In recent years, the retail industry has collided with the healthcare industry. Some call it the retail revolution.
This revolution is characterized by the rapid growth of large retailers into and into the overall delivery of healthcare and technology. Inspired in large part by the healthcare move toward consumerism and patient experience, the revolution was also driven by technological innovation-as well as how providers and patients responded to the pandemic.
Laura Kreofsky is vice president of strategy at Pivot Point Consulting, a health care consulting firm that works with provider organizations. He is a keen observer of the retail revolution and its impact on health care.
We interviewed Kreofsky to get an idea of the benefits and harms of retail entry into healthcare, the impact of the revolution on hospitals and health systems, his belief that provider organizations need to implement a digital strategy to compete, and what healthcare CIOs should do today.
Q. Who led the retail healthcare revolution, and what were the advantages and disadvantages of the revolution?
A. The revolution was led by four entities: Amazon, CVS, Walgreens and Walmart. While there are many similarities in their business strategies, each of them has unique capabilities and targets and it will be interesting to see how the scene has evolved and who has emerged as a leader in market or leaders.
Regarding the advantages and disadvantages of this transfer, the answer to that question depends on your position. This is obviously a challenge for traditional care delivery organizations-not only do they have new competitors, but they deliver care in places and have resource models that are largely foreign to traditional models. .
For patients and consumers, the advent of retail healthcare brings ease and better access, at a reasonable cost. These factors alone can lead to better outcomes in many cases.
However, it requires a paradigm shift – one we see in other industries and areas of our lives. If you think about 20-plus years ago, the patient / doctor relationship is sacred.
While this may still be true for specialty care and chronic conditions, most of us are willing to see – in person or virtually – any provider qualified to diagnose and treat minor and common conditions. We embrace it in other parts of our lives, from taxi services to banking. So why not healthcare?
And finally, for Amazon, CVS, Walgreens and Walmart, and many other players in this market, the retail revolution offers them a point of entry into the world’s largest industry, using their core technologies. service skills, geography and technology.
Q. How has the retail revolution affected hospitals and the health care system today?
A. My favorite line is from Ernest Hemingway The Sun Rises Again was when Bill, one of the main characters, asked, “How did you go bankrupt,” to which his friend replied, “Slowly, then suddenly.” That’s what is happening with hospitals and health systems today in terms of shifting market share and consumption.
None of this is new: The small health care storefront has been around for 15 years, and I wrote my first article on patient experience/consumerism 10 years ago, when I found out that it is a wave of the future.
However, for more than 10 years, most health systems have focused on: growth and market placement vis-a-vis other health systems; EHR optimization; and the impact of meaningful use, the Affordable Care Act, the 21s Century Cures Act, and, moreover, the pandemic. And in these years, retail leaders have built capabilities to capitalize on the promise of commercial health care.
The net result is that hospitals and health systems get behind the eight balls of this transformation – in terms of geographic convenience, advanced supply chain, right size / skilled staff and marketing . These can be daunting challenges even without the pandemic and multiple exodus of frontline health care staff. Now the threat is even greater.
Interestingly, the “Great Resignation” of hospital staff and the health system could spur the retail revolution. Bedside nurses and clinic staff can migrate to reduce stressful retail work settings, and IT analysts and developers can find careers in these dynamic and disruptive areas. .
Q. You suggest that the retail revolution increases the demand for healthcare systems to implement digital strategies and offer a frictionless, end-to-end patient experience that can be a differentiator and competitive advantage of convenience. In retail healthcare. Please detail what you think health systems should do.
A. Fitness systems need to move from a defensive position to an active one where they have the competencies or inherent competitive advantage to use. Here are three key areas to focus on.
First, access. Provider organizations need to make care more accessible – and through self -service. Taking advantage of the full capability of the patient portal is the stakes on the table. Much more needs to be done at the digital front door – the social and web presence needs to be optimized.
Everything from search-a-doc to real-time telehealth to service algorithms needs to be integrated and streamlined. Remember, in the retail world, it only takes a few clicks to find a care site that is close to home, open, provides the services you are looking for, and has the capacity. Provider organizations need to meet – or better yet – that “before the door” experience for consumers.
Second, back-end support. As much as we admire Amazon for its business capabilities and the hassle -free experience it typically offers, things can get messy with an order or return. And if they do, it will often need an action by Congress to resolve. I didn’t choose Amazon, instead just reflecting on how they normalize many retail processes – when things go wrong, it’s always a real challenge to find the right service agent / channel for the solution.
Healthcare providers can provide a more personalized back -end service experience – through their web presence, contact center, and culture that promotes committed and customer service.
This is the difference between going to a grocery store and asking where the baking soda is – in one store you are told “in aisle 15 or 16 I think” and in another you are walked to a specific area on the right side of the aisle. to find the product. What service experience will bring you back?
And third, comprehensive care. Health systems are the same – systems that provide a depth and breadth of services that retail providers cannot. Addressing the aspects of access and care experience services described above will help enable retention and longitudinal services.
From there, building – through internal services or the right mix of community -based specialty and social service providers – the ability to provide a complete continuum of care tailored to the needs of target populations can be a difference for provider organizations.
Q. On this note, what should CIOs and other IT leaders do to the health of provider organizations today?
A. From an IT/digital health standpoint, CIOs must be on the locktep of their strategy, marketing and growth teams. They also need to think more about EHR and clinic / hospital -based delivery. It’s important for CIOs and other health IT leaders to collaborate with their current vendors-and explore new vendors and technologies.
Staying informed of what’s happening in the digital experience, app, AI and startup space is essential. Attending healthcare industry events is a great way to do this – don’t leave it to the directors of operations. They fulfill their important role as operators. CIOs and other strategic leaders need to keep their eyes on the horizon.
As is well known, traditional health systems are behind the curve in response to market shifts. CIOs and other leaders need to be more visionary and willing to explore partnerships and platforms on a scale and speed that two or three years ago was unthinkable.