Target Offers Consumer Lessons for the Healthcare Industry

Customer Engagement
Customer Experience
Target uses its experience in the retail environment to make consumer-focused health and wellness a competitive advantage.

"Consumers think of healthcare as a complex web," said Joshua Riff, M.D., chief medical director at Target at today's World Health Care Congress event. The company known for customer engagement sees healthcare as a potential new horizon. It is using its experience in the retail environment to make consumer-focused health and wellness a competitive advantage. The company already operates pharmacies within its Target stores, and is currently piloting health clinics in about 40 locations.

"To be successful in healthcare at Target, we have to have the best of both [the retail and healthcare worlds]," Riff told the audience. "The patient is at center of everything we do." He offered some common sense lessons from retail that can be leveraged in the healthcare industry:

    - Leverage impulse buys - Just like a pack of gum or latest magazine, consumers will make healthy impulse buys if given the opportunity. Riff said that 70 percent of Target "guests" who got a flu shot were not planning on getting one. They saw the sign when they were in the store for something else and made the decision on impulse. He advised providers and payers to make healthy impulse preventative care available where possible to give consumers a simple and convenient opportunity to improve or maintain their health.

    - Healthy end caps - Store end cap displays or solutions centered are designed to solve a particular problem by putting everything you need to solve a problem in one area. In a store, it may mean putting cake batter, icing, birthday candles, and frosting together. At Target, Riff detailed its "Heart health solutions center," which contains blood pressure monitors, aspirin, fish oils, and other heart-related health items together.

    He said that the current patient experience means jumping from doctor to doctor to treat certain common conditions. If providers set up solutions centers around the condition, such as a "cough center" or otherwise, consumers would have one place to go to solve their problem. This thinking makes the healthcare system fit around consumers' lives, not the other way around.

These quick lessons are just a few suggestions Riff provided as ways to bring the best of the retail and healthcare worlds together. Ultimately, Target's goals are to "simplify health by putting consumer at everything we do." It's a strategy that can be useful for every industry.