Retail health clinics struggle to attract patients

February 5, 2009

Only a small number of consumers are visiting the estimated 1,100 retail health clinics nationwide.

Only a small number of consumers are visiting the estimated 1,100 retail health clinics nationwide, and these medical offices are proving to be more expensive and complex to operate than their investors expected, according to a study.

About 3.4 million American families (just over 2 percent of the population) have used a retail clinic, according to a household survey by the Center for Studying Health System Change, which used information on about 18,000 people in 9,400 families.

Clinic operators report they "have had to spend heavily on marketing and public awareness" to attract patients, according to the study, and that nearby physician practices that expand hours and offer same-day availability pose a competitive threat.