With the recent commoditization of the primary care relationship and increasing recognition by insurers and retailers that primary care is the gateway into the healthcare system, many of the industry’s biggest players have been investing heavily in developing “health hubs” to control the funnel of patient care and drive consumer spending. CVS Health, Walmart and UnitedHealthcare are some of the biggest names that are developing first-rate healthcare experiences through local health hubs; with multi-pronged goals of capturing primary care provider dollars, steering members to efficient specialist and facilities, and driving foot traffic to locations that can generate additional consumer spending on other nonhealthcare-related purchases.

Viewpoints from Adam Okun

The move by several insurers and retailers into the front end of the healthcare delivery system is sure to raise eyebrows of primary care physician groups and urgent care centers which have worked in recent years to expand their footprints and largely participate in the broader insurer networks. There was a recent article in the Wall Street Journal highlighting the tremors this is sending through the market as business partners suddenly become competitors.

There is no question that consumers will be the ultimate beneficiaries as the hubs will likely provide them with improved experiences. One Medical was a pioneer in the movement to “luxurize” the primary care experience and early indications are that these new entrants are investing heavily in providing an enhanced customer experience. But how this benefits the healthcare economy will ultimately depend on the effectiveness of these hubs to reduce spending by providing single points of care for additional services (preventive, pharmacy, etc.) and driving more efficiencies in the subsequent steerage to lower cost/higher quality specialists and facilities.

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Adam Okun

Northeast Region Employee Benefits Practice Leader – New York, NY