According to this article in USA Today, the worlds of retail and healthcare are beginning to merge together. It’s more than idea-swapping and brainstorming, implementing the core business concepts of retail into healthcare might actually be the streamlining catalyst that spurs the next paradigm shift in medicine.

For example, the efficiency of retail clinics is resonating with the most affected demographic: the seniors. Retail clinic visits from senior citizens have grown from 8 percent in 2006 to 18 percent in 2009. That number has continued to grow as preventative care became easier to access. The shortened waiting times and sheer convenience make retail clinics the next big thing to happen to pharmacies since Walgreens was incepted.

Now, this effects private practitioners in one major way. Retail clinics are becoming a paradigm in healthcare, which will influence the way patients expect to be cared for in any medical setting. Patients won’t just want to be cared for, they’ll want a curated and one-stop-shop experience when they step into your lobby. This isn’t to say that you have to start selling Tylenol in your waiting room, but it does underline the importance of always keeping an ear open to your patients’ demands. Retailers curate their customer’s experience so expertly, they can bank on their customers finding exactly what they were looking for. Practitioners would be wise to approach their patients the same way.

At the boardroom level, veterans of the retail business are actually jumping over to healthcare to help answer the hardboiled questions from the ongoing shift in healthcare. It’ll be interesting to track how the natives of marketing agencies and business schools do as they teach doctors how to engage with current and potential patients.

All the market research and paradigms these retailers bring are going to be valuable roadmaps when navigating post-ACA healthcare. For instance, it might be time to start reading up on business publications and see if you can’t use some of their customer service tips to improve patient engagement in your own practice.

Because as we all know as we approach Stage II of the Meaningful Use Credit, patient engagement really is the next hurdle for all doctors to jump.