Q&A on why the time is right for retail health

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January 10, 2020

Retail health is gaining traction thanks to a confluence of factors. Consumers want healthcare to become more convenient, more personalized and more affordable – all hallmarks of retail. Retail is interested in tapping the mammoth health industry. Traditional health organizations recognize that demand is growing for retail health. HRI sat down with PwC principal Igor Belokrinitsky about the blossoming of retail health.

PwC Health Research Institute (HRI): 

Why now?

Igor Belokrinitsky, PwC Principal

The regulatory environment is becoming more favorable toward business models and value propositions that have a retail component. For example, we are seeing a regulatory push toward greater price transparency and to encourage comparison shopping. The retail model benefits from that and is designed for that.

The regulatory environment is also pushing toward greater use of digital tools and technology. When this works well in the retail model, the digital experience can complement the physical experience. The regulatory push toward greater interoperability and portability of health data could make it easier to take your data and medical records and go elsewhere.

From the consumer end, increasingly the lines are blurring between their clinical and wellness, mental health, behavioral health, performance, beauty, and mindfulness/spirituality. That again lends itself to not just clinicians but retailers, who can help address a broader spectrum of needs, not just the clinical but also nutritional, cosmetic and athletic.

From the “retail” side of “retail health,” we’re seeing ongoing reinvention of the industry, after a period of time where everyone said retail was dead. We see a lot more retail innovation, with new retail formats being created.

As traditional providers of care consolidate and compete to capture market share, they’re increasingly realizing the retail channel is one way to win consumers. If you’re a healthcare company, you don’t want retail to do it without you.

HRI: What are the risks of retail healthcare?

Igor Belokrinitsky: It can actually increase the fragmentation of care. It’s one more place where you’re receiving care, but if you don’t have a consolidated medical record or a consolidated care navigator, that may contribute to fragmentation.

HRI: What should retailers know about healthcare before they become involved in retail health?

Igor Belokrinitsky: The first consideration is safety first. How do we minimize the risk? There is an increased focus and scrutiny now on medical data. If a retailer gets patient information, what are they going to do with it, how are they going to assure those patients it’s going to be kept private?

You don’t want people showing up with emergency medical needs to your grocery store or your pharmacy. You want the services you’re providing to be clearly understood. Somebody may be coming in for X but you also may discover Y, and you’re not trained or licensed to address Y so you need to know who your next line of defense is.

As traditional providers of care consolidate and compete to capture market share, they’re increasingly realizing the retail channel is one way to win consumers. If you’re a healthcare company, you don’t want retail to do it without you.

HRI: What tools or solutions are required for a successful retail health strategy?

Igor Belokrinitsky: Interoperability. You need to be able to connect with other elements of the healthcare ecosystem, which could include transportation and delivery services, behavioral health and substance abuse services as well as actual clinical services. Ideally, to be successful, you need to be able to connect to the rest of the ecosystem and not do it on your own.

You need to upgrade your consumer insights platform. If you’re a retailer, you probably have sophisticated segmentation and targeting tools. Those typically include behavioral information but are unlikely to include clinical information or epidemiological information. You may need to start adding those components to have a more comprehensive view of the patient as the consumer.

We need to understand consumers better and have a 360 view of that individual from the clinical lens, from the business lens, the behavioral lens and the social lens. At the same time, you have to have firewalls and safeguards that protect that data and manage how the people are able to access that data. You will need more capabilities from your customer relationship management technology tools, and they will need to be more health oriented or health savvy.

You will also need to be more culturally conscious. If you’re a retailer and you make decisions about what merchandise to stock, it can be very transactional. But if you’re engaging with an individual around their health, it’s more important to know their preferred language or their preferred personal pronoun. That duty of care, that relationship changes when you go from consumer to patient. 

For more of HRI’s insights and content, visit our Regulatory Center and report library

Contact us

Igor Belokrinitsky

Principal, PwC US

Benjamin Isgur

Health Research Institute Leader, PwC US

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