Whether it’s taking care of a required physical exam, finding out if an injury requires an X-ray, diagnosing an ear infection, or getting a needed prescription for antibiotics, retail centers are quickly becoming the go-to place for minor medical needs. 

With more than 1,350 clinics in supermarket and retail settings nationwide, and growing, not only are healthcare providers saving money by keeping patients out of the emergency room—and by utilizing nurse practitioners to treat minor ailments—but consumers are now privy to an unprecedented level of convenience in seeking healthcare services. 

In Healthcare Design’s January/February issue, we delve into the design ramifications for this quickly growing trend, including how these small spaces are being designed, branded, and integrated within their host retail settings.

“These sites are ideal for patients who simply need an eye exam, vaccination, bee sting treatment, wise counsel, or a referral,” says James G. Easter, Jr., senior vice president, principal & director of planning, HFR Design, Brentwood, Tenn. 

Because the local market or drug store are places that consumers patronize frequently, hopping on over to a retail clinic couldn’t be easier. 

The clinics are also proving to be a great strategy for providers to offer a greater integration of care throughout the community, which is particularly key as healthcare reform rolls out. 

“Retail clinics are filling a gap in the nation’s healthcare delivery system and address many aspects of healthcare reform—better health, better quality, and better control of costs,” says Shelly Lummus, director of retail medicine, MemorialCare Health System, Long Beach, Calif. 

In fact, according to the Convenient Care Association, medical services delivered at retail clinics is 30% to 40% less expensive than at the physician’s office, and 80% less expensive than the emergency room. 

“Patients and parents searching for quicker, more convenient, affordable alternatives for the treatment of minor ailments and routine healthcare needs are finding comfort and care in retail health clinics,” Lummus says.