Learning a Lesson from Private-Sector Clinics

When major drugstores and retailers -- Wal-Mart and the like -- began setting up retail health clinics, the word went out to states and localities: ...
August 1, 2008
 

When major drugstores and retailers -- Wal-Mart and the like -- began setting up retail health clinics, the word went out to states and localities: Look and learn. This may be the way to address access issues, especially for the rising number of under- and uninsured Americans. The mini-clinics offered inexpensive health care for the basic what-ails-you: Patients could walk right in and get an ear ache checked out, have a throat swabbed, get a tetanus shot or even a simple physical.

The clinics were all the rage a year or two ago. Now they're in trouble. At least some of them are. Seems a number of them weren't turning a profit fast enough for their investors.

According to recent news stories, the sputtering economy and impatient private investment firms could be to blame for a falloff in the number of retail clinics -- there were 12 fewer last month than there had been the month before.  And there had been closings before that.

The clinics that failed tended to be ones backed by private backers who partnered with large retailers. Those that are succeeding often took two years to turn the profitability corner: deep pockets or patience paid off.

Maybe that's the lesson from the retail clinics. Quick success is like a free lunch: rare.  

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