America is seeking a new normal in healthcare. At the National Blue Cross Consortium meeting this week, I listened to the consultant Oliver Wyman discuss future healthcare trends. The theory they are espousing is that Americans are changing the way they access healthcare. Telemedicine and retail clinics (Walmart/CVS) are increasingly becoming the new portal to healthcare.
During the period 2010 to 2015, telemedicine spending increased from $540 million to $1.9 billion. Retail clinic usage increased 176% to 19 million visits and urgent care center usage increased by 5.8% annually. In 2013, 15% of respondents used a retail clinic. This grew to 26% in 2015. Additionally, Americans aren’t thrilled with our current healthcare system. Our perception of the healthcare experience at 64% favorable is only slightly worse than our satisfaction with Internet providers. So it wasn’t surprising for me to learn that 79% found the care at a retail clinic to be as good as or better than a traditional doctor’s office. And that varied only slightly for age, income and health status.
50% of respondents are concerned about cost. So it appears that the interest of employers and those of care recipients are aligned. Breaking habits is hard, and it is going to require a great deal of effort to achieve a meaningful shift. We have been recommending that plan sponsors promote lower costs and better experience associated with using retail clinics and telemedicine. It will be worth it.