The retailization of healthcare has been a hot topic recently in healthcare and real estate industry circles alike. But what does this term really mean? From a healthcare perspective, it describes the evolution of the delivery of healthcare from a physician-centric model to a more consumer friendly, patient-centric model – much the way retail goods and services have long been delivered to customers. This means providing healthcare services in a much more accessible, convenient and patient-friendly manner than in the past. Most people have experienced the traditional model of receiving healthcare where you would travel a long distance to a sterile hospital campus to visit your primary care physician, often having difficulty finding a parking space due to the fact that all of the closest spaces were “Reserved for Physicians.” The walk to your physician’s office might take you past the emergency room or a pediatric cancer center that would only add to your already uncomfortable feeling of going to the doctor. You were told by the physician’s office to show up 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment, only to see your doctor 45 minutes after your scheduled appointment. It is no wonder why people did not like going to the doctor!
Under the new delivery model, it is the comfort and convenience of the patient, not the physician, that is paramount. Population health initiatives are attempting to shift the focus of healthcare from simply treating sick people to proactively keeping entire populations of people well, while at the same time reducing costs of delivering care. In order to achieve these goals, providers are being forced to pay attention to patient satisfaction metrics and are beginning to provide healthcare services in more comfortable and convenient environments. This means diverting many traditional non-acute healthcare services away from the acute care setting and into comfortable and easily accessible buildings in the neighborhoods where their patients live and work. Inherent in this shift is a recognition that consumers have a choice in their healthcare and convenience and accessibility are key drivers in this choice. In addition, providers recognize that if they can deliver healthcare in a more pleasant and convenient setting, they are more likely to see patients on a more regular basis, which will enable them to better control outcomes and prevent chronic disease. As a result, this emphasis on retailization is good for both the patients and the providers.