One-stop shop for college
Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at the NPD Group said that back-to-college has become a big opportunity for retailers, and everybody wants part of the business. Last year, families spent an average of $800 on back-to-college products.
Once students get to school, they have less time and fewer opportunities to shop, so drug stores become their one-stop destination. “Drug stores can really capitalize on their convenience advantage with this demographic,” James said. “They can become as much of a solution store as possible, offering everything from electronic accessories and dorm decor to personal care products and grocery items. If these shoppers are already in the store and the products are merchandised well, they’ll buy,” he said.
For stores in close proximity to campus, a good selection of electronic accessories is key. Smartphone accessories, headphones, and computer and printer accessories are as important as paper, pens and pencils. Some chains also layer in promotional lamps, pillows and throw rugs, as well as space-savers and closet organizers.
Occupy health care
I am the 99%. And thank God for that. But it’s not what you think. This isn’t about radical politics and class warfare. I’m not looking to tax the 1%. I just want them to take better care of themselves. And I’m definitely not the only one. More and more, payers, insurers and big government are all looking at ways to get this group to live a little healthier.
According to research from the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, approximately 1% of patients generate more than 25% of all healthcare spending, with annual medical bills averaging about $100,000 a year.
And that’s just the sickest of them. In all, more than 7-of-10 privately insured individuals under the age of 65 years suffer from one or more chronic conditions. And as this group gets older and swells the ranks of Medicare in the years to come, the generations behind them are on track to set all new highs in chronic disease and healthcare spending. By 2030, it’s expected that half of America will be clinically obese and roughly 75 million people will have diabetes.
As the clock ticks away on a Supreme Court decision on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, it is becoming increasingly clear that whatever becomes of healthcare reform — whether you call it ObamaCare, RomneyCare or the Man-in-the-MoonCare — you can’t put the genie back in the bottle. There is growing acceptance that our current healthcare system is unsustainable. We save more by investing in keeping people healthy than we do by only paying when they get sick. We save more when people have insurance and access to appropriate sites of care than we do by ignoring them and allowing them to turn up in the ER. And if you make insurance companies accept all patients regardless of pre-existing conditions, it creates an incentive for insurance companies to manage that patient’s health more effectively — the only upside is in delivering better health outcomes.
For a long time this was the vision for the future of health care. But there is growing evidence that the future is here.
For instance, take a look at the work retail clinics like MinuteClinic and Take Care are doing with Medicare. One aspect of the Affordable Care Act that has been in effect for about a year now, is the provision that allows seniors enrolled in Medicare Part B and Medicare Advantage plans a free annual preventive wellness visit. However, in the first year of the program, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, only about 6% of eligible seniors took advantage. The problem so far has been a combination of poor access and low awareness, two areas where the clinics can help. But the longer these programs continue, the more CMS and other payers will see other benefits of using retail clinics and the practitioners in them to their fullest potential — for about one-third the cost of a typical physician visit, you can help keep a chronically ill patient from falling into the ranks of the 1%. Because by then it costs 10 times as much to care for them.
Industry use of social media ‘miniscule’
Social media opens many new opportunities for healthcare organizations to engage consumers and is changing the nature of healthcare interaction, according to a new report by PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Health Research Institute.
The report, “Social media likes health care: From marketing to social business,” called social media activity by hospitals, health insurers and drug companies “minuscule,” and found that while 8-in-10 healthcare companies had a social media presence, health-related community sites had 24 times more social media activity than corporate sites.
“Health organizations have an opportunity to use social media as a way to better listen, participate in discussions and engage with consumers in ways that extend their interaction beyond a clinical encounter,” PwC U.S. health industries leader Kelly Barnes said. “Savvy adopters are viewing social media as a business strategy, not just a marketing tool.”
In addition, the study found that one-third of consumers use social media sites for seeking medical information, tracking and sharing symptoms, and sharing their thoughts about doctors, treatments and health plans. Meanwhile, between 20% and 40% had used social media to find health-related consumer reviews and information about other patients’ experiences, or had posted information about their experiences or joined a health forum or community. Thirty-four percent said information found on social media would affect their decision about taking a certain medication, and 32% said it would affect their choice of a health insurance plan.