Healthcare Experience Index

See how your business measures up to retail primary care providers

Consumer Insights Market Research Healthcare

Disrupting Healthcare: Retail Primary Care Reshapes Patient Experience

Stay up to date

In the ever-evolving landscape of healthcare, retail-based primary care services, virtual care, and telehealth providers are emerging as disruptors, altering or eliminating the customer relationship with their primary care physicians or providers. What is the magnitude of this disruption and how will it change the face of healthcare in the years to come?  

To understand the impact of this disruption, MDRG delved into the norm for customer relationships, the inception of retail-based primary healthcare providers, and the pain points they aim to address.


Disruptors Challenge Loyalty to Traditional Healthcare Systems 

In the traditional model, patients rely on their primary care provider (PCP) for everything related to their health: vaccines, acne remedies, or even cancer screenings. When a specialist is necessary, patients trust their PCP to refer them to someone that can provide the same level of care. In larger healthcare systems, this means keeping the patient within the system, containing their care and maintaining their loyalty. 


However, this relationship is characterized by complexities, limited accessibility, and a lack of cost transparency. Patients often encounter hurdles in understanding medical costs, access to treatment, appointment availability, and general navigation of convoluted healthcare systems. The current status quo creates frustration and dissatisfaction among consumers seeking convenient, accessible, and affordable healthcare options. 


The disruption by retail-based primary healthcare providers began over the last few years as businesses entered the healthcare arena armed with a deep understanding of the consumer journey. Retail giants like Walmart, Amazon, Walgreens, and CVS identified specific pain points within primary care and set out to solve them. They introduced a new paradigm focused on cost transparency, convenience, access, and clarity, challenging the established norms of the healthcare experience.


This paradigm shift affects the patient-provider loyalty that previously existed with primary care physicians. With retail providers like Walmart and Amazon entering the primary care space, patients may no longer feel a strong allegiance to their existing healthcare providers. This shift can also lead to a loss of control over the referral source for specialty care, removing the ability for healthcare systems to keep their patients’ care in-house.  


Retail Clinics Poised for Growth 

Currently, the healthcare experience is undergoing a transformation. While many individuals still prefer seeing their primary care physicians, the entry of retail providers has opened doors and broadened perspectives, presenting alternative options. Market research indicates that retail clinics are poised for significant growth, with the U.S. retail clinics market projected to reach $4.22 billion by 2029, reflecting a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.8% from 2022. 



The Future of Healthcare is in Flux 

While the disruption affects various segments, hospitals and healthcare systems are particularly concerned about the entry of retail providers. Private practices too are at risk as patients may sacrifice loyalty for the sake of ease, better appointment availability, and extended operating hours.  


Retail-based primary care providers such as Walmart, Amazon Health, Walgreens, CVS, Best Buy, and Dollar General are the major players driving this disruption. They employ different strategies, from providing nearly instant access to prescriptions to leveraging technology for chronic disease management, ultimately offering transparency, convenience, and access to consumers. 


The impact of this disruption is not limited to specific regions. Retail primary care providers cater to areas where access to healthcare or hospitals is challenging. Their focus on making healthcare easily accessible resonates with patients facing barriers to appointments or hospital visits in any setting. 


Where Does Your Healthcare Business Stand? 


As the healthcare industry continues to evolve, understanding consumer mindsets, motivations, and demographics will be crucial in shaping the next era of healthcare provision. Where does your healthcare business stand?  


MDRG can help.


See below how we can provide a benchmark report of how your business compares to retail primary care providers to make sure you maintain your patient base and evolve as the industry continues to change. 


Get latest articles directly in your inbox, stay up to date