Published on

Regular readers of JUCM News and JUCM know that multiple drugstore chains, big box retailers, and others have tried hard to steal business away from urgent care. While pharmacy companies have had a modicum of success in drawing patients concerned they could have strep throat and the like, no one has really been able to establish a substantial foothold in the way urgent care has. That doesn’t stop other companies from trying, though. In fact, H-E-B seems to have made a more considered commitment than some other companies that actually already focus on healthcare. Last year, the grocery chain announced it would open 12 H-E-B Wellness Primary Care locations in the Houston, San Antonio, and Austin markets. Unlike the standard drugstore clinic approach, the plan was to staff the centers with physicians (MDs and DOs), supported by nurse practitioners. As Alan Ayers, president of Experity Networks and senior editor, practice management for JUCM points out, one thing that makes the H-E-B initiative different is that the company has a history of offering on-site or near-site medical care for its employees—a move that has been adopted by other companies in an effort to cut down on total benefit costs. The difference is that H-E-B is now opening up their doors to neighboring communities. While Ayers does not see H-E-B as being a competitor to urgent care, per se, he notes that any potential threat would be in “a very large local employer group shifting care from local, in-network providers to its own on-site, near-site, or off-site clinics.”

Can a Grocery Chain Succeed in Offering Primary Care Where Other Retailers Have Generally Failed?