Pharmacist pulling medication from shelf

What Exactly is the Retailization of Healthcare?


Since World War II, healthcare has predominately been a B2B affair. Patients didn’t have much say in the matter. Yet here we are, on the heels of the 50-year anniversary of the end of World War II, and healthcare is changing – faster than you might think.

Consumers are becoming more sophisticated and increasingly involved when it comes to their healthcare. They’re no longer content simply following their provider’s advice. They’re much more engaged, and it’s occurring earlier in the process. For instance, they’re searching online. According to Google, 1 in 20 searches is about a health-related issue. And when it’s time to seek treatment, consumers want you to provide care on their terms, taking into consideration their busy lifestyles. It seems safe to say convenience to the consumer has never played a bigger role in healthcare than it does today. (Not including good old-fashioned house calls, of course.)

This revolution in the healthcare industry is known as “retailization.” It’s thought of as B2C versus B2B and it requires healthcare to have more of a retail mindset. An example is how, over the last decade, the banking industry has evolved to a retail model with great success.

As patients start to yield more influence when it comes to how your products and services are used, the way you serve consumers has to adapt to accommodate the demands of this quickly changing market. If you don’t, your competitors will. So, what can you do?Market directly to the consumer. In many respects, thanks to the Affordable Healthcare Act, gone are the days of the healthcare industry dealing mainly with businesses and employers. You have a lot of new potential customers and they want your attention

  1. Give patients increased access to information and care. Think easy access to healthcare education, personal records, 24-hour care and more.
  2. Increase affordability. It’s an incredibly competitive market out there. Find ways to shave costs where you can or consider implementing a loss-leader strategy.
  3. Give customers convenient care. We’re seeing an upswing in retail locations like Target, CVS and Wal-Mart providing medical services. Consumers can get a flu shot, a prescription and buy eggs and milk all in the same trip. You may not be able to offer eggs, but you can offer retail-like amenities.
  4. You’ve got to be transparent in your pricing and your product offering. Remember, it’s not just about sharing prices; it’s also about proving value.
  5. You have access to a lot of patient data. It’s up to you to responsibly gather, analyze and interpret the data to gain a better picture of who your customers are and what’s important to them.
  6. Consumer empowerment is all about patients feeling in charge of their healthcare. They want you, quite frankly, to do right by them. So, keep it simple, give them valuable and cost-effective options, and allow them to personalize their own care, which could entail choosing who to see, as well as when and where to see them.
  7. It’s been written that there are more mobile phones sold than babies being born. There’s no doubt mobile’s importance continues to make its way into the healthcare arena with mobile health apps, geo-targeting, access to electronic health records and online medical information, and things as simple as appointment reminders and confirmations. Don’t overlook mobile’s importance.

Have you started to evolve your organization to adapt to the retailization of healthcare? We’d love to hear how you’re doing. Need help? We’d be glad to guide you.