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Retail Medicine Syncs with High-Deductible Health Plans

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, February 25, 2014

HLM: What advantages do traditional retailers have over traditional medicine with consumer-driven healthcare?

Kauffman: There are some very distinct advantages for retailers. Their business model has evolved in understanding the wants and needs of consumers. Traditional healthcare organizations, outside of maybe the physician relationship with patients, are still trying to figure out their relationship with the consumer. In fact, the definition of customers is changing from what use to always be thought of as the employer as the customer to the individual as a consumer of healthcare.

There is a distinct advantage that retailers have with brand recognition and trust of the brand. You know what you get when you walk into a certain retailer. It is not that same way in healthcare and a lot of traditional companies in healthcare recognize that. We are seeing roles being formed at the senior level such as chief experience officers.

They are hiring outside of the industry, particularly in the hospitality industry. The focus is on the customer that other industries' business models have been anchored on. The convenience factor is an advantage as well. How often do you walk into a retailer on a given week versus walking into a hospital setting?

The ability to capture the hearts and minds of consumers is much easier for retailers because of the frequency that people walk in, and I don't want to discount the e-commerce presence that organization have. The interactions are much more frequent. Once you get a captive audience there is an ability to drive that engagement to another level.

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