US Insights

5 Ways technology is reshaping retail and healthcare

Kate Senzamici

Senior Analyst

Retail 11.30.2017 / 12:00

Doctor sending email

Retailers must fully consider the ways tech is reshaping healthcare.

As retailers with pharmacies and clinics more fully develop their healthcare offerings, digital tools and capabilities will play an important role. The increasing connectivity of healthcare means that it will become more integrated into shoppers’ everyday lives, blending into their shopping and spending routines. Thus, shoppers will be looking to (and expecting) retailers to provide the services and products to support and enhance their connected health journeys.

With this (and Amazon’s pharmacy ambitions) in mind, I attended the 2017 Connected Health Conference to get a better idea of how technology is re-shaping the medical industry and how it can help evolve retailer healthcare initiatives. Here are my five key takeaways from the two-day event:

The U.S. healthcare system will be the fourth-largest economy in the world by 2020.

Medical expenditures continue to increase: for example, U.S. spending on diabetes alone in 2012 was $245 billion. This spending is largely concentrated on treating the symptoms (30.3 million Americans have diabetes) vs. addressing the causes (86 million are pre-diabetic). As climbing costs and uncertainty around the healthcare system persist, access becomes increasingly strained.

Retail consideration: Enhance value proposition by helping shoppers/patients focus on prevention as a way to improve health, reduce costs, and act as a partner in shoppers’ health and wellness.

The physician no longer has to be at the center of care.

As digital therapeutics and health tools become a regular part of care, consumers are more accountable and in control of their health. When healthcare is supplemented by mobile apps, wearable devices, virtual coaching, or voice technology, the approach to care becomes more multi-faceted and team-oriented.

Retail consideration: Focus on adherence solutions that leverage convenience to help shoppers achieve positive health outcomes and bridge the gap between pharmacies and healthcare providers.

Don’t count out seniors when it comes to healthcare technology.

Seniors represent one of the populations that stand to benefit the most from connected health innovations. For example, the percentage of people over the age of 65 who use wearable devices (17%) is almost equal to the percentage of people under 65 who do so (20%). By designing for an expanded life span, technology can connect seniors with a sense of purpose, unite them with social networks, and inspire physical activity – the three components of healthy longevity.

In particular, voice technology has a lot of potential with seniors; it’s a more natural way of engaging, and has less of a learning curve due to lack of screen navigation and interfacing. This is top of mind for Amazon, which is focusing heavily on incorporating health tools into the Echo platform.

Retail consideration:  Drive engagement among seniors and caregivers by expanding thinking around digital health programs to include voice technology; move beyond mobile and wearable devices to transform aging from a burden into an opportunity. 

But: with more technology in healthcare comes the risk of creating a new digital divide.

While advancements in connected health are ostensibly aimed at improving the healthcare system, there is a danger of alienating underserved populations. And it’s not just about having financial access to the latest devices – it’s about actually being able to use the technology well. Additionally, there is a lot of potential to leverage artificial intelligence and tele-health (generally aimed at higher payers) to provide health care to underserved populations who face barriers to access.

Retail consideration: Tailor health services, solutions, and communications to fit the unique needs of populations at the local level to build trust and credibility by increasing access and demonstrating understanding. 

For technology in healthcare to work, effective communication is most essential.

The healthcare system is not yet “smart.” Communication is the number one problem in healthcare, and failures here erode service and add to suffering. Retail corporations getting into healthcare is a big deal because they know how to engage consumers; in particular, Amazon is primed to fill this engagement gap as they become a more active participant in the healthcare and pharmacy industries.

Retail consideration: Achieve loyalty by incorporating empathy into service design; don’t lose sight of core service and engagement components when developing your healthcare offerings. 

Source: Kantar Retail

Editor's Notes

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