The health care establishment has yet to consider its patients as customers. This leaves opportunities aplenty for a retail industry that has long dedicated itself to customer service.
Thus, some of the largest retailers in the world, including Amazon.com, CVS, Target and Walgreens, are making bolder moves into the health care domain, even offering some on-site acute-care services, said Dan Stanek, executive vice president and head of the health-and-wellness practice at Dublin, Ohio–based WD Partners.
CVS, which acquired Aetna last November, has introduced its HealthHUB concept at four Houston-area stores to create a more holistic health care destination, complete with wellness rooms, health kiosks and durable health equipment, as well as service-and-product combinations for diabetes care and sleep apnea. Walgreens is following suit, in a partnership with Village MD, which will operate primary-care clinics, called Village Medical at Walgreens, near five Houston stores expected to open by the end of the year.
“They are taking a shopping mentality to health care and creating a health-and-wellness ecosystem”
"They are taking a shopping mentality to health care and creating a health-and-wellness ecosystem," said Stanek at Monday's What Healthcare Can Learn from Retail session. "They want to handle these things where people live and work, unlike much of health care." Urgent care has tried to do this, he said, but "they have a long way to go." Hospital chains also have a lot to learn about branding from retail, because hospitals still operate under their intimidating sit-and-wait model, Stanek said.
Dental has already created hybrid offices offering more aesthetic services; facial specialists are providing more plastic surgery; and sports-medicine practitioners are selling more fitness services and products. "Health care is different than just fixing something," Stanek said. "Health care is all the time.
“Health care doesn't understand omni-channel like retail does”
The number of medical clinics in retail space grew by 47 percent over the past three years, according to Accenture.
Meanwhile, more retailers are expanding their health care offerings. HyVee is opening its HyVee Health Market store-within-a-store concept at select locations. These feature a full-service pharmacy, a health clinic, a hearing-aid center and health foods and other healthy lifestyle features.
Moreover, it is only a matter of time before "tele-health" (the term for medical professionals administering advice and diagnoses by telecommunications) will explode across the industry. Even given the doctor shortage, retail will hire more assistant physicians and nurse practitioners to offer a wider range of medical services. "Health care doesn't understand omni-channel like retail does," Stanek said. "Hospitals are one-offs, and they don't understand scale and cost-efficiencies. Health care will have to shift away from the hospital-centric mentality."
By Steve McLinden
Contributor, Shopping Centers Today