Seven signs of the retail health revolution


In June, Drug Store News and Mack Elevation Forum co-hosted an exclusive one-day Retail Health Summit in Bentonville, Ark. Here are my seven takeaways:

  1. Health care is a journey: The rise of consumerism is driving health care to a patient-centered, omnichannel model — 80% of patients begin their healthcare journey online. Meet customers where they are, mapping patient journeys and creating relevant touchpoints and personalized solutions on their personal journey.

  2. Food, exercise is the new medicine: The Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program enables physicians to write “prescriptions” for fruits and vegetables for low-income, at-risk consumers that can be redeemed at participating retailers and local farmers’ markets. Tulane University’s School of Medicine created the Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine — the first of its kind. Goldring is licensing its culinary nutrition curriculum to 25 other medical schools. And, Exercise is Medicine, an initiative of the American College of Sports Medicine, is working to create fitness prescriptions. An EIM program in Vermont is providing doctors with prescriptions for outdoor exercise — redeemable for a free day pass at all state parks.

  3. Loneliness is the new smoking: According to AARP, 1-in-4 people over the age of 45 is chronically lonely. Loneliness can lead to serious medical problems. More than half of people with chronic conditions also suffer from loneliness, including patients diagnosed with obesity (43%), sleep disorders (45%), chronic pain (47%) and anxiety (56%). Patients with a strong “sense of purpose”had 17% fewer hospitalizations.

  4. Prevention is the new sustainability: Consumers expect brands to help keep them healthy, according to research from Edelman. The post-2008, recession-addled consumer expects all companies, from healthcare providers (90%) to food and beverage makers (89%), brewing companies and spirit makers (82%) and even banks (77%) to engage them in their health care. In fact, health is one area where consumers are willing to pay a little more — 55% said they would pay up to 10% more for a healthier version of a product.

  5. Retail is the center of new healthcare ecosystem: Eighty-two percent of consumers expect retailers to engage them in health, according to Edelman. The store can make a connection to the consumer, drive loyalty and create “connective tissue” that goes beyond blips and bytes.

  6. Home is the new long-term care solution: The number of Americans living in multigenerational homes has more than doubled since 1980 to 60 million people, according to the Pew Research Center. One-third of adults expect to eventually share their home with an elderly parent, according to home builder PolteGroup. According to AARP, more than 40 million Americans provide unpaid care for an adult. Nearly half of all caregivers care for someone over the age of 75 — and 1-in-10 is over the age of 75. Technology could — and should — play a role here. But while 71% of caregivers are interested in using technology to support their caregiving tasks, only 7% are using available technologies.

  7. Balancing humanity and technology: Clearly, retail has the opportunity to take on a greater role as the care coach for the community. Technology will help light the way toward solutions, but there is no denying the importance of the human touch. The future of healthcare data will be highly personalized, synthesized and easy to monitor and consume.

Rob Eder is the associate publisher/editor in chief of Drug Store News.

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