Written by Sofia Costa on May 9, 2016
in Healthcare Marketing

The first holiday long weekend of the year we packed-up the car, packed in the kids and headed to the cottage for some down time. No sooner did we arrive than my one year-old spiked a fever. We decided to give it a night and see how he was in the morning. The next day his fever persisted and now he was showing signs of a rash.

We found ourselves facing the dilemma almost every parent has run into at some point. Do we drive home? This felt pointless given that our pediatrician’s office would not reopen until after the weekend. Do we go to the emergency room? The symptoms were concerning, but didn’t feel they were hospital-worthy yet (besides the closest one was at least 45 minutes away). The local walk-in clinic usually had long wait times – with two kids in-tow, that was just not an option.

We decided to head to our local Walmart pharmacy. It was nearby, and they had recently opened up one of their new Jack Nathan clinics. We showed up without an appointment, were in and out in less than 30 minutes and were even able to pick up the medications that we needed at the same location. The place was spotless, the service excellent, and for two exhausted parents, it was the convenience we needed.  In short, it was a great PatientConsumer experience.

While retail clinics are still fairly nascent in Canada, they are common practice in the US and still expanding.  PatientConsumers are turning to them for treatment of acute care needs, and even chronic disease management and support. According to Oliver Wyman’s 2015 Consumer Study, both usage and favourability are on the rise. I can now see why.

willingness-to-treat

Retail clinics are not without their critics, who argue that by increasing access, retail clinics are driving visits and costs. In short, we’re opening up the doors to net new patients who weren’t traditionally willing to jump through the hoops of primary care to get symptoms treated.

That seems like a naïve, short-term view. Getting simple conditions addressed early (that would have previously been outright ignored) could save the system substantial costs because untreated symptoms would inevitably flare and worsen, and require a trip to a physician’s office or the emergency room.

The point is that retailers aren’t bad actors here, or even competitors. They are an emerging touchpoint for PatientConsumer care, and one that provides a good PatientConsumer experience thanks to a large footprint, sophisticated technology, and face-to-face interaction. Where they may fall short is where pharma and med device companies can step in – lending their deep SME in treating specific conditions and diseases.

Welcome to healthcare 2.0…

Sofia Costa is a Senior Account Director at Ariad Communications.

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