• David Chou

Healthcare Providers Must Get Creative And Co-Create With Big Box Retailers.


Walmart's health centers are coming to Florida to focus on affordable and accessible care for the community in the Jacksonville area. They are the largest private-sector employer, and the largest grocer in the U.S. Now Walmart is looking to become a healthcare organization.


The health clinic will offer full-service primary and urgent care, labs, x-ray and diagnostics, counseling, dental, optical and hearing services in the same vicinity or adjacent to the retail shop. The fee schedule will be $30 for an adult annual checkup, and a strep test costs $20. A dental exam is $25, including X-rays. These price points will be hard for Walmart to make a margin, while hospitals will be unable to match Walmart's prices.


CVS and Walgreens will also provide similar healthcare service offerings in various states at their retail locations. Many traditional healthcare provider organizations have been building additional expensive brick and mortar sites to compete. Instead, health systems should explore creative options.


New Partnership Model

Health systems must reevaluate their strategic partners and view big retail chains as an opportunity for a partnership. Population health management is a top strategic goal for hospitals. Partnering with a retailer like Walmart can help educate and change the consumer's grocery shopping habit toward healthier choices. This can lead to healthier citizens in the community while meeting the hospital's population health metrics.


Customer trust is a critical element, and it is even more critical when it comes to healthcare service delivery, but it won't be easy. A Walmart like partnership model consisting of a joint venture is a partnership model to explore. The health system will utilize Walmart's health clinic for outpatient care services paying a fee schedule for the services performed. The model allows a trusted health system and hospital operator to utilize their seasoned clinicians with the trust of the community to provide clinical workflow guidance. Clinics will have the support of the health system's operational expertise using appropriate clinical protocols for the outpatient clinic. This approach will allow hospitals to focus on high acuity care in the inpatient setting while taking on more risk in the population health management to keep the patients out of the hospitals.


Another partnership model is for the hospitals to work with retailers looking to shrink their physical footprint and lease space within the store to set up a hospital's outpatient clinic. Retail shops have the goal of increasing customer foot traffic while keeping them in the store longer. Examples of this include Kohl's accepting Amazon returns and Costco providing food samples. A health clinic branded by a local health system inside a retail store will allow customers to shop while getting their health check-ups. Wellness and outpatient clinics retailers such as dollar tree and dollar general can be a unique model for the hospital's population health management and risk stratification strategy.


Big Idea For Healthcare CIOs

Healthcare provider CIOs should explore a similar partnership approach. Working from anywhere is the new norm, requiring healthcare IT departments to start expanding and create a new model, supporting employee's home office networks and devices. Imagine a decentralized IT support model where a health system establishes its technical support office inside a retailer like Best Buy. IT technicians can recommend appropriate hardware from Best Buy or provide on-site support for the organization's devices that are not working at the employee's home office. This partnership model offers the ideal location for decentralized IT support at a convenient location for the employees working remotely.


We have also seen an uptick in telemedicine usage, and that trend will continue. Unfortunately, patients often have technical challenges and require technical support. The combination of a hospital clinic and IT support inside Best Buy can help resolve any fundamental technical setup issues so that the patients can establish future telemedicine care without any hiccups. Healthcare delivery requires human interaction since digital delivery is not the solution for every healthcare case. Patient satisfaction will increase with this combination if they can seek convenient on-site care, while also getting the assurance that their telemedicine technology used in future visits will be functional.


The time is now for healthcare CIOs to implement and potentially lead these bold non-traditional partnerships with retail companies as a differentiator. New business partnerships led by the CIO will be valuable, ensuring that the CIO is a strategic partner in the organization versus a big expense department.



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ABOUT David Chou

David Chou serves as the SVP/CIO for a public academic health system.  Chou has held executive roles with the Cleveland Clinic, Children's Mercy Hospital, University Of Mississippi Medical Center, AHMC Healthcare, and Prime Healthcare.  

David is a dynamic keynote speaker and industry commentator working with clients to transform their business models using technology. He has spoken around the world at healthcare tech-related conference including keynotes for leading industry events and intimate executive settings. Chou is also one of the most mentioned CIOs in the media and well quoted in outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, Modern Healthcare, HIMSS Media, ZDNet, CIO.com, Huffington Post, and Becker's Healthcare.  David is an active member of both ACHE and HIMSS while serving on the board for CHIME. 

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