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February 13, 2019

There Goes the Neighborhood

I was in New York last week and found the debate between local Democrat party leaders about Amazon’s new headquarters fascinating.  Some welcome the move into the Queens neighborhood across from Manhattan and the 25,000 high paying jobs it will bring, while others have pronounced it as all sorts of evil for the displacement gentrification will bring to current residents.

When somebody big moves into the neighborhood, things change.  Whether it is good or bad all depends on where your bread is buttered.  Personally, mine is buttered all over.  Don’t judge me.

Speaking of big and loud folks moving in, CVS recently opened three new Health HUB concept stores in the Houston area.  These provide a glimpse into how the 9,600-store retail chain is thinking about its increasing focus on healthcare, starting with the bright red ‘Welcome to the Health HUB’ branding on the front door.

Slow moving retail items have been shuttered to devote more square footage to health and wellness products.  More space means the Minute Clinics can expand services to include phlebotomy, diabetic screening and even sleep apnea assessments.   Pharmacists are expanding their role in patient education; registered dieticians provide one-on-one support and teach onsite classes.

Speaking of which, the space is configured so that areas can be blocked off for yoga classes.  Don’t have a mat?  Don’t worry, they are right over there by the durable medical equipment section.

If this sounds like a lot and maybe a tad confusing, never fear.  The ‘care concierge’ is there to help you get everything you need from your visit to the doctor/pharmacy/health club/lab/grocery store/tire and lube center.  Yep, they are even taking on the Walmart Greeter.

Throw in a separate announcement about CVS’s video visit service ($59 via your smart phone, all major credit cards accepted), which will soon be covered by CVS’s new insurance company once the Aetna acquisition closes, and you start to see what is being cooked up in the board room there in Woonsocket, Rhode Island.

This all begs the question, ‘Who is CVS NOT competing with?’

We could detail out of all the segments of healthcare they are looking to consume, but I think the more interesting angle on all of this is how they are positioning themselves against the aforementioned wheat thrasher from Seattle, another outsider with its sights set on the $3.5 trillion healthcare market. 

Do you really think taking yoga class market share from the local Y matters a whit to the $69 billion-dollar company that CVS will be when the Aetna deal closes?  Please. 

But what does matter are all of those smiling human beings located in the store, right there on your way to work.  This is the opposite of the ubiquitous brown boxes dropped off by the UPS guy.

Oh, and it is pretty different from that big imposing thing called a ‘hospital’ as well.

Yes kids, the neighborhood is changing.

Tim Coan
Tim Coan

CEO and founder

Tim Coan, ALN’s CEO, writes an insightful and witty blog weekly about a variety of topics relevant to independent physician practices.