How Can Twizzlers Innovate Healthcare Consumerism In Your Health System?

I try to avoid thinking too hard about problems.  I have found that not thinking, when done properly, creates a pleasant numbing sensation in the brain.  There are those who will tell you that not thinking is one of my best attributes.

So this is how I’ve organized this anthill.

A healthcare provider’s opportunity to succeed at consumerism is approaching the eleventh hour.  The bad thing about the eleventh hour is that you never know when it is a quarter to, you only know when it’s five after, and counting.  Regarding healthcare consumerism, could a bag of red Twizzlers the biggest material difference between your consumerism efforts failing and succeeding at your health system?

Are you out of your mind Paul?

When I evaluate the CVS healthcare retail healthcare model as represented by the Minute Clinic three things stand out:

  • CVS has customers (prospective patients), not patients
  • Their customers do not have appointments, they simply show up
  • Their customers become patients, are evaluated, and receive care

Healthcare provider executives are asking, “How can we imitate the CVS consumerism model?”  My response to them is, “You already are, you just aren’t doing it very well.”

Hospitals imitate the CVS retail healthcare model 365 days a year, twenty-four hours a day.  It is called the Emergency Department.

  • Customers and patients come in
  • Neither the customers or the patients have appointments, they simply show up
  • The customers become patients, are evaluated, and receive care

The health system emergency department has evolved into a dual-care model; emergency medicine and retail medicine.  The evolution has resulted in more and more customers using the ED like a Minute Clinic.

The evolution to a dual-care system has placed tremendous burdens on emergency care.  That evolution accounts for why many emergency departments are constantly reengineering themselves, posting wait times, and spending a fortune implementing six-sigma projects.  And to what end?  The more efficient your ED becomes, the more retail customers flock to it.

You and I know there is no point asking me to reengineer your ED.  At least that is what I thought before I started writing this piece.  But the more I thought about it the more it occurred to me that I could make a suggestion that would benefit the ED, benefit the real ED patients, benefit your customers—people who don’t have an emergency who just want to be seen by a medical professional, and the people in your health system who are tasked with acquiring new patients—marketing.  I am correct, your time reading this will have been well spent.  If I am wrong, I am sure I will hear from you.

Every provider already has a steady stream of non-ED patients who only require the level of treatment provided by a Minute Clinic.  Wouldn’t it make sense for providers to set aside a few hundred square feet of space and direct those customers who don’t require emergency care to another area so they can be seen by a clinician?  Wouldn’t that enable the ED to be more effective?  And if it was determined that the clinic patients needed urgent care services, you have a doozey right around the corner.

And what about all of your other facilities?  Could some of them adapt to this model?  Probably.

The ED of one of my clients was seeing around a hundred asthmatic patients every day.  The vast majority of those patients did not need emergency care.  Some needed refills, some needed instruction on how to use a nebulizer.  We recommended they set up an asthma clinic right next to the ED.  And it worked.

What are the benefits of co-locating a Minute Clinic concept next to the ED?

  • It frees up the ED for those who require emergency care
  • It converts clinic customers into new patients in your health system
  • And it does so at a very low Customer Exertion Score:
    • Customers do not have to wait until their PCP can see them
    • Customers do not have to call
    • Customers do not have to make an appointment
    • Customers have immediate access to care
    • Customers pay only a copay, not ED rates

It makes sense to me.  But then again it should since it’s my idea.  Decide amongst yourselves if this idea is worth exploring—if the decision is close, you may wish to reach a conclusion based on style points.  Maybe that deafening noise I am hearing is the sound of all of the pieces falling into place.  And if you want to give your clinic more of a CVS feeling, consider adding a candy aisle.

For those who may be wondering how to talk for ten minutes without using a word that contains the letter ‘A’, just start counting…one, two, three.

One thought on “How Can Twizzlers Innovate Healthcare Consumerism In Your Health System?

  1. Think about this. The hospital system that I am employed by (and sometimes actually do work for :)) has 5 ED’s scattered over a wide market area. BUT they only have one 24×7 Urgent Care Clinic in an area on the far edge of the market area (actually, well inside a competitors market area). Why in the world they don’t open more urgent care clinic’s inside of the market area, perhaps as adjuncts to the ED’s, I will probably never know. When my late wife was a patient at one of our Hospital’s she had to be transferred to a competitors urgent care clinic for a procedure “that we don’t do here on the weekend”. Go figure. I sincerely hope that I never need urgent care by my employer, because I am not sure that they know the meaning of ‘urgent’. The only word they understand is “inpatient”, as in “this inpatient needs to be discharged today to make room for another inpatient”.


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