Retail HC Must Think Like Retailer

Posted on September 4, 2010

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Retailization in healthcare is more than an implementation strategy for making healthcare accessible; it must be a philosophy of doing business in order to be successful.

For a facility or system to successfully deploy its resources for maximum reach and benefit, the understanding behind the physical structure needs to be clear.

Retailization is not merely healthcare on every corner at reasonable prices. Retail healthcare takes on an operations mindset along with the attendant business model. It means delivering care with the left brain and investing business resources with the right brain, like a competing retailer would:  marketing, educating the consumer, incessantly tracking rivals and differentiating services in the mind of the consumer—all of which are currently weaknesses for most hospitals.

Customer satisfaction surveys may drive some capital projects now, but that is a reactive strategy. Retailers do not wait for numbers to sag to freshen things up and try a new way of communicating value; retail is always changing, always engaging. Retail sells style as much as substance, or translated into healthcare parlance, public image as much as outcome.

Hospitals will need to float RFPs for consultant input. They will need to work the social media angle, measure buzz, and figure out how to make an incredibly complex and expensive process like healthcare seem unintimidating, comprehendible, value-driven and worthy of my time to be proactive toward.

I think healthcare retailization is not something to enter into without a real game plan. It will need full investment to be successful—entrepreneurial, culture change, strategic—no half-hearted attempts. Can ‘the customer is always right’ ever mesh with ‘the doctor does no wrong’?  We shall see.

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