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Retail as new center of healthcare delivery


Walmart’s Marcus Osborne (far right)

Health care in the early part of the 21st century requires a comprehensive approach with providers, insurers and government entities working together to drive patient well-being. That was the key takeaway from a panel of managed care executives, anchored by Walmart VP health and wellness transformation Marcus Osborne — part of a one-day thought leadership event co-hosted by Drug Store News and Mack Elevation Forum — in mid-June in Bentonville, Ark., aimed at activating retail health as the center of the new healthcare ecosystem.

(To view the full Special Report, click here.)

“Retail is trying to get into health care, and healthcare providers are trying to get into the consumer side of the business,” said Mary Alice Lawless, managing director of everythingHEALTH and the moderator of the discussion, which also featured Aetna senior director of consumer initiatives Christina Speck, UnitedHealthcare director of strategic alliances and business development Shannon Huneke and Foundation for Health Smart Consumers fellow Mike Tarino. “It’s like peanut butter and chocolate. We need to figure out how it fits,” Lawless added, outlining the goal of the discussion.

With pharmacists in their stores, a growing number of walk-in health clinics and a vast assortment of health-related, over-the-counter products, CPG retailers are expected to play a key role in patient care going forward. Participants in the panel, however, admitted that the segment has a long way to go to fulfill its role in this new healthcare dynamic.

“[Retail] is more defined by its potential than what it has delivered in healthcare,” Osborne said. “I would say [the entire retail industry] has largely failed to date to do everything we could do and should be doing to impact and improve the health of consumers.”

Failure, however, can be a good thing, he noted, as retailers learn from their mistakes and pursue new strategies and programs that capitalize on their inherent strengths.

“Walmart is in a very real position in people’s lives,” he added. “We know the real issues that people are facing, and we’re a venue to engage them.”

In the next few pages, DSN examines what each of the companies on the panel are doing to expand their reach and make healthcare delivery more convenient and efficient.

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