Retail Medicine a Big Shift for 2014

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , January 6, 2014

"That is major," Connolly says. "The consumers just by virtue of the fact that they are spending more of their own money are beginning to take a much harder look at what they get for their healthcare dollars. They're also bringing their expectations from their other shopping experiences to healthcare. So they are saying, if I can do my banking in my pajamas at midnight on my couch why can't I make my doctor's appointment then or why can't I get my lab results on my smartphone? Consumers are starting to demand better pricing or at least transparency in pricing and 'what am I getting for my money?'"

The shift toward retail medicine means that traditional healthcare providers will have to rethink their roles and business models in the new healthcare economy, and perhaps look at how other industries have adapted to fundamental changes in the way they do business, Connolly says.

"This is not going to happen overnight. This is a tough nut to crack, but we have been through this with the banking industry and the travel and hospitality industry so we know the pattern and we can see that when you start getting this consumer pressure, that is when things start shifting," she says.

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3 comments on "Retail Medicine a Big Shift for 2014"

Davis Liu, MD (1/10/2014 at 10:15 AM)
No question that health care is shifting this way. Highly likely that patients will also suffer in the process despite the theory of consumerism is good. As Ceci Connolly noted correctly - "The mile marker I sometimes look to when is we moved from pensions to 401(k)s and that was about a decade until we had the vast majority of Americans in 401(k)s." The challenge is that it benefited employers and left employees with little. As noted in a Wall Street Journal article - The median household headed by a person aged 60 to 62 with a 401(k) account has less than one-quarter of what is needed in that account to maintain its standard of living in retirement, according to data compiled by the Federal Reserve and analyzed by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College for The Wall Street Journal. Even counting Social Security and any pensions or other savings, most 401(k) participants appear to have insufficient savings. Data from other sources also show big gaps between savings and what people need, and the financial crisis has made things worse. The retail shift will occur in health care. There will be many who suffer. Unlike delaying retirement, one can't delay a medical problem.

Mike Sinsheimer (1/9/2014 at 3:41 PM)
The continued move to consumerism will be interesting to gauge. As more and more consumers evaluate cost, the question is will they put off treatment or visits and if they do, how will that impact community health? Time will tell.

Patients Will Pay (1/9/2014 at 2:14 AM)
Sadly the assumption that shifting costs to patients will result in better outcomes has been shown to be flawed. What happens is simply that people put off care based on cost not outcomes and people with the highest deductible plans are also those least likely to be able to pay for their care. For a great example of how this plays out look at dental health - most people without adequate coverage simply put off preventive care and end up with even higher costs for crowns and root canals




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