When it comes to meeting consumers’ ever-changing preferences and demands, the retail industry is leading the way. From mobile apps, to subscription-based models, to even on-demand-services, consumers have more shopping options and channels than ever. As patients become increasingly involved in choosing and educating themselves about their healthcare options, the healthcare industry will need to take a page from the retail industry’s playbook to attract and engage patients. With technology redefining how we live, health and wellness providers will need to find innovative ways to leverage technology to meet patient needs. Here are three real-world examples of how healthcare retailization is changing how patients access medical care.

Monthly Healthcare Subscriptions

For the cost adverse Millennial market, anything healthcare providers can do to both lower the cost of care and to increase the ease of use, will likely give them a competitive advantage. And, that is what large healthcare chains, like CVS, are looking to do. Rolled out as a pilot in three major cities, CVS’ CarePass program has just received the green light to be offered nationwide. Similar in structure to Amazon Prime, CarePass1 allows members to get discounts on drugstore items, prescriptions delivered to their home, and access to a pharmacy hotline. CVS hopes that by offering a low-cost, high-convenience service that they will be able to capture more of the Millennial market that prefers on-demand delivery options. The nationwide service is expected to be available by early 2020, and costs $5 a month or $48 per year to join.

Mobile Payment Options

As consumers move toward a cashless and, in some cases, bankless financial experience, healthcare providers should follow suit. Fast casual dining restaurants have capitalized on this mobile payment trend with Starbucks already having received mobile payments from some 22 million of its customers in 2019.2 With payment options like CashApp, PayPal3 and Venmo handling over $174 billion in transactions in the second quarter of 2019 alone, many health and wellness companies are offering flexible payment options as well. In additional to traditional forms of payment, some health service companies like Aveon Healthcare, in Tucson Arizona, are allowing patients to pay for their medical care through PayPal. 

Real-Time Medical Updates

From ordering food through UberEats or tracking a delivery by FedEx, consumers expect to be kept updated at all times. To meet this need, hospitals have created new technology to better connect doctors, patients, and their families. Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN)4 has implemented a new real-time update application called EASE that is specifically designed to create an open line of communication between medical staff and a patient’s family during and following surgery. For those family members that are enrolled, they can either opt in to receive SMS or text messages updates as a patient moves through the various steps before, during, and after surgery. EASE also allows family members to send text messages, through the app, that are received and can be responded to by medical staff, in real-time. Since its December 2017 deployment, EASE is now being used within LVHN’s operating rooms, critical care units, cardiology cath labs, NICU, and PICU care units. To date, clinical staff have sent out over 75,000 EASE messages and the software has been used by over 8,500 families and loved ones.

As consumer preferences continue to change and retail giants like Amazon roll out new ways to meet consumer needs, the retailization of healthcare is expected to continue. The key will be in how quickly healthcare companies can adapt and enhance their patients’ experience.

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