Urgent care clinics are walk-in, no appointment centers that treat colds and minor injuries. They are typically open weekends and late into the evening. MedExpress is the fast-growing West Virginia based urgent care clinic. It is a physician led, privately owned company dedicated to providing the best medical and healthcare experience. The emergency room physicians who founded MedExpress had seen all too often what long wait times and stressful situations can do to patients and families. MedExpress offers several services in its urgent care. These offerings include pharmacy prescriptions, immunizations/vaccinations, x-rays, EKG’s and physicals for schools and sports. The urgent clinic also cares for broken bones, strains/sprains, cold, flus, bronchitis and pneumonia. Retail and urgent care clinics are expanding the scope of services by offering walk-in patients alternatives to primary care. (Frederic, 2013) Urgent cares utilize marketing tools to offer better services and products to consumers, these tools include branding, and/or portfolio analysis to aid them in making decisions regarding life cycle of offerings.
Product Life Cycle All products have definitive life spans, especially within the healthcare industry where constant innovation and change have become mainstay. The product life cycle is a tool used by marketers for portfolio planning, strategy formulation, and forecasting. (Fortenberry, 2010). It consists of four developmental stages that include and introduction, growth, maturity, and decline stage. The introduction stage of the product life cycle begins with bringing the product to the market. The organizations are readily concerned with developing innovative and promotional strategies that will increase product awareness by the consumers. The second stage is the growth stage, which is characterized by rapidly increasing sales of the product or service. During this stage, organizations change their attention from building product awareness to building brand analysis. The next stage in the product life cycle is the maturity phase. In this stage the sales growth levels off and the market becomes established. Here, organizations seek to increase market share by differentiating their products from competing offerings. (Fortenberry, 2010). The last stage is the decline. This stage is when sales growth rapidly decreases and the number of market competitors also decreases. During this stage, organizations either eliminate the products or extend the life span by developing new uses for the product or services. MedExpress operates 119 clinics in nine states with the company core market being in Pennsylvania, Western Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. The chain has expanded to add forty new clinics in 2012 with fifteen more in the near future. (Toland, 2013). Because MedExpress is having a rapid increase in sales, it is experiencing the growth phase of the product life cycle. According to Toland, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “there’s a rapid, continued expansion often by private equity firms, these firms invested $4 billion in health and medical services and urgent care fueled much of that growth”. The growth stage of the product life cycle dictates that organizations put resulting cash back into their products or services to fend off new entrants into the market.
Branding and Portfolio Analysis Organizations need to employ different strategies in order to improve their market mix. Many companies choose branding as a way to improve their market mix. Brands allow customers to distinguish their goods and services from competitive offering and these brands are essential for the purpose of product differentiation. A brand is simply the image, emotions or perceptions that people experience when they think of a product. (Cheskis, 2012). MedExpress chose to rebrand their healthcare system in