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May 28, 2009

Retail Health Clinic Summit: Can we get there from here?

At one of the pre-summit workshops yesterday, Tom Charland (ex-MinuteClinic exec and now consultant) channeled Clay Christensen (Mr. Disruptive Innovation) for a while and laid it on the line: unless retail clinics find a way to beef up off-season volume for at least 5-6 years, they may be dead in the water.  In that time, if Christiansen is right, HSA/HDHPs will become much more prevalent than they are today -- prevalent enough so that retail clinics could safely opt out of health insurance plan provider networks and have a sufficient patient base to draw from.

In the interim, Tom and I agree that retail health clinics need to break out of current operating modes, particularly into chronic care / disease management.  In fact, I was quoted on this point towards the end of a thoughtful piece on retail health clinics in BNA's Health Care Policy Report last month.  Retail clinic providers (including one from Spain), other consultants, payor representatives, drug and device reps, urgent care center operators, and even the US Armed Forces (planning a pilot project foray into retail health clinics) all showed up for the Summit, which provided a mix of perspectives on challenges and opportunities facing this nascent industry.

Slides from my talk at the summit on the Massachusetts experience, and lessons for the future  -- especially the need to move into chronic care and to partner more effectively with health care systems -- are provided here for your viewing pleasure.  My work with all components of health care systems -- including physicians -- makes clear that these combinations have the potential to be very powerful, and makes equally clear that the groundwork must be laid carefully with physician partners and champions in order to ensure the success of such an undertaking.

David Harlow
The Harlow Group LLC
Health Care Law and Consulting

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