PwC points health prospectors to retailers

NEW YORK — The booming healthcare market, which is expected to reach 19.6% of gross domestic product by 2019, is driving a surge of activity from companies looking to develop new products and services to bolster profits and create more convenient patient care, according to a new report by PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Health Research Institute. 

“We really look at these prospectors as potentially very positive,” Ben Isgur, a director with PwC’s Health Research Institute, told Drug Store News. “This could be a way to make our system more efficient and cost-effective, and that is the injection of the private sector into the healthcare system.” 

Within the recently published report, “The New Gold Rush,” PwC Health Research Institute identified four main roles in which health prospectors — which are companies or individuals looking to profit in the health market — can likely come into the marketplace and flourish: fixers, implementers, connectors and retailers. It is the latter that especially caught the eye of DSN. 

Isgur explained that access is a big issue right now and that the implementation of healthcare reform is going to make access even tougher. Pharmacy retailers are ideally positioned to tackle the issue, as they not only have the footprint to provide customers greater access and deep customer relationships, but also understand supply chain and can help curb costs.

PwC highlighted Walgreens and its Take Care Health Systems business as just one example of a retailer moving beyond retail to the mass delivery of health services. PwC noted that Walgreens is expanding its clinics’ services to include more preventive services, such as health risk assessments and physicals. PwC also mentioned that Walgreens, through its Take Care business, is expanding its worksite clinics and pharmacy services. “With these changes, Walgreens is looking more and more like a healthcare provider. So, will other providers see Walgreens as a competitor? Or [as] a partner?” the PwC report asked. 

In response, Peter Hotz, group VP Walgreens health and wellness, said in a report, “A few years ago, hospitals didn’t even want to be in a conversation with us regarding our retail clinics. Now we’re meeting with them two or three times per week.”

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