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Retail Medicine a Big Shift for 2014

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, January 6, 2014

"This is going to be the difficult challenging transition period for everybody involved, for consumers, insurance companies, providers, all of us," Connolly says. "The mile marker I sometimes look to when is we moved from pensions to 401(k)s and that was about a decade until we had the vast majority of Americans in 401(k)s. We are already a year or two into this shift and things today happen a little faster but it's hard to say."

So what are traditional healthcare providers supposed to do in the next few years to weather the transition?

"We often advise the smaller- to medium-sized systems in particular to look for the smart partnerships and relationships and alliances," Connolly says.

"Can you affiliate with a larger entity that takes some of your more complex cases or that maybe has capital available to help you invest? Maybe you partner with a retail entity in your region and you share in the most basic care. It's really starting to head in that direction with population health, thinking about value and looking honestly outside of your own four walls for the smart partnerships."

Connolly recalls meeting with a group of primary care physicians recently who expressed unease about their role in the changing healthcare delivery landscape.

"I said to them, we want to be heading into a world where you are doing fewer procedures over and over again, but there is going to be a care team in the community and you are going to be the ones to direct the other players. That is where more physicians need to orient themselves in the future. They'll no longer do every single procedure. Patients are going to do a lot of it in their own homes but they will still look to the doctor as a trusted advisor."


John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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3 comments on "Retail Medicine a Big Shift for 2014"


Davis Liu, MD (1/10/2014 at 10:15 AM)
No question that health care is shifting this way. Highly likely that patients will also suffer in the process despite the theory of consumerism is good. As Ceci Connolly noted correctly - "The mile marker I sometimes look to when is we moved from pensions to 401(k)s and that was about a decade until we had the vast majority of Americans in 401(k)s." The challenge is that it benefited employers and left employees with little. As noted in a Wall Street Journal article - The median household headed by a person aged 60 to 62 with a 401(k) account has less than one-quarter of what is needed in that account to maintain its standard of living in retirement, according to data compiled by the Federal Reserve and analyzed by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College for The Wall Street Journal. Even counting Social Security and any pensions or other savings, most 401(k) participants appear to have insufficient savings. Data from other sources also show big gaps between savings and what people need, and the financial crisis has made things worse. The retail shift will occur in health care. There will be many who suffer. Unlike delaying retirement, one can't delay a medical problem. http://thehealthcareblog.com/blog/2011/03/07/why-consumer-driven-health-care-will-fail/ http://www.davisliumd.com/the-problem-with-health-insurance-exchanges-the-risk-for-patients-pension-plan-to-401k-analogy/

Mike Sinsheimer (1/9/2014 at 3:41 PM)
The continued move to consumerism will be interesting to gauge. As more and more consumers evaluate cost, the question is will they put off treatment or visits and if they do, how will that impact community health? Time will tell.

Patients Will Pay (1/9/2014 at 2:14 AM)
Sadly the assumption that shifting costs to patients will result in better outcomes has been shown to be flawed. What happens is simply that people put off care based on cost not outcomes and people with the highest deductible plans are also those least likely to be able to pay for their care. For a great example of how this plays out look at dental health - most people without adequate coverage simply put off preventive care and end up with even higher costs for crowns and root canals