Moving beyond sick care — just do it!


One thing that was pretty clear in the research we conducted for the 2011 Retail Clinician Reader Survey is that an increasing number of retail-based health practitioners want the clinics they work for to expand the scope of services beyond acute care. Many readers said the one thing that would make them even more satisfied about the work they do is “moving beyond sick care,” as one reader noted, to more preventive/wellness-oriented services, including chronic disease management programs for diabetes, hypertension and more. One reader even suggested the addition of “on-site X-rays.”


What makes these results more significant is that this data was not derived from multiple-choice questions — these were verbatim responses, the actual words used by our readers.


While retail health care may not be ready for in-store X-ray labs just yet, many retail clinic operators already have begun to move toward expanded services, including smoking-cessation, weight-loss and even fitness programs.


Fitness and nutrition have been core parts of employer-based wellness programs — including the ones Take Care Health Systems operates for such employers as Harrah’s Casinos — even before the news broke in July that Take Care had acquired an ownership position in Core Performance, a company that creates fitness programs.


But now Walgreens/Take Care has the opportunity to look for creative new ways to bring new wellness programs to its stores through its retail clinics, perhaps even as part of a larger weight-loss management program — not unlike Weigh Forward, the new program RediClinic announced in April in conjunction with H-E-B stores. For its part, Lindora, which operates seven clinics in West Coast Rite Aid stores, began as a weight-loss clinic first and evolved into acute care later.


But beyond just improving health outcomes, this also is an opportunity for community pharmacy and retail clinics to build new relationships with customers and patients that keep them coming back, even when they are not necessarily sick. It could help expand the paradigm from sick care to well care and help build community.


What could that mean? For instance, Nike stores, such as the one in Boston, host “running clubs” that keep people connected to the store. It’s not just a place to buy sneakers; the store is a part of their lives.


These kinds of programs don’t just drive customer loyalty; they also make customers rabid fans of your brand. Just think about Nike. People pay big money for Nike apparel just for the chance to be a human billboard to advertise their love of the brand.


So, a fitness club in a drug store or a retail clinic? In the immortal words of Nike, Drug Store News says: “Just do it.”


Want a copy of the 2011 Retail Clinician Reader Survey? Email me at reder@lf.com.

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