In healthcare, the reality used to be that high acuity meant high strategic value. For hospital systems and multispecialty groups, this transcended everything from physician recruitment priorities to real estate investment strategy. Today, the strategic value of acuity has flipped. Low acuity now means high strategic value.
Low acuity equals mass market, a funnel for bringing in new patients and new customers who have no loyalty. Just like their favorite restaurant, patients want medical providers to wow them with great attention, fast service and a fair price. We call this the merchant mentality. Six years ago we started this company to help hospital systems and medical groups move quickly to this new reality. We collect meaningful data points from around the country that fuel our creativity. And true strategic thinking is born from creativity.
Just look at some of the transactions taking place in the last five years. Humana buys Concentra. Dignity Health buys US Healthworks. Wellpoint invests in Physicians Immediate Care. Blue Cross of North Carolina invests in FastMed. Walgreens buys CHD Meridian and Whole Health.
At the same time, this mass market for low-end healthcare is converging. Urgent care, retail, worksite and near-site clinics, direct primary care and telehealth all represent business models that are borrowing ideas from each other. We call this ConvUrgentCare. This convergence is creating a highly dynamic, consumer-driven market that is chasing the dollars spent before high deductible insurance kicks in.
Partnerships, joint ventures and acquisitions abound. Hybrids are evolving between primary care and urgent care; between direct primary care and worksite care; between urgent care and near-site care; between scheduled models and walk-in models. All are using technology to improve provider labor allocation, patient queuing, workflow, and customer (patient) relationship management.
Yet amid all of this, like politics, healthcare is local. And if you don’t have a clear strategy at the low end of the acuity spectrum, the high end will likely dry up. Give us a call. You’ll be surprised how much we know about your market already. We’ll use strategic frameworks to help you assess available market size, competition, growth, and reimbursement trends. Then we’ll work together, think creatively, and take you to new level of competitive differentiation.
Merchant Medicine CEO
Tom Charland has more than 25 years experience in general management, sales and strategic planning. He has been a key player in retail medicine since its market emergence in early 2000. He was senior vice president of strategy and business development at MinuteClinic from the early stage - when the company was known as QuickMedx - through the establishment of MinuteClinic’s relationship with CVS Pharmacy. He is credited with helping to move MinuteClinic from a cash-only regional player to a mainstream national clinic network by convincing national health insurers to put MinuteClinic into their networks and building MinuteClinic’s employer and broker relations program.
He has also been involved in several company turnarounds. At Digital Cyclone Inc., a mobile applications technology company where Charland was CEO, he helped the company emerge after the Internet bubble into a pioneer in cell phone applications. That company was acquired by Garmin, the satellite navigation company. At Control Data Systems, a software development and systems integrator where he was managing director of the applications development division, Charland led several groundbreaking health care application projects, including the back-end infrastructure for Inoveon, a leading national remote diabetic retinopathy screening company. Control Data Systems was acquired by British Telecom.
Charland is a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives and the Urgent Care Association of America. He also serves on the Journal of Urgent Care Management Editorial Advisory Board. He is a 1980 graduate of the Boston University College of Communications.