Healthcare Cost & Quality
| Apr 18 2019

The New Retail Health Services Model – Should Employers Care?

CVS is piloting three HealthHUB stores in Texas that focus more on health services and less on retail goods. A central feature — walk‑in MinuteClinics — offer services like vaccinations, lab tests, and diabetic screening, monitoring and treatment. By devoting more than 20% of each store’s floor space to health offerings, including licensed dietitians and wellness rooms, the company hopes to "set a bold course to transform healthcare in America" through better health outcomes and lower medical costs.

Some employers — especially those that don’t or can’t sponsor onsite health clinics — may see value in directing members to retail clinics like HealthHUBs for nonemergent issues, a strategy that could reduce overall medical plan costs by avoiding costly emergency room visits. Only 16% of employers with 500-4,999 employees offer onsite nonoccupational services, according to Mercer's National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans. Smaller employers may be less inclined to implement a dedicated onsite clinic because larger concentrations of employees are required to reach economies of scale.

But services like those offered at HealthHUB aren’t a replacement for a member's primary care relationship, something that is central to the employer-sponsored concept. A growing number of employer clinics are serving as a patient‑centered medical home, a delivery model through which patients who are high risk or chronically ill have their care coordinated by a primary care physician or other primary care staff.

Moreover, members visiting a retail clinic might perceive it to be full primary care, which could serve to further fragment the healthcare ecosystem at a time when we’re needing to improve collaboration and cohesiveness. Employers should understand the community needs of their population and provide effective options to meet them where they are.

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