The empty space at your local mall may soon be home to a medical clinic. Two main factors are driving this growing trend: the increase of patients with access to healthcare insurance and changes in mall shopping trends.
While “healthcare at the mall” may challenge how we think about the delivery of services and the quality of care, it clear that the medical retail industry is taking hold: According to a recent Bloomsburg article, there are nearly 9,400 walk-in clinics in the U.S. and more than third of them are located either in strip malls or shopping centers.
For healthcare organizations, medical mall clinics offer multiple benefits: retail malls get a lot of traffic, are highly visible, have great signage opportunities, and can be cheaper to rent. Hospitals, in particular, can reduce emergency room costs and traffic by having a walk-in clinic at the mall where patients can receive walk-in for common health ailments and minor injuries. No-appointment-needed Urgent Care centers can fill location voids by moving into the mall.
Like walk-in health clinics at pharmacies, patients benefit by mall health clinics, too. Costs at Urgent Care centers and walk-in clinics are often significantly cheaper than emergency room costs and can save patients hundreds of dollars per appointment. Extended office hours and the ability to get treated without an appointment are also huge draws for patients.
The retail medical clinics are attractive to mall developers and management companies, since they tend to sign longer leases, have better credit and often pay higher rents. This so-called “Blockbuster strategy” has gotten the attention of private equity firms and venture capitalists, which see the 20 percent growth in walk-in clinics as a strong investment. Since 2010, more than $3 billion has been invested in Urgent Care clinics, says the research firm PitchBook.
Some independent Physicians are taking the retail medical clinic model and adding their own twist. A recent Washington Post article showcased an independent Virginia doctor who opened in a walk-in clinic at a local truck stop that caters to truck drivers whose on-the-go lifestyles often prevent them from receiving proper healthcare.