As the healthcare industry continues to embrace a digital-first approach, we are seeing expanded opportunities at the intersection of retail and healthcare to adopt technologies, creating better experiences and efficiencies in how care is delivered to patients.
Large-scale retailers have clearly identified an opportunity where they can transform to add new lines of business that include healthcare and wellness. Walmart, CVS, and other retailers know with absolute certainty that they can establish more equitable and accessible care than some healthcare companies. Many have storefronts serving communities outside of metropolitan areas, closer to suburbs and rural areas. These large retailers already have built-in scale, so leveraging years of experience to scale outwards is something they know how to do better than many traditional healthcare delivery systems.
A one-stop shop: changing the patient experience
There is something powerful about having a one-stop shop for most of your needs. As a consumer, it is extremely convenient to make one trip! If you look at what Walmart is doing right now and think through what a five-year strategy plan could look like, this could be one of the biggest transformations in healthcare. Walmart has been on a path of building and operationalizing various in-store clinics over the past few years. With more than 200 million weekly customers visiting their stores for basic needs, Walmart’s built-in scale allows them to drive new levels of engagement and to provide patients with additional options compared to traditional primary care.
A scenario of future patient care
To illustrate what a future consumer journey could look like, imagine you’re already at one of these big box retailers for your daily needs but have been feeling ill. For the sake of convenience, you walk into one of their on-site clinics. You are greeted by a clinical coordinator for the intake process that is fully digitized on a tablet or kiosk, and then shortly after that you meet the primary care physician for your consultation. Assuming the store offers a full suite of clinical services (e.g., a lab, urgent care, diagnostics, and imaging), you do your lab work and discover you are pre-diabetic. The physician tells you that this is manageable if you make the proper lifestyle changes: diet, exercise, stress management, and more. You’re then offered the opportunity to opt in to a simple 90-day remote patient monitoring (RPM) service. The RPM kit provided includes a Bluetooth glucometer, bathroom scale, and a personalized digital diabetes app that is certified to work with those peripherals. The modern app allows you to self-report your vitals, such as HbA1c values and weight. It also allows you to take patient surveys, schedule virtual visits, and receive behavioral health coaching, dietary education, and exercise recommendations. It’s a truly patient-centric curated program.
A digital-first approach in clinical retail
A few years ago, this scenario would have been seen as very futuristic. But the ability to leverage a digital-first approach with various technologies has accelerated this concept to make it real today.
Because quite a lot has shifted since 2020, the decentralized enterprise has allowed remote sites and staff to manage care just as efficiently as in traditional hospitals and clinics. For VMware customers, this is primarily possible by utilizing VMware Horizon to virtualize the desktop environments and allow care teams to securely encapsulate clinical workflows from anywhere they may be: home, remote clinic, retail clinic, and other locations.
Over the past 10 years there has been an influx of new talent from e-commerce and financial services, who have brought their consumer experience as they joined the ranks of healthcare experts to solve new problems. Today’s healthcare CIOs and their IT departments embrace new cloud-smart strategies that include APIs to interoperate with existing systems, containers to simplify DevOps, and micro-segmentation to secure their data centers and protected health information. These modern tech-based strategies, when executed for clinical retail, can drive the right quality of care, savings, and experiences for patients.
The new dataset in clinical retail
One of the biggest outcomes of this will be what the digital-first approach bears. As these retailers continue to build onto their digital platforms, we are going to see new datasets emerge that may become the crown jewels of social determinants of health (SDOH). To add to this, as clinical retailers incorporate new models of care to manage chronic conditions, the real-time aggregation of clinical, claims, consumer trends, and retail data will produce new insights for future lines of businesses in healthcare and life sciences. New service lines around clinical trials and digital therapeutics would make a lot of sense as the next logical path.
Embracing the future of retail and healthcare
There’s great potential for what clinical retail can do, and all the value it can bring to patients. Retailers can take lessons learned from the consumer experience and use those to improve the patient experience. As retailers move forward, they should look at these lines of business not as retail transactions, but rather as a long-term relationship with patients who are also consumers.
If you are interested in learning more about how VMware can support your technical teams in clinical retail or empower a digital-first approach to healthcare with solutions like Horizon Multi-Cloud Solutions for Healthcare, please reach out to us. And if you’re at Explore 2022 Europe in Barcelona, Spain, from November 4–7, join me and guest speakers from the healthcare industry in our Healthcare Workshop. We would love to have a conversation with you. Or email me: email@example.com.