinic. Data collection was stratified across twelve major US cities where retail clinics have opened recently.

The data was weighted to match the overall demographics in each market as well as the proportion of users to non-users identified in the screening process. Significance testing was done throughout the study at the 5 percent significance level. Generally, a 95 percent confidence interval can be obtained by adding or subtracting 2.5 percent from a proportion based upon the full sample.

For further information on this study, please contact:

Jack Fyock
Vice President
Head of Emerging Trends in Healthcare Practice
410.203.1245

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