As the US economy improves and the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) begins to actually provide people with health insurance, experts are predicting a barrage of newly insured individuals to hit the healthcare system. Many pundits are expecting a bit of a bumpy ride as increased demands for service outstrips the capacity of the system to deliver them. I believe this opens a terrific opportunity for alternative delivery models such as urgent care centers and especially for retail healthcare providers—the so called mini-clinics that have been popping up in retail pharmacies, grocery stores and shopping malls. Operators of such facilities would be wise to capitalize on this unique window of opportunity that is coming their way in 2014. The question is, are they prepared to capture all these new customers and keep them coming back for more?
First and foremost, operators of retail clinics need to clearly understand where they fit in the ecosystem of healthcare delivery. They are not, nor should they be, a patient’s primary care provider. Rather, they should be viewed as a convenient adjunct or alternative for certain kinds of low acuity medical services. A retail clinic’s value proposition to the business where they are co-located is primarily to increase foot traffic and therefore drive ancillary sales of pharmaceuticals, merchandise, or services during the time customers are in the store. The value proposition to the customer is cost, quality, and convenience. To be successful, retail clinic operators must deliver an outstanding customer experience, one that goes well beyond what most patients have come to expect from traditional healthcare settings. This means excellence in every aspect of the customer experience from check-in to discharge. While most retail clinics today get good satisfaction scores from the patients who use them, there are numerous opportunities to make the experience even better. Here are some things to be thinking about: