As Amazon threatens both retail sales and a pharmacy play, Target seems to intent on building its own retail-pharmacy-provider ecosystem.
Target and Kaiser Permanente announced today a large expansion of their collaborative clinic program. In coming years, nearly 3 dozen Kaiser Permanente-staffed medical clinics will be operating in California Target stores.
The two companies joined up in late 2014, opening 4 such clinics. Today’s announcement is of 31 additional locations opening up over the next 3 years, starting with a few in November. The locations will be staffed by licensed nurse practitioners and vocational nurses and offer telehealth consults with physicians. According to a statement from the two companies, the clinics will offer simple services like flu shots and treatments of minor illnesses including earaches and strep throat, but also up to helping patients “[monitor] and care for chronic conditions including diabetes, cholesterol and high blood pressure.”
Target’s senior director of wellness, Steve Lafferty, indicates in the statement that “Expanding the number of Target Clinic locations makes these offerings available to even more Southern California guests, and gives Kaiser Permanente members additional reasons to choose Target's easy, convenient and inspiring shopping experience."
The last part there may be key, strategically: Kaiser Permanente has 11.8 million members across a handful of Western states, Hawaii, Georgia, and the Washington, DC metro area. Trying to solidify retail store brand loyalty among a payer/provider system’s large base could be extremely profitable for both the store and the health company.
The announcement also represents another step for retail’s coveting of the big healthcare pie. Target allowed CVS Health to buy its entire in-store pharmacy operation in 2015 for roughly $1.9 billion. While that may seem like getting out of the business, it incorporated a respected pharmacy brand into the stores. The Kaiser Permanente relationship apparently includes services from CVS as well.
“CVS Pharmacy and MinuteClinic are pleased to play a role in this unique health care relationship," the official statement quotes Sharon Vitti, senior vice president and executive director of CVS’s MinuteClinic brand. It also notes that MinuteClinic “has been providing administrative services to Kaiser Permanente in support of its four existing Target Clinics.” A visit to the new Target-based clinics will allow eligible Kaiser Permanente members to receive a one-time fill at the CVS Pharmacy co-located in the store.
In a time when Amazon is simultaneously threatening retail sales and also threatening a move into pharmaceuticals, Target seems to be moving towards its own clinic/pharmacy/retail ecosystem with the help of a major payer.