How to Practice Retail Medicine

How to Practice Retail Medicine

Walmart, the world’s biggest retailer, is moving deeper into the primary care and mental health market, opening a new clinic called Walmart Health in Georgia. But for retailers when the inevitable winds of change blow with increased competition, the retailer can be rocked to the core or even collapse. For example, Forbes last week said that the U.S. boasts ten times more square footage of retail than most other countries. That means there are more places to buy more stuff than anywhere else in the world. At the same time, private practitioners are dwindling and they are struggling to compete with emerging sickcare retailers, sicktech high flyers and cable companies who all want a piece of pie.

So, what can doctors learn when it comes to practicing retail medicine?

1. Provide excellent customer service. An exceptional shopper experience is as much the setting as it is the encounter with your salespeople. Patients have low health and insurance IQs and , consequently, are terrible consumers of care. Educate them.

2. Buy intelligently & manage inventory closely. Run a mini-practice.

3. Market focused on what the customer needs and not on your need for their money. So you’ve got a new product? You’ve got a sale? So what? Who doesn’t? Create and deploy user defined value.

4. Train staff with systematic management. Never forget that your job as a retailer in this world of hope-depleting setbacks, is to provide your customers/patients with the hope to do better, to not give in or give up, and to not retreat into feeling isolated or sorry for themselves.

5. Manage your financial information. Data informs everything from employee management, to open-to-buy, to cash flow. Sickcare has become a data industry that happens to take care of patients.

6. Strategically merchandise your visual displays of disease prevention and wellness services and product line extensions.

7. Plan for the long range and have an exit strategy.

8. Measure outcomes and stop the doctor beauty pageants.

9. Rethink centers of excellence.

10. Focus on medical practice entrepreneurship, not medical practice management.

11. Be sure you have a digical marketing strategy.

12. Aim to win the 4th industrial revolution.

Both BIG MEDICINE and small medicine are going retail. Be sure you are not a victim of the future medical retail apocalypse by doing these things to piss off your patients.

Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA is the President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs on Twitter@ArlenMD and Co-editor of Digital Health Entrepreneurship.

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  • Jace Thomason

    I am against retail medicine

  • Ed Amaral

    We have become customers instead of patients.....

  • William Leon

    Convenience clinics are well-positioned to deliver high quality care

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Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA

Former Contributor

Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA is a professor emeritus of otolaryngology, dentistry, and engineering at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and the Colorado School of Public Health and President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs at He has created several medical device and digital health companies. His primary research centers around biomedical and health innovation and entrepreneurship and life science technology commercialization. He consults for and speaks to companies, governments, colleges and universities around the world who need his expertise and contacts in the areas of bio entrepreneurship, bioscience, healthcare, healthcare IT, medical tourism -- nationally and internationally, new product development, product design, and financing new ventures. He is a former Harvard-Macy fellow and In 2010, he completed a Fulbright at Kings Business, the commercialization office of technology transfer at Kings College in London. He recently published "Building the Case for Biotechnology." "Optical Detection of Cancer", and " The Life Science Innovation Roadmap". He is also an associate editor of the Journal of Commercial Biotechnology and Technology Transfer and Entrepreneurship and Editor-in-Chief of Medscape. In addition, He is a faculty member at the University of Colorado Denver Graduate School where he teaches Biomedical Entrepreneurship and is an iCorps participant, trainer and industry mentor. He is the Chief Medical Officer at and and Chairman of the Board at GlobalMindED at, a non-profit at risk student success network. He is honored to be named by Modern Healthcare as one of the 50 Most Influential Physician Executives of 2011 and nominated in 2012 and Best Doctors 2013.

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