Kaiser Permanente (KP), the biggest integrated U.S. health system, and Target, one of the largest national retailers, are launching 31 more KP-staffed retail clinics in Southern Californian Target locations.
Branded “Target Clinic, care provided by Kaiser Permanente,” the partnership already has four Target Clinics in the San Diego area. The expansion will add four more in the San Diego, Orange County and Riverside areas in November.
The two companies will open the rest of the 31 clinics in Southern California over the next three years.
The expanding partnership is part of a growing trend to bring healthcare to consumers and away from hospitals, emergency rooms and overbooked primary care physician offices. Target Clinics are meant to supplement a person’s healthcare. Patients can go there for flu shots, pediatric care, women’s healthcare, chronic disease management and minor illnesses like sore throats and colds.
The clinics are staffed by licensed nurse practitioners and licensed vocational nurses. Target Clinics make physicians available through telemedicine consultations. MinuteClinic, which is part of CVS Health, provides administrative help.
Retail clinics are seen as a way to promptly provide less expensive care and reduce the chance of crowded physician waiting rooms, which could be a looming problem in California. A recent report from the Healthforce Center at the University of California, San Francisco predicted that California won’t have enough primary care physicians by 2030. The report also said half of the state’s full-time equivalent primary care physicians will be nurse practitioners and physician assistants by 2030.
One alternative to help with the expected shortage is retail clinics and urgent care centers. Beyond expanding efforts like Target Clinics and MinuteClinic, urgent care centers are expected to grow in the coming years. American Development Partners, a private equity and real estate firm, recently invested $1 billion in American Family Care, which will allow the largest urgent care center operator in the U.S. to expand from more than 180 clinics to nearly 500 locations.