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Sears, Wellness, and Communities...what if?

. PeteW

I caught wind of an interesting Award and idea competition being sponsored by Philips. It's called the Livable Cities Award.

It's an effort aimed at improving the health and well being people living in cities. Individuals, communities, (non-government) organizations, and businesses were asked for ideas on simple solutions to improve people's health and well being in a city. One overall winning idea from any of the three submission categories will receive a grant of €75,000, while the two additional ideas will receive grants of €25,000.

Hmmm. If I'm not mistaken, Sears is the largest retailer in the U.S. for health and fitness equipment like treadmills. Health and wellness are particular areas that are growing in importance and impact as people move from being passive consumers of healthcare to proactive "prosumers" who are seeking ways to prevent health problems or change their behavior to regain control in their lives.

Witness the popularity of TV like 'The Biggest Loser' and even the Friday fitness gatherings at State Street here at UX Sears. One of the most critical factors that "The Biggest Loser" and much research for healthcare behavior shows is that healthcare and wellness is social. Who you hang out with and what they eat and do impacts what you eat and do. If you want to affect an individual, focus on their family. If you want to affect a city, focus on communities.

In fact, Mayo clinic is focused on just that. In Austin, MN, Mayo is designing the concept of 'medical home' so that all pieces of a community services and offerings can be used together to improve the overall health and well being. This is a three year experiment to see if a community based 'medical home' model can be piloted and proven out as a sustainable way to design healthcare. Hmmm...

What if a retailer played a role in helping people make better healthcare decisions? Could a retailer help connect people to their healthcare providers, and value chain partners, to help people (as consumers and patients) to better manage their health?

Since we have Kmart pharmacy, MyGofer delivery, mobile apps, fitness products, products that can track personal health and behavior (activity, distance, speed, etc.), wouldn't a retailer who could help a person connect these into an integrated wellness model be in a real position to actually change behavior? If a retailer could shift from tasks (refill prescriptions, track orders, etc.) to goals (help people remember to take their medication or take it properly, help people to share their exercise results with their support group...) that could change the game. And if that retailer was connected to local merchants and service providers such that they could tailor their offerings around the unique needs of individuals and communities, that retailer could create meaningful and memorable experiences through connecting people across groups (families, communities, providers/partners) to share and achieve goals not otherwise possible.


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