Deductibles Help Retailers Compete with Primary Care Doctors
Data! Data! How
dangerous it is to reason with insufficient data.
have a turn both for observation and for deduction. The theories which I have
expressed there, and which appear to you to be so chimerical are really
extremely practical—so practical that I depend upon them for my bread and
It’s elementary, My Dear Watson!
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, MD (1859-1930), creator of Sherlock Holmes
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was a physician. He created Sherlock Holmes, the master of
observation, reasoning, and logical deductions, and his sidekick, Dr. John Watson. If Doctor Doyle were alive today, he might well accept the logic that retailers will be formidable competitors of primary care physicians.
I have just finished reading John Commins two part series in
Health Leaders Media: One, “Retail Medicine Syncs with High Deductible Health
Plans" (February25) ; and Two, "Behind Retailers Health Care Strategy"( February
Both pieces feature an interview with
Vaughn Kauffman and Ceci Connolly of PriceWaterHouseCoopers’ Health Advisory
Service on how retail services plan to carve out larger roles for themselves
from traditional primary care doctors.
What retailers have to say and what they plan to do, I think Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his
fictional characters would agree is logical .
One, high deductibles, in essence, switch risk to health consumers for routine health problems
and certain routine treatments for chronic disease.
Two, high deductibles make competitive prices important for consumers, and prices for retailers tend
to be lower than prices found in primary care settings.
deductibles make price transparency important, and health consumes want to know
in advance what they are paying for.
deductibles make convenience in shopping more important.
Five , high deductibles
renders important familiarity with the
provider, be it a primary care physician, a nurse practitioner, a physician
assistant, or a store where one shops and for whom one has established brand name
Six , high
deductibles gives chain grocers, big pharmas,
and big box retail story advantages with their marketing strategies, data, and the ability to
reach thousands of customers at the click of a mouse.
Seven , high
deductibles have one great failing – they lack the expertise, equipment, and knowledge needed to deal with
serious disease and catastrophic care.
Look at it this way.
The average consumer may visit a
retail outlet (national pharmacy chain, grocer, or big box
retailer) 60 or 70 times a year, a pharmacist 30 times, and a primary care
doctor 3 times. Familiarity breeds
comfort and convenience, and higher volumes breed lower prices. These are
formidable advantages in a consumer-driven stagnant economy in which consumers have
little time and little cash to spare.
What can primary care doctors do to combat these
One, they can hook up with
retail outlets as back-ups for problems requiring greater knowledge.
Two, they can offer high level services in
concierge-type or direct cash practices with a higher level of personal
Three, they can consolidate services
with hospitals and other physicians with one-stop shopping for medical
health services are here to stay.
Deductibles up retailer appeal right away.
is they can’t deal with catastrophe,
don’t have sufficient mentality.
problems answers aren’t in big boxes,
Real solutions reside in minds of real docs.
using knowledge and data on consumers, are carving out health care services to
compete with primary care physicians.
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