Trips to the hospital or doctor’s office are no longer the only ways to receive medical care these days. Patients – elderly, millennial and everyone in between – prefer convenience, easy access and short wait times for an appointment. The healthcare industry is listening.
Last week, Atrius Health President and CEO Dr. Steven Strongwater joined Dr. Karen Antman, dean of Boston University School of Medicine; Dr. Tobias Barker, VP of Medical operations at CVS MinuteClinic; Frank Nelson, Executive Managing Director of Newmark Grubb Knight Frank and Steve Van Ness, Executive Principal at Steffian Bradley Architects to discuss these issues on a panel moderated by Septima Maclaurin, Business Development Director at E4H Architechture. The panel, titled “The Retailization of Healthcare” at BisNow Boston’s Healthcare Expansion Forum, reflected many of the changes we are seeing and experiencing as part an industry-wide shift to focus care delivery on consumers rather than medical institutions.
In an effort to provide more convenient and accessible care, health systems are driving innovation in care delivery through alternatives to the traditional doctor’s appointment, such as caring for people in their homes or giving consults over online or over the phone. This patient-centric emphasis on care has also presented opportunities for disruptors to transform status quo healthcare in the form of walk-in retail clinics, establishing a footing in the healthcare space by touting convenience and access to a variety of services ranging from flu shots to urgent care.
While minute clinics have won broad appeal from patients eager for shorter wait times, healthcare leaders debate whether the “retailization of care” represents the future of the industry. Despite the convenience patients enjoy in visiting a retail clinic in the short term, this trend may put them at a disadvantage as their health needs change through the course of their lives. For instance, patient visits to retail clinics may not be captured in their electronic medical record. Without this information, primary care physicians may not be getting the whole picture when it comes to their patients’ health needs, making it difficult to administer the appropriate preventive care when necessary.
The healthcare industry is rapidly moving toward a system that emphasizes the value of care provided to patients. Rather than charging patients and insurers under the old fee-for-service model, organizations are beginning to proactively engage patients by coordinating their primary care and specialty services to keep people healthier longer, ultimately reducing the need for special trips to the doctors’ office and avoiding costly hospital visits.
Organizations with experience in the value-based care space, such as Atrius Health, are able to do this by combing through medical data, identifying patients who are at risk for illness or chronic disease, and reaching out to them to schedule an appointment or deliver the appropriate preventive care. Therefore, there may be opportunity for retail clinics and health systems to work together by integrating and securely sharing this information. As a result, patients would be less likely have gaps in their electronic medical histories and miss out on something that could benefit them.
Many believe that the driving force behind these transformations in healthcare is consumerism. As part of the movement toward value-based care, the healthcare industry is in the midst of a massive shift away from the institutional hospital setting into the ambulatory environment. Advances in technology are changing the face of care as we know it, allowing us to interact with our providers in new places and at convenient times. As the healthcare industry continues to evolve, it will be exciting to see how organizations innovate the ways in which they serve their patients.