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J Healthc Manag. 2010 Sep-Oct;55(5):324-37; discussion 337-8.

Hospital-affiliated and hospital-owned retail clinics: strategic opportunities and operational challenges.

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Department of Healthcare Administration, Trinity University, San Antonio, Texas, USA.


Retail clinics have experienced an exponential growth in the last few years. While the majority of retail clinics are freestanding, venture-backed companies affiliated with retail hosts, an increasing number of hospital systems have decided to develop their own retail clinics or partner with existing national companies. Using a stakeholder approach, the purpose of this article is to assess the strategic considerations behind these decisions and the operational challenges associated with them and to use the results to develop a questionnaire that can be applied in future research in a national sample of healthcare executives. We conducted eight in-depth interviews with administrative and clinical leaders in seven hospital systems across the United States that have or had a relationship with retail clinics in the last three years. Our findings show that the hospital systems' association with retail clinics involves two main models: an affiliation with retail chains that operate the clinics and ownership of the clinics with an arms-length relationship with the retail chain. Hospital systems are engaging in these relationships for several strategic reasons: to increase market share through enhanced referrals to physician offices and hospitals, to become closer to consumers, and to experiment with nontraditional ways of delivering health care. Operational challenges included physician resistance and skepticism, poor financial performance, people's perception of retail clinics, staffing issues, and the newness of the business model. Six out of eight respondents thought that hospital affiliation with/ownership of retail clinics is a trend that is here to stay, although many provided caveats and stipulations. Further research is needed to provide more evidence about this emerging way of healthcare delivery.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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