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Retail-based clinics focus on ad campaigns


NEW YORK —Satisfaction ratings among those consumers who have visited a retail-based clinic may be remarkably high, but there’s no denying that there remains a sizeable group of consumers who are still unfamiliar with the concept and the services such clinics provide. Well, that’s changing—and fast—as two leading clinic operators launch advertising campaigns to drive awareness.

“While we have more clinics than anybody in the United States, consumer awareness of the clinics is still relatively low. We will begin to leverage our retail advertising spend to drive clinic awareness,” Tom Ryan, chairman, president and chief executive officer of CVS Caremark, told analysts during a conference call to discuss third-quarter results.

Just within the last several months, both MinuteClinic, which is owned by CVS Caremark, and Take Care Health Systems, which is owned by rival Walgreens, have broken new ground with major ad campaigns that promote their service offerings and convenience.

In late September, CVS Caremark kicked off its “Flu Shots Made Simple” campaign to bolster awareness of the company’s integrated flu vaccination offering via MinuteClinic locations, pharmacist-administered shots and scheduled flu shot clinics within select stores.

“This campaign highlights MinuteClinic as a key pillar within CVS Caremark’s commitment to flu prevention by providing convenient, on-demand flu shots,” said Melissa Studzinski, director of marketing at MinuteClinic.

“The campaign has also helped to drive awareness of the retail clinic model as a high-quality, low-cost healthcare option with high customer approval ratings.”

Flu shots have always been a key service of CVS/pharmacy and MinuteClinic, which, as of press time, operated 559 clinics in 27 states, so it was a natural progression to align MinuteClinic’s flu shot capabilities with other flu vaccination services offered at CVS/pharmacy.

The components of the multifaceted campaign include in-store signage and store radio spots, a national television campaign promoting joint CVS/pharmacy and MinuteClinic flu shot services, a MinuteClinic-dedicated TV campaign in select markets, newspaper ads in select markets, direct mail to targeted customers and public relations efforts.

As part of the campaign, CVS Caremark created a flu shot voucher program for Caremark clients whereby participating members are eligible to receive a flu shot at MinuteClinic at no out-of-pocket cost.

The campaign runs through Dec. 31, but flu shots will continue to be available at all MinuteClinic locations throughout the flu season. CVS/pharmacy and MinuteClinic have set a goal of delivering 1 million flu vaccinations this year.

Take Care Health Systems announced in mid-October the launch of a new multimedia brand and advertising program. The campaign, dubbed “Life Diagnosis,” marks the first integrated ad campaign since the clinic operator was acquired by Walgreens in May 2007, and is its first major branding initiative to focus on building health care around people’s lives. As of press time, Take Care Health Systems operated 292 clinics in 15 states.

The ads are meant to capture real life healthcare challenges and illustrate how Take Care clinics can serve as a healthcare alternative for consumers looking for quality, affordable and convenient care.

Take Care Health Systems has, as of mid-October, treated nearly 750,000 patients since its first clinic opened in November 2005. Roughly 250,000 of those visits, or about 30 percent, occurred between June and October of this year alone.

Meanwhile, since its inception about eight years ago, MinuteClinic, which CVS Caremark acquired in September 2006, has handled more than 2.4 million patient visits. What’s even more impressive is that in the third quarter of this year alone, MinuteClinic treated 280,000 patients. More than 20 percent of those patients had never been into a CVS pharmacy.

Granted, the recent spike in clinic visits can be attributed in large part to the fact that there are many more clinics in operation today than just a year ago. However, one should not discount the fact that awareness is growing—and will only continue to grow as operators take proactive measures. And as word spreads via such campaigns, smaller clinic operators also stand to benefit. It is a win-win for the entire convenient care industry.

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