Posted on May 7, 2013
Mike Milligan, President
Did you see the results of a recent poll about retail health
clinics? Twenty-seven percent of adults surveyed said they
used walk-in medical clinics located in pharmacies,
superstores and workplaces within the past two years. That's up
from just 7 percent in 2008.
Convenience and cost are driving consumers to big box stores for
everything from hairspray to healthcare. That's not going to
Yet many hospitals will choose to buck the retail trend, hoping
it will go away. The smart ones will choose to benefit from this
"shop-'n-go-to-the-doc" mindset by building partnerships with
retail health clinics. Here's why:
Retail clinics offer vaccinations, basic lab work and treatment
for minor ailments. But many patients will need more advanced care.
When they do, the docs at the clinic can point them in your
direction - if you've established a relationship with them.
On the flip side, all hospitals, especially CAHs, are facing a
shortage of primary care providers. Retail health clinics can help
your healthcare organization fill a vital role in patient care.
That's going to become increasingly important as accessibility and
affordability take center stage as more than 30 million Americans
gain health insurance next year.
Another way to leverage the growing retail
health trend is to set up your own clinic-Oh yes, you can! I'll
discuss that in my upcoming blog.
I'm currently at the NRHA conference in Louisville, so if you're
also in attendance stop by booth 203 and introduce yourself! I'd be
happy to talk more about retail health for rural hospitals or any
of the other topics I've written about recently.
Posted on May 16, 2013
Buying a bottle of aspirin from a big box store is one thing.
But swinging by for a quick diagnosis and a gallon of milk … Does
that seem foreign to you? Not to me - or over 25% of
consumers for that matter.
As I mentioned in my previous blog, retail health clinics are
growing in popularity. That spells OPPORTUNITY for your critical
access hospital (CAH).
The fact is, healthcare is moving to a model where more care
will be delivered in an outpatient setting vs. inpatient setting.
That means a retail clinic can give your rural hospital the
opportunity to break into the outpatient market.
I'll summarize in two words: "Access" and "Affordability." (And
we all know where national healthcare stands on those two
Your retail health clinic can give patients another way to
access you. It can let them get a feel for your services, which can
ultimately influence them to choose your organization for their
healthcare. Retail health also provides a way to manage healthcare
costs by encouraging patients to use the most appropriate avenue of
Establishing a retail health clinic isn't just blue-sky thinking
for rural hospitals. It's tried and true positioning for continued
I've already worked with progressive-minded CAHs to help them
make initial operational decisions. From there, we've collaborated
on everything from site location and equipment purchases to
financial management. Not to mention developing and implementing a
targeted marketing strategy.
There's no denying it. Retail health is here to stay.
What say you? Are you all out - or all in for the win?
Posted on May 29, 2013
It's probably a no brainer to you that over half of adults who
own cell phones have smart phones. But did you know that Strategy
Analytics predicts that the next billion smart phones are expected
to be in use by 2015?
These additional smart phone users are the reason your hospital
or clinic should seriously consider creating a mobile app. Because
apps can put your brand at patients' fingertips on a daily basis
and allow information to be accessed on a device most people check
Plus, for a rural healthcare organization, having a mobile app
will help people see you as innovative and high-tech-things
patients often associate with high-quality care.
Creating a custom mobile app may sound complicated and
expensive, but it doesn't have to be. Decide on three to five key
items to highlight and you've already got the framework
Here are three types of apps that could benefit your current and
1. General Hospital/Clinic Information App
With this app, your goal is to provide basic, yet useful and
important information to current and prospective patients. Things
- Location and contact information: Give people the
ability to type in their address and get directions or click on a
number to call.
- Cafeteria menu: If your hospital is known for good
food, post your menu daily or weekly to encourage non-patients to
stop in for a healthy lunch.
- Upcoming events: If you host regular classes,
seminars and community education events, create a function that
reminds people of upcoming events and provides an easy way for them
to register to attend.
- Highlight your newborn nursery: Who doesn't love
2. Patient Portal App
Many clinics and hospitals already use online patient portals
where people can schedule appointments, receive reminders and
notifications and pay their bills. So why not make it even easier
for patients to interact with you by making this portal a mobile
app? Key features to highlight:
- Schedule an appointment: Patients who set up an
account through the app would be able to schedule appointments with
- Notifications and reminders: Patients can receive
appointment reminders and notifications about prescriptions and
test results through the app instead of by email or phone
- Prescription Management: Patients can request
refills from their physicians, look up dosage information for new
or temporary prescriptions and find out what foods, beverages and
other medications to avoid while on their prescriptions.
- Bill Pay: Allowing patients to access bill pay
through a mobile app makes it easy for them to look up statements
and pay bills whenever or wherever they want.
3. Disorder/Condition Specific Apps
This type of app can help patients manage and go through
specific conditions whether it's cancer, serious sports injuries or
a chronic condition like diabetes. To pick the topics for these
apps, look at what health conditions affect your community the
most. This app could include:
- Food logs for those who want to manage obesity.
- Recipes for heart healthy and diabetes friendly meals.
- Foods to avoid for those recently diagnosed with heart disease
- Latest information on treatments and procedures.
- Support groups where people with similar conditions can connect
with each other.
- Information about the physician or specialist at your hospital
that patients can contact for appointments or questions.