Friday, July 24, 2009

Market Demand Essay

In today’s healthcare market, it seems like managed care companies are paying for less screenings, wellness and preventative medicine. Everyone wants to be healthy and know the numbers that can affect their lives. The thought of getting a disease or dying at an early age scares all of us but especially the baby boomer and elderly population. This large growing market is willing to open up their wallets and pay cash for the piece of mind that they are healthy. Hospitals are promoting heart tests to determine the risk of a heart attack; diagnostic imaging companies are setting up at the malls and charging hundreds of dollars to screen for cancer or stroke risks. It seems like there is a large profit to be seen in the preventative medicine area.

This environment is what brought about the potential for my patient care and education center. The location of the center is next to the pharmacy inside a Fry’s Food and Drug Store. It is centrally located on the west side of Phoenix and is close to several adult active living communities. It seems like the market potential for our services would be bountiful. The only issue is that the clinic is not marketing available services to its fullest potential.

The patient care center offers screening programs for diabetes, cholesterol, high blood pressure, osteoporosis and asthma. Along with these screening services, the center offers diabetes and asthma education programs to help newly diagnosed patient control their disease (Attachment 1). The majority of these services are provided by pharmacists that are certified in these disease states and a dietitian that offers nutrition advice and counseling. The services are not meant to replace physicians or regular office visits but to complement them.

Since the opening of the center, the primary focus of marketing has been on customers that shop at this Fry’s Food and Drug Store and surrounding stores. The surrounding markets such as senior centers, hospitals, medical offices, churches, schools, employers groups have not been pursued because of limited resources. As the business grows so does the opportunities to extend the programs to other market shares, the difficulty has been in defining the best direction and focus for that growth.

These types of health screenings and patient education services being provided by a pharmacist is a fairly new concept. At first some patients are skeptical of the services that are provided so the first step is to educate them on the benefit they provide. Once a person with diabetes sees how the center can help them understand their disease and make the most out of the short time they spend with their doctor at each visit, the word is out. They generally return and refer more potential customers. The center has been shown to be valuable for the winter visitor population that needs to have cholesterol screenings and other tests done for their physicians back home.

When evaluating the services available at the center, there are enough screenings and services to potentially offer value to the older population in the area. Educating the potential customer and selling them on the benefits of the services is the key for the center’s success.

Looking at the demographic information, the center is placed in an area that makes it convenient for the general population. The focus has been too small and needs to be on a larger market than just the shoppers at the supermarket location. Although research of the supermarket customers found the area to have a high older population with medications that focused them towards chronic disease states, the percentage of those customers that have taken advantage of the center’s services has been minimal. The center needs to refocus on the larger market share it wants to promote services to in the area. Possibly sending out flyers to outlying communities and making sure busy medical offices that may not have extra time to spend with newly diagnosed patients are aware of our services.

With the rushed healthcare environment that most patients encounter today, it is important to realize that not all patients are getting the information and services they need to stay in control of their health. The health screening programs available need to offer people more than just a number; they need to offer information and resources along with the test value so the services can aid in decision making and lifestyle changes needed to affect their well being. Patient empowerment is very valuable and wellness and preventative health programs may be part of the equation once people are aware of the benefits these programs offer.

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