Fifteen years ago, we launched Take Care Health Systems, a pioneering company in retail health clinics. Little did we know that our clinics, and similar ones that followed, would become an important component of the current merger and acquisition and partnership activity currently reshaping health care.
We did recognize the novelty of health care delivered by the right caregiver, in a convenient setting, at an affordable price that the clinician and the patient both knew. At the time, these concepts were new to health care and we believed that together they held the potential to have long-term influences on how the industry would evolve. We imagined retail health clinics as one day representing the “front door” of the health care system by providing early access that would often serve to start — and even direct — patients’ journeys as they worked their way through managing their health.
Fast forward 15 years, and it turns out that our front-door vision has held water. In fact, the clinics and the tenets that sprung forth from them promise to make a larger impact today than we ever imagined.
Looking back, the retail health clinics touched everything we hold dear in health care today. They helped launch the era of patient-centric care; brought price transparency to the industry; made care for most — if not care for all — a possibility by introducing prices that were affordable and accessible; and spotlighted the value of right provider, right place, and right time. Not long after the emergence of retail clinics, the health care industry saw the rise of concierge medicine, urgent care centers, and telemedicine.
Now the media spotlight is on some of health care’s giants as they jockey for position around the themes that retail clinics set in motion — CVS and Aetna, Walmart and Humana, Cigna and Express Scripts, as Walgreens sits in the catbird seat with various options available to it.