December 6, 2017
There’s a lot of discussion about the “retailization” of healthcare—the idea that patients are consumers, and healthcare delivered in a retail setting provides greater convenience and quickness. But one expert doubts that a retail mindset can give patients what they really want.
Timothy J. Hoff, Ph.D., professor of management, healthcare systems, and health policy at the D’Amore-McKim School of Business and the School of Public Affairs and Policy at Northeastern University in Boston, said retail thinking “gives brick-and-mortar organizations cross-selling opportunities for everything from allergy medications to Halloween candy as I walk down the store aisle to get my flu shot from the pharmacist or have the nurse practitioner apply guideline-driven diagnosis and treatment.”
Hoff, the author of Next in Line: Lowered Care Expectations in the Age of Retail- and Value-Based Health, noted that the providers he sees during these interactions know nothing about him. Moreover, they “offer little tailored advice, and the services they provide will be both limited and standardized in how they are delivered.”
Hoff contended that retail health care is “impersonal, lacks relational warmth, and isn’t what patients really want.” He interviewed 80 patients and doctors for his book, and found that the “impersonal nature of retail thinking is frustrating” to patients and doctors alike.
“No patient with whom I spoke wanted transactional care at the expense of relational care,” Hoff said. “No one prioritized Fitbits, web-based assessments of symptoms, or seeing a stranger about a sore throat in a big-box store over a long-term personal connection with a doctor. What these individuals wanted most in health care was something human and more intimate, maintained through regular one-on-one interactions with experts they knew and trusted who were compassionate, empathetic, friendly, and respectful.”
For questions, comments or concerns, please contact Jennifer Duell Popovec