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How to Compete Against Big Box Care


As more and more big box retailers get into the walk-in clinic game, traditional medical practices should look to independent pharmacies for tips on how to survive, and thrive.

The number of retail health clinics will exceed 2,800 by 2017, which is an increase of 47% from about 1,900 in 2014, according to a new report from Accenture.

Located in pharmacies, retail chains, and supermarkets, these walk-in clinics will be able to handle 25 million patient visits in 2017, up from 16 million in 2014, Accenture predicts.

The same thing happened to independent pharmacies many years ago, and yet, independent pharmacies continue to thrive. What are the lessons learned?:

1. Focus on personal, friendly, convenient service.

2. Aggregate to buy and sell services at competitive prices.

3. Extend your product lines to more profitable products. Notice drugs stores selling liquor?

4. Make your practice more than just a place to stop in now and then. Independent pharmacies used to be community resources and they are going back to that model.

5. Differentiate yourself from big box care and be laser focused on high yield customer segments. Think like independent book stores.

6. Practice digical health and advanced online and mobile marketing techniques.

7. Don't chase the laggards.

8. Practice at the top of your license and find a niche to play nice with big box care via coopetition.

9. Think location, location, location,

10. Spend a lot of time in Rite Aid, CVS, and Walgreens and learn.

Today I went to a small Ace hardware store to buy one item. I was met immediately by a friendly guy who personally walked me to the electrical section and showed me a big selection of what I was looking for. It took me a short time to get what I wanted for a reasonable price. It would have taken me longer to get in and out of the Home Depot parking lot.

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Victor J. Dzau, MD, gives expert advice
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