Case Studies

Retail Health at MultiCare Health System

MultiCare Health System is a not-for-profit health care organization based in Tacoma, Wash. The health system is made up of five hospitals, numerous outpatient specialty centers, and primary and urgent care clinics.


Retail health is an innovative growth strategy at MultiCare. The health system has been working to understand the patient, including patients’ goals for personal health and barriers to achieving their best health. Part of MultiCare’s vision is to be the Pacific Northwest’s highest-value system of health.
To this end, the system has developed a strategy to advance its goal of expanding access and market presence. This strategy, known as “First Touch,” is the first contact point with the health care delivery system and is an important influencer in consumer choice. MultiCare believes that an individual’s first contact often determines which provider that person will connect with.

To achieve its retail health strategy goals, MultiCare crafted a plan to use urgent care centers, retail clinics, freestanding emergency departments, ambulatory destination centers and a regional virtual care platform. The overarching goal was to serve 1.3 million patients by 2020, with specific targets for each area. Two areas, retail clinics and the virtual platform, have been launched as described below.

  • MultiCare RediClinics are a joint venture that expands care delivery in several local counties through 11 retail clinics in the greater Seattle area. RediClinics are staffed by MultiCare’s board-certified nurse practitioners. Patients can receive preventive services and prescriptions and be referred to MultiCare-affiliated physicians. Walk-in care is provided seven days a week. RediClinics cater to cost-conscious patients who may have high-deductible health plans but need in-person care.
  • In April 2015, MultiCare launched a virtual urgent care program through a partnership with Doctor on Demand. This telemedicine service provides on-demand video visits with board-certified physicians for a wide range of low-risk medical conditions. The product is linked with the health system’s electronic medical record system. Doctor on Demand appeals to tech-savvy consumers with time constraints who prioritize convenience. Still in its early phases of implementation, the partnership is promising. Since the initiation of the program, customer satisfaction scores have remained between 4.9 and 5 out of 5.

Overall, MultiCare is on target to meet its goal of seeing 1.3 million patients by 2020. It has already met several intermediary targets. The system continues to develop its offerings, particularly in the digital space, as it has recognized the potential for digital touch points to improve provider productivity, efficiency and reach.

Lessons Learned

  • A health system does not need to do everything by itself, and the potential value of partnerships should not be underestimated. Partners can help hospitals or health systems broaden their approach to overcome organizational inertia.
  • Creating a consumer-friendly environment involves more than patient care. Providers need to create a consumer focus along with a patient focus.
  • Developing a retail health strategy requires understanding the local market. Health systems should provide multiple entry points of care for the community.
  • The success of a retail health strategy will be measured differently from traditional models of care.

Christi McCarren
Senior Vice President, Retail Health and Community-Based Care

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