In light of the recent merger between CVS and health insurer Aetna, the company is working to redefine what a drugstore could be.
They are currently piloting their new “HealthHUB” stores in Houston, which are primarily focused on offering services to help people better manage chronic diseases, like diabetes, and avoid costly trips to the ER.
Products like greeting cards are being downsized for wellness rooms and iPad stations, where customers can take yoga classes, attend health seminars, have lab testing done, or consult with a dietician.
Walgreens is also moving in a similar direction, testing out its newly re-designed health-centric store in Illinois. But are these new in-pharmacy clinics something that the general public wants or needs?
In an online study of 1,753 U.S. adults, CivicScience found that a small percentage (10%) readily embrace the concept of the in-pharmacy clinic, saying they are “very likely” to visit one. One-quarter of adults are willing to entertain the notion, stating they are “somewhat likely” to visit one, while the majority are “not at all likely.”
Altogether, nearly 40% of people are at all likely to make use of in-pharmacy clinics for certain healthcare needs. That seems promising for a concept model still in the proving grounds.
However, taking a glimpse behind the numbers reveals some key findings that will likely have an impact going forward.
Young Adults are More Favorable
Interestingly, the study found that younger audiences, in general, are more open to the idea of in-pharmacy clinics, while favorability decreases with age. In particular, 18-24-year-olds are the most interested — a majority say they are likely to visit the clinics. At the same time, three-quarters of adults aged 65 and older say they are not at all likely to visit the clinics.
Given that many of the services offered at CVS’ HealthHUB, such as diabetes and cardiovascular care, are more germane to the older population, there’s a disconnect between the target audience and the new store models.
When it comes to something as personal as health, it’s no surprise that many are slow to change. But the fact that so many young adults are interested in the clinics shows an openness to adopt new alternative options for healthcare among that population, which could be a game-changer in the long run.
Student Debt Has an Edge Among Early Adopters, Not Income
Age seems to factor into future adoption, but income levels have conflicting results at best. Middle-class earners making between $50-150k per year are the least likely to be open to in-pharmacy clinics, but sentiments among those who earn $50k or less are on par with those making $150k or more per year.
However, what does bear greater weight is whether or not someone holds student loan debt. Those with student loan debt are three times more likely to be “very likely” to visit an in-pharmacy clinic than those without it.
Of course, age is intrinsic here, as young adults hold more student debt than older adults. However, the study found credit card or mortgage debt, in comparison, did not have the same correlation to future adoption; in fact, they were inversely related.
We’ve already seen indicators that student debt affects home-buying and high health insurance costs are driving down spending among young people, just two out of a cocktail of factors redefining the economic landscape and leaving the playing field wide open for industry innovators.
That said, if CVS and Walgreens move forward with their health-centric models, further research is needed to determine what may be driving young adults to be more willing to adopt these new healthcare hybrids. Perceived cost-effectiveness, convenience, brand loyalty, and novelty factor could all play roles.
For example, the study found that adults who have not visited a doctor, nurse, or another health professional in the last 12 months are among the most likely to visit an in-pharmacy clinic. Again, age factors into the equation, as data shows young adults ages 18-34 as a whole make less health-related visits than older adults.
Even though young adults also have fewer health issues, still, the data above could indicate there is indeed a desire among these “no-goers” to seek medical attention, but they may choose not to do so for a number of reasons, such as cost, inconvenience, or perhaps not having an established doctor or healthcare team.
Whatever the reason, in-pharmacy health clinics appeal to this population, as much as they appeal to adults who are heavy healthcare users, visiting doctors/health professionals 6-9 times per year.