Could Apple Store-like digital health retail stores be popular?
As I travel the country speaking at conferences, I’ve had dozens of conversations with smart people who believe there’s a growing consensus that “patient-driven” (or consumer-driven or member-driven) healthcare spending has arrived. Consumer-driven insurance exchanges, high deductible insurance plans and copays are creating more patient payment responsibilities than ever before. So, if patient-driven healthcare spending has arrived does that mean we’re ready for digital health or healthcare insurance retail stores?
Here’s why I think the time is right. Rumor has it that CVS, Walgreens, Kroger, and many other pharmacies carrying digital health and wearables product draw in-store customers. If that’s the case, could we drive more sales of telemedicine, remote monitoring, chronic care apps, and other digital health products by creating specialty stores in which we had trained sales people that knew how to combine products, services, and solutions from a variety of companies and educate consumers, caregivers, and patients about their use? What if some smart pharmacies, smart health insurers, and smart health systems got together and put together healthcare management retail stores in malls, similar to an Apple Store or a Microsoft Store?
In a fees for services (volume-driven) world, selling healthcare products and services to individual institutions is certainly time-consuming but reasonably straightforward. In an outcomes-driven (fees for value) world driven by shared risks and shared rewards, selling healthcare solutions across multiple disciplines, multiple stakeholders, and multiple institutions is much harder and even more time-consuming. That’s because there’s no easy buyer to identify. Population health is all the rage but our current 3+ trillion dollar healthcare industry was never devised nor incentivized to work together as a team for long-term patient or population benefits (it’s reimbursed mainly for episodic care).
Our country’s healthcare industry is more about sick care and episodic transactions rather than longitudinal care. But, since we are moving to population and outcomes driven care where the patient is more responsible for their own care management and payment, it would seem patient education and digital health tools are more important than ever. So, perhaps we need to get together and innovate around how we’re going to present next-generation solutions from across multiple innovators and showcase them to patients and their caregivers.
Using the Apple Store as a model, let’s imagine a Digital Health Store where we can have computers, wearables, tablets, phones, medical devices, remote monitoring, care quality, and other cool devices sitting in one place where shoppers can see how things work together and sales people are trained to talk about chronic care. Even Amazon, who basically killed the large bookstore retail model, is giving retail book stores a shot.
If the Digital Health retail store idea is reasonable, we could even think about allowing people to shop for insurance — on existing insurance exchanges — through a guided expert in store. There are tons of way of monetizing these stores.
What do you think? Would you shop at a Digital Health retail store?
Shahid N. Shah
Shahid Shah is an internationally recognized enterprise software guru that specializes in digital health with an emphasis on e-health, EHR/EMR, big data, iOT, data interoperability, med device connectivity, and bioinformatics.