High Foot Traffic
Charland points out that drug store foot traffic, however, is nowhere near that of what supermarkets or mass merchandisers pull in. Drug stores also are limited in the selection of merchandise that patients can shop.
While the strategic alignment may not be as perfect for convenience health clinics in a grocery store or discount merchandiser setting, these retail sectors are looking to grow their clinic business and partnerships because of the natural synergy with food and health as well as the nation’s focus on affordable health care.
Safeway, not officially in the clinic business, is said to be quietly building as many as 100 health clinics in its stores, which Merchant Medicine reported on last year without confirmation from Safeway. Charland speculated that Safeway is looking into offering health clinic services, including occupational medicine, to area employers. Such services might include pre-employment physicals, drug screenings and injuries. Through its subsidiary Safeway Health, Safeway has started marketing its health benefit solutions to other employers. To date, there has been no statement from Safeway about such health clinics.
Since it purchased The Little Clinic from private equity firm Solera Capital in 2010, Kroger Co. has been in a holding pattern with its 80 clinics. Publix Super Markets had hosted 40 Little Clinics in Florida and Georgia until it terminated its agreement with Solera Clinics last year. Charland believes Kroger is still trying to figure out its health clinic model before any significant expansion.
Charland said H.E. Butt Grocery, with 29 leased-space RediClinics, is best utilizing its grocery platform. RediClinics are run in association with Memorial Hermann Healthcare System in Houston. Last year the clinics expanded their services to include Weigh Forward, a medically supervised program for lifelong weight management.
The 10-week program, which retails for about $500, provides patients with comprehensive information and counseling on diet/nutrition, physical activity and behavior modification.
“It’s a lifestyle behavior modification program. You could just as easily call it a diabetes management program. It is very comprehensive and much more clinically sophisticated than the typical weight loss program. It takes full advantage of the fact it is in a grocery store,” explained Charland. Weigh Forward is an example of new strategic services convenience care clinics are adding for greater health care viability.