Rhode Island stalls expansion of retail MinuteClinic

The national health care facility withdrew its application to open clinics amid regulatory questions.

By Mike Norbut — Posted March 13, 2006

Print  |   Email  |   Respond  |   Reprints  |   Like Facebook  |   Share Twitter  |   Tweet Linkedin

The growth of quick service specialist MinuteClinic hit a snag in Rhode Island, as the retail-based clinic has withdrawn its application to open five locations in the state.

The Minneapolis-based company was planning to open clinics within CVS stores in the same fashion that it has partnered with retail outlets around the country. The company currently operates more than 70 clinics in eight states.

However, Rhode Island health regulators had concerns about MinuteClinic's facilities, which do not include a sink or restroom. The clinic had applied for a license as an organized ambulatory care facility, a category that includes those provisions as standard requirements.

MinuteClinic, which withdrew its application in December 2005, said it has postponed its expansion plans in Rhode Island "for now," and called the state's regulatory environment "unique," according to a statement by company CEO Michael Howe.

"We've had a very different experience in the eight states where our health care centers are currently located and in the other states where we plan to expand later this year," Howe said.

MinuteClinic plans to expand to more than 150 health care facilities in the coming years, although it will not reveal where that expansion may take place. The company typically partners with large retail outlets, such as CVS, Target and Cub Foods, which carve out space for the clinic near the store pharmacy.

The clinics, which are staffed by nurse practitioners, tout convenience and a quick remedy for common patient ailments like sore throats or sinusitis. Patients often can get in and out, without an appointment, in 15 minutes.

Many physicians, however, have objected to the retail clinic model, saying it further fragments health care and steers patients away from their medical home.

During a public hearing for MinuteClinic's Rhode Island application last year, then-Rhode Island Medical Society president Fredric V. Christian, MD, told the state's Dept. of Health the "convenience care" offered by MinuteClinic was "in no way a substitute" for a relationship between a patient and primary care physician.

Newell E. Warde, PhD, executive director of the Rhode Island Medical Society, said the brush with MinuteClinic has helped some physicians realize that they may need to address some of the issues that have made retail-based clinics popular among patients.

While physicians might need to consider expanding access and operating hours, some may simply have to do a better job of communicating how easy it is for patients to get in and see them, Dr. Warde said.

"Maybe it's working harder at making the general public aware of the access they do have," he said. "That's a common sort of misconception that people have."

Back to top



Read story

Confronting bias against obese patients

Medical educators are starting to raise awareness about how weight-related stigma can impair patient-physician communication and the treatment of obesity. Read story

Read story


American Medical News is ceasing publication after 55 years of serving physicians by keeping them informed of their rapidly changing profession. Read story

Read story

Policing medical practice employees after work

Doctors can try to regulate staff actions outside the office, but they must watch what they try to stamp out and how they do it. Read story

Read story

Diabetes prevention: Set on a course for lifestyle change

The YMCA's evidence-based program is helping prediabetic patients eat right, get active and lose weight. Read story

Read story

Medicaid's muddled preventive care picture

The health system reform law promises no-cost coverage of a lengthy list of screenings and other prevention services, but some beneficiaries still might miss out. Read story

Read story

How to get tax breaks for your medical practice

Federal, state and local governments offer doctors incentives because practices are recognized as economic engines. But physicians must know how and where to find them. Read story

Read story

Advance pay ACOs: A down payment on Medicare's future

Accountable care organizations that pay doctors up-front bring practice improvements, but it's unclear yet if program actuaries will see a return on investment. Read story

Read story

Physician liability: Your team, your legal risk

When health care team members drop the ball, it's often doctors who end up in court. How can physicians improve such care and avoid risks? Read story

  • Stay informed
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • RSS
  • LinkedIn