Recently, CVS bought Aetna and if approved, the merger means two companies in their own separate channels of healthcare become one. Although this could provide a big benefit for patients, it is also poised to take yet another piece of revenue from pediatricians in private practice.
According to a press release about the merger,
“CVS Health President and Chief Executive Officer Larry J. Merlo said, 'This combination brings together the expertise of two great companies to remake the consumer health care experience. With the analytics of Aetna and CVS Health's human touch, we will create a health care platform built around individuals. We look forward to working with the talented people at Aetna to position the combined company as America's front door to quality health care, integrating more closely the work of doctors, pharmacists, other health care professionals and health benefits companies to create a platform that is easier to use and less expensive for consumers.'"
It sounds like Aetna is going to leverage CVS Health's 9,700 CVS Pharmacy locations and 1,100 MinuteClinic walk-in clinics if the idea in the press release comes to fruition:
“CVS Pharmacy locations will include space for wellness, clinical and pharmacy services, vision, hearing, nutrition, beauty, and medical equipment, in addition to the products and services our customers currently enjoy.”
As a pediatrician and a private business owner, this information should send chills down your spine. You’re already competing with CVS MinuteClinics for simple sick visits, coughs, sore throats, and the like. But now you may have to compete with them for well visits too. And if your patients have Aetna, you have to wonder if they’ll get pushed to these clinics by being offered some sort of incentive.
With all the other challenges you face, you may just want to throw your hands in the air and walk away.
As the owner of your practice you can compete and win. How?
It’s simple, YOU have the competitive advantage. You already know your patients, you’ve spent time with them, and maybe you’ve even seen families for multiple generations. Now you need to keep them coming back to you.
You can make some simple changes to your practice that leverage the competitive advantage you already have.
Below are 4 changes you can make in your practice to compete in today's market. All of these changes increase your availabilty and presence to level the playing field when the MinuteClinic moves in.
- Be available to your patients when they need you. Offer before school and after school appointments. Offer appointments one or two late nights per week. Open your doors on the weekend. Take calls or have a nurse triage line set up for your patients for the hours you can’t work.
- Become an active member of your community. Sponsor coat drives, diaper drives, have a new moms coffee hour. Do pro-bono work in your community.
- Update your web presence – make sure your patients can find your practices' website and social media pages.
- Embrace technology and use your patient portal to its fullest extent.