Retailers Become Major Player in Tech-Based, Team-Oriented Approach to 'Whole Health'
There’s a major shift happening in the healthcare industry to make itself more a part of consumers’ everyday environment, and it’s happening outside of the doctor’s office. Retailers are pushing to use technology to hype up the health management experience and bring consumers into stores for services that typically take place at a medical office.
Walmart just opened its second health center since September 2019, and CVS plans to open HealthHUBs within 600 of its locations by the end of 2020. These new retail clinics will use technology to drive an enhanced patient experience, offering services like primary and chronic conditions care, counseling, dental, optical, hearing, health insurance education, enrollment, and more.
Small Strides in the Industry Aren’t Enough
The healthcare industry has made small strides over the last decade to encourage providers to deliver quality care at a reasonable cost. For example, the trend to move from a conventional fee-for-service (FFS) reimbursement model to a more value-based care model has shifted the emphasis of care by rewarding general practitioners for keeping people healthy.
We’ve also seen this trend within the Medicare Advantage marketplace. The Center for Medicare Services (CMS) is increasingly identifying ways to reduce healthcare expenses via innovative delivery mechanisms, while working with insurance carriers to introduce new benefits such as transportation to and from doctor’s services, meals after hospital discharge, and fitness memberships and discounts.
These small strides haven’t proved to be enough yet, however. Today, six in 10 adults have at least one chronic disease, and 91 percent of them say they need more help managing their health.
People want easier, speedier access to healthcare — from minor ailments to chronic conditions — and they want to manage their exposure to unplanned health expenses.
How Retailers Are Jumping in to Move the Needle Forward
This opportunity to help improve health management is expansive, and retailers like Walmart and CVS are noticing. They’re beginning to recognize the complexities consumers are facing with managing their health.
As digitally connected tools like mobile health apps, wearable devices, and telehealth services become a regular part of care, health management is moving from a physician-centered approach to a team-oriented approach, with retailers becoming a major team player.
While providing better access to health services is an obvious advantage for retailers, they’re also finding a second benefit in entering the consumer health management space: improving health outcomes through increased engagement.
By delivering products and services that are specifically designed to address an individual’s health needs, challenges and goals, retailers can provide an environment where the consumer is more comfortable engaging with technology in their stores for health-related services.
Fully-serviced health clinics aren’t the only way retailers are providing these tailored experiences. Many are also turning to in-store kiosks that provide shoppers with a convenient way to connect with and take control of their health. These kiosks offer services like vision screening, health assessments, weight and body mass index calculators, blood pressure tests, and health plan enrollment help.
By meeting consumers where they’re at during their daily lives, technology like this allows retailers to bridge the gap between consumers and wellness organizations.
Shift Towards 'Whole Health' Approach Changing How Insurance is Bought and Sold
It’s not just consumers who benefit from receiving the appropriate level of healthcare at the appropriate cost. Health insurance carriers and providers are learning that improving primary care services is a less expensive way to lower their downstream costs.
It's estimated that out of the 90 percent of the nation’s $3.5 trillion in annual healthcare expenditures used for chronic and mental health conditions, $500 billion of those costs are avoidable through improved primary care management.
The health insurance space knows how important preventative medicine and active health management is in combating disease, but it has struggled in the past to find a holistic approach. As a result, they’re taking notice of the opportunities retailers are creating for the healthcare market, and just like retailers, they’re recognizing the benefit of using technology to bridge the gap between their consumer base and service offerings.
Working in the Medicare solutions market, we’ve already seen a shift away from the traditional insurance sales approach to a more digitally based one among senior health insurance. The next step is to integrate this process within people’s everyday lives.
The challenge insurance companies face is finding a way to accomplish this when you’ve got two major roadblocks working against you: one, most insurance companies are severely lacking in technological abilities and, two, consumers loathe the insurance shopping process.
By building tools that can simplify the process of learning about, shopping for and enrolling in health plans, companies are attempting to combat the inherent inhibitions effectively creating an everyday experience that consumers are comfortable engaging with. That comfort helps sets the stage for a positive buying experience, whether it begins at home, in-store or on a mobile device.
John Clifford is CFO and COO of Ensurem, an online, multicarrier insurance brokerage with a large and swift capacity to assist over 300,000 seniors per month trying to navigate Medicare coverage options.
John Clifford is CFO and COO of Ensurem, an online, multi-carrier insurance brokerage with a large and swift capacity to assist over 300,000 seniors per month trying to navigate Medicare coverage options.
Clifford has extensive life insurance experience ranging from start-up to multi-billion dollar corporations. In all of his roles he has leveraged the power of technology and has managed numerous highly successful project implementations. John has pioneered the use of technology to link consumers in an integrated seamless manner to the insurance purchase process.
Ensurem's innovative technology facilitates the exchange of information between the buying public and health insurance industry, allowing them to establish relationships with most of the major health insurance issuers in the U.S.