Last week with the CMS announcement of an addition 106 ACOs, scant attention was paid to who those ACOs were awarded too. Buried in the 106 new ACOs announcement, you will find the Walgreens Company had three market applications awarded to them in partnership with 3 physician groups. The ACOs are in Texas, Florida and New Jersey. Their employer worksite clinics have been certified as medical homes. It is rumored that Walgreens is making plans for their own private health insurance exchange. A formidable competitor in the retail clinic space, they just became the 800 pound gorilla in the room.
I have written about Walgreens eight separate times and their retail health efforts that would fundamentally change healthcare from a competitive and marketing standpoint since I started writing this blog. (If you're interested you can use the search function of the blog and find the posts. Just search the term Walgreens.) And for the most part the reaction has been "it's just a fad and the consumer won't go for it."
Are you paying attention now?
This make perfect sense and is another important development in the "retailization" of healthcare.
Who's brand do you think will make more of an impact when the time comes for people to enroll in ACOs, your hospital, health system or brand new name for the ACO, or Walgreens and the associated physicians?
Who has more brand impact and recognition when someone drives by, your hospital or a Walgreens?
Who provides better customer and patient experience, you or Walgreens?
Who completely understands the market, consumer healthcare needs and can price appropriately and aggressively the service to make it attractive to the healthcare consumer, you or Walgreens?
Who is going to be able to mount a formidable consumer marketing campaign that is research driven that will deliver the intended enrollments and ROI, you or Walgreens?
Anyhow, you get the idea.
There is a lot more and I for one do not doubt the ability of the brain trust over on Wilmot Ave in Deerfield, Illinois to pull this off and be successful along any number of quality, outcome or financial measures. After all, I worked for them for a couple of years as the senior marketing manager responsible for all specialty pharmacy marketing and understand how they think, work and accomplish things. So this isn't a surprise for me and makes perfect sense. Fits right in with the Take Care retail clinic, Workplace Health the employer worksite clinics, specialty pharmacy, home infusion, respiratory care and durable medical equipment businesses they have been building since 2007.
If you weren't serious about upgrading your marketing talent, resources and operations for getting ready for some real competition in healthcare, you better. Walgreens entry into ACOs changes the healthcare competition and marketing game.
Now, where are those hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, free-standing diagnostic centers and nursing homes for sub-acute care that will build out their retail healthcare system?
Michael Krivich is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 5,000 monthly pages views in over 52 countries worldwide on Healthcare Marketing Matters. He is founder of the michael J group, a healthcare marketing consultancy dedicated to creating value through strategic marketing for hospitals and health system regardless of payment mechanism, either fee-for-service or value-based to increase market-share, revenue , brand and demonstrate actual return on marketing investment. Michael is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association. Like us on facebook at the michael J group.