In view of this year’s Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, being the largest retail shopping day of the year. I thought it would be appropriate to look at a new phenomenon that is quietly changing the nature of healthcare. Healthcare Retailization.
As public exchanges of the Affordable Healthcare Act are being implemented they are making the U.S. healthcare a direct-to-consumer business(“retailization”) with dramatic effects on how therapy services will be delivered and paid for in the future. This is a huge change from the healthcare model most of us are familiar with, where doctors referred therapists a steady flow of patients and the insurance compaines paid the bills.
Physical Therapy is going retail very quickly
Traditional referral networks and reimbursement models are disappearing before our eyes. Those that hold on to the traditional employer insurance benefit model will miss out on what patients truly want and are wiling to pay for.
Innovative therapists will develop and offer new cash services and products that satisfy consumer demand. Don’t be left behind the healthcare reutilization revolution. You could find yourself on the outside looking in as you see your referrals and revenues dwindle.
Since World War II, health care 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 health care is changing – faster than you might think.
Consumers are becoming more sophisticated and increasingly involved when it comes to their health care
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 health care than it does today. (Not including good old-fashioned house calls, of course.)
It requires health care to have more of a retail mindset
This revolution in the healthcare industry is known as “retailization.” It’s thought of as B2C versus B2B and it requires health care 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
- Give patients increased access to information and care. Think easy access to healthcare education, personal records, 24-hour care and more.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Consumer empowerment is all about patients feeling in charge of their health care. 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.
- 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.
Start to adapt to the retailization of healthcare
Have you started to evolve your organization to adapt to the retailization of health care? We’d love to hear how you’re doing. Need help? We’d be glad to guide you.
There was a time in the not so distant past when buying a new car meant traipsing from dealer to dealer and haggling with salespeople who deftly concealed actual costs in order to boost their commissions.
Thanks to the Web, today’s customer arrives at a dealership armed with up-to-the-minute specifications and price information, having made a decision before leaving home — and today’s successful salesperson is a “product specialist” who may spend more time interacting with a potential customer electronically than in the showroom.
A similar phenomenon is rapidly gaining momentum in healthcare.
A 2013 Pew Research Center project revealed that 72% of Internet users had looked online for health information within the previous year, with the most commonly-researched topics being specific diseases, conditions, treatments, procedures, doctors and other healthcare professionals — and, among smartphone owners, 52% reported using their phones to look up health or medical information.
Consumers are shopping around for healthcare
With the implementation of health reform, consumers have begun to shop around for health insurance plans, too, spurring insurers to design self-service products that are transparent and value-based for the individual-purchaser market.
The incredibly broad variation in healthcare pricing and quality from one area of the country to another has become common knowledge and led to some very innovative enterprises.
Cash PT Lunch Hour Interview December 9, 2015
Please make plans to join Aaron Lebauer and I on December 9th, 2015. Aaron will interview me on his Cash PT Lunch Hour about how to take your practice idea and turn it into a profitable cash practice in 60 days. So if you are in the exploration stage of starting your own practice then you don’t want to miss this interview.
Get Your Own Copy of On Fire
As therapists we have tremendous opportunity to use our abilites, education and expertise to enhance client’s lives. What a privilege? If your are in the therapy business to serve people, then my new book On Fire: Ignite Your Passion with a Cash Therapy Practice might help you. The healthcare industry has undergone so many changes lately and many therapists are overwhelmed, overworked and confused on where to turn to for help in the battle.
On Fire takes a close look at innovative therapists who are using alternative ways to deliver high-value care to their patients. Cash therapy services have emerged as a viable alternative to accepting business as usual.
If you are intrigued by the attention that cash-based practices are attracting On Fire is a great primer to help you get up to speed on the key issues and how if might impact your practice. The book is available on Amazon. If you are interested in getting your own copy join my email list and I’ll keep you up to date on the special pre-order bonuses I’m giving away.
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