Healthcare services in retail spaces a possible solution for Europe

14 May 2023 4 min. read
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With the pool of patients continuing to grow, European healthcare services will likely soon be faced with difficulties in keeping up with the demand for medical interventions. According to a study from Deloitte, Europeans are increasingly open to the idea of healthcare services being offered in retail spaces.

Spreading out the availability of medical intervention to ubiquitous locations like pharmacies and even supermarkets is an idea that could help European countries meet the increasing demand for healthcare services.

An aging population and the expectation that healthcare costs will rise further is a worry for European countries, where healthcare is mostly subsidized. A worker shortage and limited capacities at hospitals and clinics have added to need to innovate.

Healthcare services in retail spaces a possible solution for Europe

Those who were most willing to seek medical care at retail locations were younger than 44 years old – young, mainly healthy, and more likely to use devices like heart rate monitors or step counters. Preventative care, seen as a great way to address health issues early on and avoid more sick people later down the line, would be a focus for quick and simple visits at the relatively limited health services that could be offered at retail spaces.

The report notes that “many European consumers would welcome increased convenience and reduced friction in their healthcare experiences. There is a clear consumer need, and thus there is an opportunity to relieve pressure from the current healthcare system while creating opportunities for retailers.”

Respondents in Ireland, the UK, and to some extent Poland were the most comfortable with receiving certain types of health services at retail locations. They were more willing to receive relatively minor interventions like receiving a prescription, getting eyes or ears tested, getting vaccinated, and being monitored for things like blood pressure and cholesterol.

Healthcare services in retail spaces a possible solution for Europe

A majority of respondents ranked pharmacies as the favored location for expanded medical services. A focus on hygiene on location, which respondents saw as one of the most important criteria, is a potential advantage for pharmacies. The clinical and neat environment of pharmacies, together with the presence of knowledgeable professionals, makes them an obvious favorite.

Health and wellness stores were in second place as the most favored retail environment for health services. It makes sense for healthcare interventions to be offered from these medicine and health-focused brick and mortars, though supermarkets are also a potential location for expanded services.

Supermarkets are perhaps the most ubiquitous of all the retail locations included in the survey. The potential for additional healthcare services to be available on nearly every street corner make grocery locations potentially promising. Respondents, however, were not as keen on this option.

Moving healthcare services to retail locations could be seen as part of a growing trend towards privatizing healthcare, a mostly unpopular move in Europe. In the UK, a formidable 87% of respondents to a YouGov survey said that they are most proud of the National Health Service (NHS), an exemplary public healthcare system.

It should be noted that many of the minor healthcare services included in the survey are already available at retail locations, to some extent. Eyesight testing is widely available in eyeglass retail stores, blood pressure monitoring is offered in pharmacies in the UK, and Covid-19 vaccinations were widely administered by pharmacists in Ireland, France, and other European countries.

At-home care is another healthcare area that is expected to grow in recent years and could help alleviate some of the stress on healthcare services. A recent study found that up to 45% of healthcare services may be delivered at home in the next five years.