The trend: Retail health clinic utilization saw the largest increase among all alternative sites of care between 2020-2021, according to new Fair Health data.
Digging into the data: Fair Health reviewed alternative sites of care utilization trends from 2016 through 2021, primarily concentrating on changes from 2020-2021. Here are our most important takeaways related to retail health usage and trends:
Why consumers are turning to retail clinics: Patients now prioritize convenience above all when seeking care. For many consumers, retail clinics are more accessible than traditional primary care practices.
Yes, but: Retail health utilization growth substantially outpaced other alternative care sites during the pandemic in large part because consumers grew comfortable with getting tested for COVID-19 and receiving vaccinations at clinics like CVS and Walgreens.
We expect the growth rate of retail health utilization to slow down, as free COVID tests and vaccines will soon be a thing of the past.
Our take: Physician practice closures, long wait times, and easy access to COVID tests and vaccines pushed consumers toward retail health clinics in 2020 and 2021.
Insurers will keep steering patients to lower-cost settings, such as alternative care sites (compared with hospital care, which costs health plans more money). But retail health players shouldn’t expect to sustain the utilization bump they experienced during the pandemic.
This article originally appeared in Insider Intelligence's Digital Health Briefing—a daily recap of top stories reshaping the healthcare industry. Subscribe to have more hard-hitting takeaways delivered to your inbox daily.
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