Retail Medicine a Big Shift for 2014

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , January 6, 2014

"So much is going on in the remote monitoring space as well as with the big box retailers that we saw embrace the flu shot trend a few years ago. These players are thinking to themselves about many other opportunities beyond just a flu shot," Connolly says.

"We are seeing that consumers are willing to not necessarily go to the hospital or even their primary care doctor now because they are thinking about price point in the high-deductible plan and they think to themselves this is pretty basic, it is more of a commodity. So maybe for an X-ray or lab work they can find alternative care venues that are much cheaper."

Connolly says some traditional healthcare providers have seen the writing on the walls.

"There are some that have picked up on this very quickly and are putting logical pricing information right out in the public because they feel very good and confident about their value. There are some that are clearly struggling with this idea," she says.

See Also: Kill Your Chargemaster

"Part of it with the hospitals and health systems is the arcane chargemaster. They are still grappling with what do to with that. People don't realize hospitals negotiate discounts for larger purchasers. All of that is true, but there is going to have to be some real simplification here and some very savvy communication for the average consumer."

In the meantime, we should expect a bumpy period as healthcare transitions away from mostly fee-for-service and toward value-based payment models and population health management.

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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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