Take Care’s road to 1 million patients a testament to quick ramp-up of retail clinics

2/9/2009

CONSHOCKEN, Pa. —Take Care Health Systems recently announced that it has treated 1 million patients—news that is undoubtedly a testament to the success and need of retail-based clinics.

“The retail clinic model clearly fills an unmet need in the healthcare market. Overall, patients have widely embraced this new option for care, with visits nearly quadrupling since 2006 and more than doubling in the last year,” stated Carl Doty, research director at Forrester Research. Research projects that a year from now about 1-out-of-4 people will have visited a retail clinic at least once.

Data captured by the clinic operator revealed that nearly 30% of patients would have gone to a more costly site of service, such as the emergency room or an urgent care facility, and 11% would not have sought treatment at all. In addition, about 20% of patients are either uninsured or pay cash for these services (suggesting they may be uninsured or underinsured) and roughly 30% of patients do not have a healthcare home. These patients are subsequently referred to a local primary care physician.

Year 2008 proved to be a landmark one for the Walgreens-owned clinic operator as it surpassed in December the 300th clinic mark, opening 185 sites in the last year—not to mention it expanded into worksite-based health and wellness by forming in May 2008 the health and wellness division and acquiring I-trax/CHD Meridian Healthcare and Whole Health Management, two operators of employer on-site health-and-wellness centers.

That momentum will continue into 2009 as Take Care, which currently operates nearly 700 worksite and retail-based clinics, looks to end calendar year 2009 with about 800 retail-based and worksite clinics.

While patient satisfaction (data show a 92% overall patient satisfaction rating), quality care and convenience contributed to the growth of the market, there’s no doubt that a recently launched marketing campaign has helped bolster foot traffic.

As previously reported by Drug Store News, Take Care announced in mid-October the launch of a new multimedia brand and advertising program. The campaign, dubbed “Life Diagnosis,” is 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.

The ads are meant to capture real life healthcare challenges and to illustrate how Take Care clinics can serve as a healthcare alternative for consumers looking for quality, affordable and convenient care. The campaign has a specific focus on cough, cold and flu to coincide with the official start of the cold and flu season, and all Take Care clinics also began to offer flu vaccines.

With the latest patient-visit numbers in, it is evident that Take Care’s message is resonating with patients. As of mid-October, Take Care had treated nearly 750,000 patients since its first clinic opened in November 2005, and now that number stands at 1 million. Furthermore, markets that have had Take Care Clinics for more than one year have seen a 65% increase in patient volume from the previous year.

Now, in light of the current economic crisis, Take Care—whose services generally cost 80% less than the ER and are significantly cheaper than other options—also is striving to appeal to patients’ wallets through a new Winter Promotional Program. The program, which kicked off in January and runs through the end of March, is taking place at all Take Care Clinics and coincides with the height of cold, cough and flu season. Under the program, first-time visitors to Take Care Clinics are eligible to receive a $50 coupon book redeemable for such select Walgreens merchandise as cold medicine, facial tissue and hand sanitizer.

The company is hoping that the offer will not only further drive foot traffic but also help keep consumers healthy. Citing a survey by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Take Care stated that 22% of consumers said that the ailing economy was causing them to cut back on doctor visits. In an effort to save money, about 11% admitted that they have scaled back on prescription drugs or reduced the dosage of those drugs to make them last longer.

“With an increasing number of families and individuals in America forced to make tough choices when it comes to spending, health care should not be something that suffers,” stated Peter Miller, president and CEO of Take Care Health Systems. “Now more than ever, the care offered at Take Care Clinics is an excellent option for patients as they look to save on cost, without having to compromise the quality of their health or the care they receive.”

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