A Twist on Retail Health
What comes to mind when you hear the phrase “retail health care?”
Flu shots at the local pharmacy? Perhaps a quick consult with a nurse at a Minute Clinic?
How about a state-of-the-art, first-of-its-kind health and wellness center situated amid Starbucks, Banana Republic, and other upscale strip mall retailers – in the middle of Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania?
Capital Blue is an innovative effort by Capital Blue Cross to reach one community with basic health and wellness services. It may sound a bit off the charts, but as Donna Lencki, Capital BC Chief Marketing Officer explained at Monday’s session on consumer engagement at the World Health Care Congress in Washington, DC, “we look at the retail location as an opportunity to engage our members, our consumers, or our community in a different fashion.”
As with any upscale store, Lencki said the emphasis is on customer service. The 6,700 square-foot space and prime location provide an opportunity to potentially reach some 650,000 residents within a 30 minute drive. “It’s a perfect opportunity to think about how we’re going to work with tomorrow’s consumer,” she said. The emphasis on health and wellness in the retail store aligns with the company’s overall mission of improving the health of their members, and of the community.
Creating the right environment was critical. Lencki showed off the warm, modern space: a concierge desk welcomes “customers,” visitors are directed to appropriate areas to consult with a nurse “care guide,” or registered dietician, check in for a special event, attend an educational session, or fitness class. Parents can accompany their children to the Kid’s Zone, a place to play health-oriented educational games on Wii and iPad. Of course, there is also a sales and service center, where consumers can shop for insurance, get updates on health exchanges, or compare costs and quality metrics.
One goal is to make Capital Blue a “destination” whenever families visit the shopping center. “Kids develop an expectation that when they’re at the mall, this is a cool place to stop in and play, all with a good health influences,” Lencki said. The idea is to start them thinking about nutrition and health early in life and carry those habits through to adulthood.
According to Lencki, Capital Blue is the first insurer in the nation to tie a cafe concept to a retail health experience. She said it seemed obvious to make the connection between health and nutrition on premises. They partnered with Rodale, publishers of several national consumer health magazines, and owners of a local catering company specializing in organic, wholesome meals. The cafe also offers cooking demos, and themed healthy cooking classes. “We did a healthy tailgating party class for the Superbowl, we’ve had book signings, and a Valentine’s special on the medicinal effects of dark chocolate,” Lencki said.
There’s also a health-screening area where nurses conduct assessments such as cholesterol screenings, blood pressure and BMI checks. A fitness area offers yoga, tai chi, and boot camp classes for adults, as well as yoga classes for children. Community meeting rooms are available for family counseling sessions, and there’s even an art gallery featuring local artists who display and sell their work. It’s another way to support all facets of well-being. “Studies show that art can aid in our mental health and healing process,” Lencki told the audience.
We know we have to be creative with health reform when it comes to consumer engagement, she said. This space creates a different level of engagement across the entire spectrum of members, consumers, and community.
It’s only been a few months since launch, but if this concept proves viable, don’t be surprised if the mall becomes the hip destination for health.