With all the national attention around healthcare, have you ever wondered what the experts do when they need healthcare? Well wonder no more: they go to the MinuteClinic at their local drugstore.
I recently attended a health conference comprised of representatives from the health insurance industry, large employers, health technology providers, and medical professionals themselves. Over a two-day period, the group discussed the upcoming changes in the industry as a result of the Affordable Care Act (“ACA” or “Obamacare”). From employer compliance and health exchanges to participant engagement and accountable care organizations, it is undeniable that change is upon us.
And yet, when the topic of how these people – people whose livelihood represents nearly every aspect of healthcare – obtain routine medical services for their family, the overwhelming response surprised me.
What these health insiders know is that most sneezes and sniffles, routine shots, and periodic scrapes require not a visit to a doctor’s waiting room, or worse, an emergency room, but rather a MinuteClinic, the medical community’s version of a drive thru. You see, these people know that a doctor’s visit costs the system $120 (split between employer and employee), buys four minutes of a doctor’s time, results in unnecessary paperwork and administrative overhead and, by and large, is simply overpriced and chronically inconvenient.
So instead they shop health by retail. With dozens of posted pricings for routine health services and Monday through Sunday walk-ins well into the evenings, these folks can now get their summer camp physical or flu shot on their way to pick up groceries.
Surely the local drug store will not replace the regional trauma center, yet for most of our lives, our experience with health will take the form of routine maintenance, not unlike Jiffy-Lube. 95 percent of the time, our experience will comprise of well known and well understood conditions. And in these instances, the laws of economics will prevail: convenience and standardization will triumph when customer choice is inserted and ultimately, we will see more MintueClinics providing a better health care experience at lower cost. The rational is sound and anyone making health programs decisions for companies should keep this example in mind when communicating the changing landscape of healthcare.