Cost and quality remain important challenges for the healthcare system as more consumers become insured each year and expectations for access to cost-effective services has become the norm. Since 2010, insurers and employers have been dealing with reform mandates, the Cadillac tax, pre-existing conditions, and minimum coverage levels, all of which have chipped away at their profits and presented the need to reconsider the consumer experience.
Addressing Rapidly Changing Consumer Demands
While typically the healthcare market moves at a relatively slow pace, consumer demands for health services and care that is accurate, quick and affordable is sparking new and innovative approaches to deliver on what they’re looking for.
That something different can’t come too soon, as an additional underlying concern for the years ahead revolves around the awareness that traditional physicians and physician settings may not always be around. Experts predict that the U.S. will be short 90,000 doctors by 2020 and 130,000 by 2025. This is backed by statistics that demonstrate that one in three practicing physicians is over the age of 55 and at the same time 10,000 consumers a day turn 65 and by the age 65 about two-thirds of them have at least one chronic disease.
The design and delivery of healthcare has begun to evolve with these changes. New retail clinics and retail channels are two ways growth is happening in the industry that specifically speak to the looming physician shortage. Both these stakeholders have shifted to become healthcare players.
CVS: Branding Itself Healthcare-First
A look at CVS shows how the pharmacy has moved into being a healthcare brand by first launching walk in MinuteClinics and then deciding to stop selling cigarettes. A huge $2 billion sacrifice that they were willing to make to be considered a health care company. According to CVS’s Senior Vice President they are trying to connect all the different pieces of the healthcare landscape by addressing the cost, quality and access issues of patients, payers and providers.
Retail Innovators Filling Healthcare Gaps
Retail channels modeled after Costco are also helping fill the healthcare gap. For a yearly fee, members can receive information, low-cost access to doctors, psychologists, pharmacists, dentists and fitness experts. Plus, they can ask questions whenever they want and are guaranteed a personal response from a healthcare professional. Getting answers and advice on conditions can help members’ address certain health matters and lessen their reliance on emergency room departments.
Retail clinics and retail channels are new ways of providing meaningful, affordable health care. Having access to advice, care and services will help consumers become more informed and ultimately make smart healthcare decisions relevant to their lifestyles and budgets.
Sources: Adweek. For the Health Of The Nation. 3/2016. Vol 57 Issue 11 PP20-21.
Employee Benefit Plan Review. Telehealth and Healthcare Retail Channels Help Close Gaps in Care. 6/2016. PP15-17.