Retail health clinics are on the rise, with more and more healthcare consumers seeking non-traditional care delivery services. Big-box retailers, ranging from Walmart and Target to CVS and Walgreens, are steadily opening health clinics to increase access to care.
In fact, currently, there are more than 2,000 retail health clinics operating in the U.S., with more opening each day. That’s why it’s essential for healthcare practices to find ways to differentiate themselves and maintain a competitive edge that sets them apart from the retail giants.
Keep reading to learn why consumers are choosing retail health clinics, plus four ways your healthcare practice can compete.
Why Healthcare Consumers Choose Retail Health Clinics
Wondering why there has been such an upsurge in competition from retail health clinics in recent years? Patients today seek out alternative care settings for many reasons.
Most retail health clinics have extended hours to accommodate patients on different schedules. Some are even walk-in clinics that see patients on an as-needed basis, making it extremely convenient for consumers. Typically, patients can also self-schedule appointments at their own convenience.
Cost of Care
Retail health clinics are typically more cost-effective because they tend to focus on treating low-acuity, non-urgent conditions rather than chronic illnesses. As such, modern healthcare consumers often choose retail health clinics over traditional healthcare practices due to lower prices and cost transparency.
For some patients—especially those in rural, often underserved communities—access to a care provider is a significant problem. Newly emerging retail health clinics improve care access for patients who are located far away from the nearest healthcare provider’s office.
How Your Practice Can Compete with Retail Health Clinics
The struggle to remain competitive in a crowded, ever-evolving industry is all too real for healthcare practices—but you can compete with retail clinics effectively with the right approach and the right technology.
1. Offer the conveniences modern consumers want.
Patients today have different expectations than they once did. They want and expect the seamless, personalized experiences they’ve grown accustomed to thanks to online shopping, banking, and other modern conveniences.
Your practice can appeal to consumers and give them what they’re looking for by offering access to a patient portal with robust self-service tools for patients to use at their own convenience. For example, online appointment scheduling, automated reminders, access to post-visit summaries and lab results, and the ability to make refill requests are all features that appeal to healthcare patients.
Think of it this way: Your digital capabilities need to be as customer-centric as your care in order to retain existing patients and win over new patients rather than losing them to your retail competitors.
2. Build stronger patient-provider relationships.
One of the biggest advantages healthcare practices have over retail health clinics is the ability to build strong patient-provider relationships. Strong relationships with patients help to form bonds that build trust, increase loyalty, and keep them coming back.
Your providers can start building strong patient relationships by:
- Offering secure, two-way messaging
- Engaging patients in shared decision-making regarding their care
- Staying in touch between visits to your practice
3. Digitize patient registration and intake processes.
Patient registration and intake can be time-consuming and error-prone when done the old-fashioned way. Because long wait times are a common pain point among healthcare consumers, automating your registration and intake workflows can reduce waiting room backlogs and create a more streamlined care experience for your patients—not to mention simplifying operations for your front office staff.
4. Be transparent and flexible about the cost of care.
The cost of care has been on the rise for years now, as patients are painfully aware. Now, healthcare consumers are looking for cost transparency from their providers—especially with most retail health clinics sharing their pricing upfront, which is often not the case with traditional healthcare practices.
In addition to being as transparent as possible about your pricing, consider offering flexible financial options, such as short- and long-term payment plans to help your patients with their out-of-pocket responsibilities.
Differentiate Your Practice to Succeed
These are just a few of the ways your practice can compete with retail health clinics. By giving healthcare consumers what they’re looking for in a digital experience, nurturing strong patient-provider relationships, automating manual processes, and being transparent and flexible about the cost of care, you can differentiate yourself from your retail counterparts, attracting and retaining patients in the process.