Why Hospitals Should Fear Clinic Flu Shots

All of us who work in or with health care companies are well aware of the number of “clinics” popping up that offer basic medical care, including administering flu shots, conducting sports physicals, etc. While these facilities certainly are stepping on our toes, the problem is that we’re not in a unified position to thwart their efforts.

Health care systems typically have a small service area, and many of us are in direct competition with those who are closest to us. So banding together to fight these clinics is a long shot. Also, these clinics focus on one of the biggest problems people have with traditional health care organizations — convenience. We simply take too long for the average consumer.

But something must be done. While we’re fragmented, chains like CVS and Walgreens can blanket a large area and make the public believe that they have the solutions people need, namely speed and convenience. But when it comes to caring for someone’s health, convenience should not out weigh quality.

Look at this video for an example (professionally done for CVS and Minute Clinic), then the second video which was made by a woman on her home computer.

Obviously this pharmacy doesn’t instill a lot of confidence in this woman. And they shouldn’t. Lacking doctors and records, these facilities are like McDonald’s for healthcare — they’re fast and convenient, but the quality is suspect. Should any parent trust their healthcare to a “Fast Health Clinic”?

Of course, there are exceptions — but they are few and far between.

So what’s our industry to do? Well for one, we must educate. Consumers need to know what these clinics are and what the risks are to their health. But more important, traditional health care companies need to realize that the days of calling all the shots in your service area are long gone and that we must respond to the needs of our patients. Competition is increasing, and it’s not even coming from those who offer what we offer.

Some Immediate Care Centers (hospital owned and/or managed) now offer online “waiting times” to help consumers decide where to go for help. Others offer 30 minute guarantees. And others even send email reminders about annual physicals, follow ups and flu shots with online appointment schedulers. But sadly, those who are actively maketing their “convenience proposition” are also few and far between. And this cannot continue.

As hospitals deal with this weakening economy and the reduction in procedures, we must find ways to reduce the growing leak of patients who are going elsewhere. Our future depends on it, and the health of our service area also depends on it.