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Retail clinics seeing utilization soar, popularity grow

Retail clinic claims volumes grew 200% from 2017 through 2022, mainly due to high usage during the pandemic.

By Jeff Lagasse

June 1, 2023

Retailers are well-positioned to disrupt healthcare, with a new Definitive Healthcare report showing that retail clinics have seen a 200% increase in utilization over the past five years – higher than primary care, urgent care and hospital emergency rooms.

Rising out-of-pocket healthcare costs, combined with increasing demand from patients for convenient healthcare options, have created a demand for alternative sites of care, with one recent KFF analysis showing out-of-pocket spending increased 35% since 2010, averaging $1,315 per person in 2021.

Retailers are stepping in to fill the demand for more cost-effective care, offering self-pay options with transparent and fixed pricing, and are well positioned to meet the preference for convenience with their existing physical locations, the report found.

For pharmacy giants like CVS and Walgreens, investing in clinics is also a way to boost prescription drug sales. Recent expansions into new services such as chronic disease care could also help diversify patient mix and offset declines that might come from competitors in an increasingly crowded market, such as urgent care centers and direct-to-consumer telehealth.

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