Retail clinics have grown substantially in number and popularity since their emergence in the early 2000s. Retail clinics are limited healthcare clinics that operate outside of physician offices and hospitals, typically in pharmacies, grocery stores, and big box stores like Target and Walmart. These clinics traditionally provide treatment of simple, acute medical conditions such as sore throats, colds, flu, cough, and sinus infections. Retail clinics may also offer expanded services like preventative care and vaccinations, but they remain distinct from urgent care facilities that provide imaging and laboratory services to treat more severe conditions. There are currently over 1,800 retail clinics operating in the United States providing approximately ten million patient visits per year. The five largest operators of retail clinics, dominating 90% of the market share, are: CVS (MinuteClinic); Walgreens (Walgreens Healthcare Clinic); Kroger (The Little Clinic); Rite Aid (RediClinic); and Target (Target Clinic).
While retail clinics can offer significant benefits to patients and the overall healthcare system, the establishment and operation of retail clinics raises a wide range of legal issues that must be addressed, such as state licensure, corporate practice of medicine, and privacy laws.
To read a Benders Health Care Law Monthly article addressing several legal issues that investors would be wise to understand, click here.