Can you feel that?
It’s the seismic shift that currently is occurring in health care in this country. And really, it’s just a tremor. The intense stuff isn’t expected to hit until 2014.
That’s why we’re creating “Patient Views” (see page 6), a new department that will be featured Upfront in every issue of DSN and in every edition of our daily e-newsletter, DSN A.M.
But let me back up here. Let’s look at health reform for a second, and for once let’s not only focus on the 32 million Americans that will be formally introduced to the healthcare system. It also is projected that millions of Americans, who today have perfectly good insurance, will likely be dumped into the exchanges as well, as many employers do the math and figure it’s cheaper to cut benefits and just pay the penalty.
Beyond that, it also is expected that new plan designs will put increasingly more of the onus on the patient to think more like a consumer — to seek the least expensive options for care, or shoulder the extra cost themselves. This will create opportunities for nontraditional competitors to step in to create new, lower-cost alternatives, the likes of which we already have begun to see with retail clinics, expanded pharmacy services, urgent care and more.
In this environment, all providers are going to be measured and compensated by the quality of the care that they deliver. All of health care will become an outcomes-based business. It’s also going to set off a whole new wave of competition for the patient — and really a whole new dimension by which to compete.
This will create new opportunities for unique partnerships; the accountable care organization model will create teams of providers working in conjunction to improve patient outcomes. But there also will be competition to become a part of an ACO. Networks will continue to narrow. Is your company in or out?
For all of the opportunity that will be created for retail pharmacy and retail clinics, there is no denying that this business will become more complex than it has ever been.
That’s why we’re doing Patient Views. To thrive in this brave new age of “healthcare retailization,” you’re going to need to be able to see around corners. You need better information — as up-to-the-minute as you can get it — about what patients are thinking and how that impacts the way they utilize health care, and inevitably how they shop your stores, if they shop your stores and where your brands fit into their lives.
That’s why we have partnered with AccentHealth, whose extensive reach into physicians’ offices all across the country has created a panel of thousands of patients (see Q&A here). We can ask them anything we want. Patient Views is how you’re going to keep up with it all.
What do you want to know? If you could ask thousands of patients anything at all to help you see around the corners into the future of health care, what would you ask them? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know.
Rob Eder is the editor in chief of The Drug Store News Group, publishers of Drug Store News, DSN Collaborative Care, and Specialty Pharmacy magazines. You can contact him at email@example.com.