Urgent message: Retail-based healthcare clinics are a growing phenomenon. A report from the California HealthCare Foundation, excerpted here, says public perception is split, and their economic viability remains to be seen. How do their services stack up against those offered by urgent care?

The first in-store clinics appeared in 2000 in the Minneapolis-St. Paul (MN) metropolitan area and were operated by QuickMedx, which later became Minute-Clinic. The company’s founder, Rick Krieger, says the business idea came to him when he tried to get his son in to see a doctor for a strep throat test. He recalls, “We started talking about why there was not a way to just get a simple question answered or a simple test, like strep throat, done. Why was there not some way to just slip in and be seen quickly? Wasn’t there some way to get care in a timely manner for a relatively simple illness? A quick, convenient way to diagnose without waiting in the ER or clinic for two hours? We are not talking about diabetes, cancer or heart disease. We are talking about colds and throat and ear infections.”

The Emergence of Retail Clinics