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Mayo Clinic to Open Walk-In Clinic in Mall of America

Posted Jul 31 2009 11:45am

Walk-in clinics that are located in malls, big-box stores, and retail drug stores have provided a new model for healthcare delivery at the basic level. They are frequently staffed by nurse clinicians and provide only a limited array of services. Patients with serious or acute problems are referred to other facilities. Generally speaking, these clinics have not offered lab testing in keeping with the type of low-level problems being treated. Although most of these clinics have been launched by for-profit companies, other health systems such as the Cleveland Clinic have opted to participate in the new model (see: Cleveland Clinic Partners with Minute Clinic in Retail Health Services ). A recent article discussed how Mayo was planning to open a clinic in the Mall of America with a somewhat different mission, marking perhaps a new strategy for some of these operations (see: Mayo Clinic going to Mall of America ). Below is an excerpt from the article:

In a move that could shake up the Twin Cities health care market, Mayo Clinic said Wednesday that it plans an outpost amid the roller coasters, restaurants and retailers as the Mall of America expands into a second phase. Mayo officials said they haven't decided what services the site will offer, but said they could include diagnostic screenings, wellness counseling and other services that might direct patients to the home campus in Rochester.... The new facility might, for example, offer telemedicine consultations and organize logistics for international patients. But it will not offer routine primary care such as treating sore throats and broken bones. At a news conference on Wednesday attended by Mall officials and Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Mayo executives said they plan to spend the next 12 months deciding the nature of the facility and the size of their investment. There is no opening date as yet.

There has been extensive tinkering with the walk-in retail clinic business model lately, including some versions that are offering an expanded menu of services to attract more patients (see: A New Version of the Walk-In Retail Health Clinic Launches in Walgreens ). One logical extension of walk-in clinics, in my opinion, will be toward wellness, health maintenance, and predictive/preventive medicine. It's revealing that the article quoted above emphasized the following activities in the planned clinic (1) diagnostic screening; (2) wellness counseling; and (3) telemedicine consultations. Also interesting was that primary care services were ruled out for the clinic. Of course, primary care is far from the core business of Mayo.

Notice the reference in the article to organizing logistics for international patients. Both the Cleveland and Mayo Clinics cultivate this aspect of healthcare delivery. My guess is that the families of many of these patients occupy themselves with shopping when their relative is being seen in Rochester. What better location for this activity than Mall of America with a gross area of 4.2 million square feet and 520 stores. Of course, integrating shopping with healthcare will not work for every health system. Let's stay tuned to see what happens with the proposed telemedicine consultations.

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