Could A Retail Philosophy Put The ‘Care’ Back In Your Healthcare Practice?

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With a world-class medical talent pool and the ability to collaborate with the NHS, healthcare startups in the UK right now are in pretty good stead. In fact, this £70 billion industry is a reliable place to start something new, and countless startups are taking advantage of that.

Of course, as with any booming industry, competition here is rife, and making a mark early is vital. The trouble is that, as many new companies are discovering, innovation in this age-old industry is harder to come by than you might imagine.

While there is plenty of new healthcare tech to invest in, you can bet that pretty much every other startup on the block is doing the same thing. Plus, true tech innovations cost amounts that you might not have at this early stage.

With that in mind, you’ll want to consider alternative ways to give your healthcare practice an edge, and one unexpected option is that of applying a retail philosophy. From the outside, this can seem as though it goes against everything you know. Patient care is, after all, distinctly different to the customer focuses more commonly seen within retail.

Still, there’s no denying that applying some aspects of the retail philosophy could be enough to secure early success. The question is, how exactly can you do that?

# 1 – The patient is always right

The idea that the customer is always right has been a staple of growing business in retail for years, and it’s proven incredibly effective for ensuring satisfactory consumer experiences. Obviously, you should never compromise on medical knowledge to make your patients feel good. Still, many healthcare providers are finding that giving patients more autonomy is useful for saving time and improving experiences.

Instead of merely discarding self-diagnosis, you may, therefore, want to get into the habit of asking patients what they think is wrong. This will help them get their point across, as well as merging with your medical knowledge to arrive at faster, more considered conclusions every time.

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# 2 – Personalisation always matters

Retail rivalry has led to an increased focus surrounding personalisation, with countless companies new implementing unique discounts and tailored marketing. So, too, should personalisation be at the helm within your healthcare company.

As can be seen from more than one of the testimonies given in this article about lessons learned as a nurse, putting patient needs at the heart of medical service should always be a priority. And, what better way to achieve that than to focus on personalisation moving forward?

By thinking about things like personalised appointment notifications, same-provider care, and even personalised medication preferences, you can drastically transform your patient experiences. Even better, these goals are all easy enough to achieve as automation continues to change everything from booking to repeat prescription processes.

# 3 – Making things easier

Retailers also go above and beyond to make processes easier for consumers than ever before. Only by accommodating things like online shopping and 24/7 support do they stand any chance to stay ahead in a competitive field. Even web designs are now tailor-made with ease of use in mind at all times!

Sadly, this is a lead which many healthcare providers have been slow to follow, with countless appointment booking processes still incredibly long-winded and often tricky to manage. In some instances, shifts away from phone-bookings have even left patients entirely uncertain about how to book up in the first place.

For obvious reasons, this can lead patients to consider alternative providers before you’ve even had a chance to impress. And, overcoming it is as simple as doing like the retailers, and taking the faff out of patient experiences.

Instead of long waiting times with no guidance, implement a call waiting message that informs patients of their number in the queue. Instead of in-person bookings, implement simple online systems that show available appointments. And, of course, invest in software that allows patients to book repeat prescriptions (where safe) at the click of a button.

These are all easy goals to achieve in healthcare nowadays, and they could each give you a surprising edge on competitors who don’t have the insight or know-how to accomplish the same. 

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# 4 – Speedy service creates results

Last but by no means least, the retail industry is pretty much built on the idea that speed is always better. This has long been the case, with many such companies advising team members to approach customers within minutes of them arriving. Now, they achieve the same with fast checkout processes and one-click buys online. The philosophy is simple; securing sales sooner leaves less time for doubt or competition.

Yet, this is the crossover that healthcare providers have perhaps fallen furthest behind, with even emergency appointments often hard to come by, and general bookings running at least two weeks behind. It’s such an issue, in fact, that patients often joke about the need to give advance warning of illness!

Sadly, this is the hardest thing to tackle from a healthcare perspective, with long waiting lists usually emerging as a result of demand rather than inefficiency. But that doesn’t mean you’re powerless. Simple things, like tackling missed appointments with pre-notice text messages or emails, could help to speed things up at least a little.

Ensuring that you never overload your patient books is another wise choice, and perhaps your best plan of action. You may assume that more is better, but that’s not the case if you can’t impress the patients you’ve got. Instead, know without a doubt the workloads you can manage, and invest in a reliable booking system that allows you to leave at least a few appointments free for patient emergencies each day.


On the surface, retail and healthcare have nothing in common. Indeed, it’s vital to remember that you’re serving your patients, not selling to them. Still, considering crossovers in these critical ways could just surprise you by providing the profits and success that you’ve always struggled with until now.

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