Last week, I had the honor of attending FMI's Health and Wellness Stakeholders Summit, in Herndon, Va., to moderate a panel discussion on consumer-driven health care. What came of that discussion, and from the other presenters I listened to, was a clear mandate to grocers to take a good, hard look at opportunities in the retail health care market..
"Our survey suggests to us that we are near a tipping point of consumer acceptance, one that will open great opportunities and enable far-reaching change in health care," write Oliver Wyman's Graegar Smith and Chris Bernene in an April 2014 study, "Are Consumers Ready for Retail Health Care?"
Trust, as can be expected, is a must-have for consumers considering new health care options, and many retailers have partnered with local hospitals to add credibility to their programs. Just a few days ago, Walmart announced a partnership with Directhealth.com, which will provide agents trained to help consumers navigate the Affordable Care Act to half of the retailer's 4,300 retail clinics.
Some experts will go as far as to state that retailers have the potential to revolutionize the current health care model, offering services far beyond flu shots. Grocers can create a holistic health and wellness experience for consumers by integrating nutrition, pharmacy, education via registered dietitians and health care services.
More than a "one-stop shop" strategy, this holistic approach leverages a grocer's existing strengths in nutrition and pharmacy with health care services consumers need. The ability to help a patient with a chronic disease, like diabetes, marries education about diet and preventive care with health care services and supplies to treat the condition.
With consumers managing their health care spend more than ever before, the key will be for new players to target the elusive sweet spot where convenience, trust, quality and cost savings converge.