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Analysis

Physicians at the Point of Sale Here to Stay

Wed, 09/09/2015 - 11:08

Medical offices adjacent to private pharmacies are now a very convenient option for a broad segment of the Mexican population, which sees them as offering major advantages when compared to private clinics and public institutions. This has led to improved access for people who did not receive any professional medical assistance before.

Despite gaining widespread favor, there are many issues surrounding physicians at the point of sale. Concerns have arisen as to what type of patients seek such services, whether the doctors are receiving commercial pressure to sell certain drugs, and whether they are really helping to improve people’s health. With the continuous rise of this model, IMS Health’s research team in Mexico conducted market research to define the profile of patients visiting medical offices within or adjacent to private pharmacies, to identify their reasons for visiting them, and to determine their possible migration from other medical attention centers.

Contrary to theories suggesting most people who visit these medical offices belong to a low socioeconomic status, IMS Health’s research revealed that people with high socioeconomic status represent almost a third of all visits, and that the most significant share was comprised by middle-income people. Those below 30 years of age represented 50% of the patients and the most frequent reasons for consultation were gastrointestinal complaints and respiratory diseases. Therefore, a very important part of this profile includes economically active people who require medical attention for mild symptoms but have little flexibility in their work hours.

Before physicians were commonplace inside pharmacies, 40% of patients would visit private doctors, while a similar proportion would ask for recommendations from pharmacy employees, relatives, and friends, or would buy known drugs previously prescribed for similar conditions. At the time, the price of a medical consultation was the primary reason for patients to abandon visits to private doctors, while a lack of time and distance came in second and third place. For those visiting public institutions, long waiting times were the most significant motivation to visit medical offices adjacent to the point of sale, even though treatment at public institutions is free. The cost of medical consultations next to the point of sale ranges from MX$0-40.

Most patients who participated in this study had visited medical offices adjacent to private pharmacies before, indicating they are becoming loyal to this service – both to the physician and the business model. This is not surprising as patients evaluated physicians’ knowledge, their cordiality, and the overall experience with the highest rates among the options available.

This immediate attention at the point of sale model is convenient for people and their budgets. It suits their lifestyle very well and fulfills a need that was not previously properly addressed in the market. Finally, it deserves the attention of producers and sellers in the healthcare industry in Mexico seeking to make more accurate strategic decisions.