In early September, Walmart opened its first Healthcare Supercenter, a 10,000 square foot facility filled with every healthcare service you would ever need. Located in Dallas, Georgia, Walmart customers can duck in and get help for any type of ailment, from medical to dental and even behavior.
CVS and Walgreens combined have more than 2,000 in-store clinics across the country. But what makes Walmart’s latest move so interesting is the size and scope. Walmart’s move speaks volumes of what it must see in the future.
Walmart is quite capable of calculating the revenues it makes per square foot of retail space. According to an article in Forbes, Walmart and other retailers are exploring ways to protect or improve revenues per square foot, which is being challenged by consumer behavior. Amazon is largely driving the changes in revenue per square foot. As more consumers shop online, brick and mortar retailers are forced to look elsewhere to fill empty retail space.
The Siren of Convenience
The appeal to Walmart shoppers is convenience. The premise behind the Healthcare Supercenter is that anyone can walk in and see a healthcare provider with little to no delay. Whether you have a toothache, sore throat, bad vision, bad hearing, or feeling the itch of anxiety, help is only minutes away.
If your visit ends with a prescription, you can have it filled in a matter of minutes. If you need cough drops or even a gallon of milk, Walmart has made it easy for you to get what you need.
Consumer Marketing 101: Clear and Simple Pricing
Another feature Walmart customers will like is price transparency. Pricing is clearly displayed, which is a huge departure from traditional healthcare norms.
At one time, my family was without healthcare insurance, which made us quickly become savvy healthcare consumers. I learned that if I ever asked about pricing for any procedure or service I turned the practice into a hornet’s nest as everyone worked to figure out what my visit would cost. Walmart has removed the uncertainty, which is exactly what every consumer hates.
Not the Only Game in Town
CVS continues to test their health hub concept in four metro locations in the US, and hope to have 50 locations operating by the end of 2019. By the end of 2021, they plan to have more 1,500 locations nationwide.
Walgreens is testing several different primary care models. They’ve taken a slightly different approach. Rather than reinvent the wheel, Walgreens has partnered with Humana and United Health Group’s MedExpress. Walgreens provides the retail space; its partners provide the service.
Big Box Healthcare Driven by Consumer Behavior
As long as Americans are faced with huge deductibles or no healthcare insurance at all, they will feed the big box healthcare boom. As I mentioned earlier, when I was without healthcare insurance, I looked for a better price. If there were a Walmart Healthcare Supercenter in my community, I’d go there first.
And here’s why:
First, I know what it will cost me. If I go to a traditional medical practice, I’ll pay as much as $40 for the co-pay, plus 100% of whatever the fee is for the visit. And I won’t know what the fee will be until I get a bill in the mail. I could pay two or three times as much going to a traditional medical practice rather than going to Walmart.
Second, I won’t have to wait to see a healthcare provider at Walmart. What Walmart knows and what Walmart does better than a traditional medical practice is how to create a positive customer experience that drives repeat visits.
What Medical Practices Should Do
Your practice must make changes immediately. Marketing should either be added to your executive management meetings as an agenda item or pushed up in terms of priority. You should examine your patient acquisition activities and make sure your patient engagement strategy is increasing quality, improving outcomes, and decreasing costs.
If the status quo is your strategy moving forward, you will not reach your long-term goals. You may say, “Andy, our schedules are busy.” And that may be true, for now. Just remember that history is pockmarked with examples of organizations that had every chance to innovate and secure their success, but let arrogance get in the way.