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Retail market is built for customer loyalty while ‘health care market is not’: Salesforce CMO

Salesforce Chief Medical Officer Geeta Nayyar speaks with Yahoo Finance health care reporter Anjalee Khemlani about retail health sentiment, the future of health care, and health trends going into 2023.

Video Transcript

JARED BLIKRE: And with the rise of telehealth and in-pharmacy vaccinations, the COVID-19 pandemic may have changed health care forever. Yahoo Finance's health reporter Anjalee Khemlani is here with more on this, and she is joined by Geeta Nayyar, Salesforce chief medical officer. Anjalee, take it away.

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: Thank you, Jared, and welcome to the show, Geeta. Really great to have you on. Obviously, as Jared mentioned, looking at what the pandemic did for health care, we know that telehealth was the first sort of upheaval. But retail health really is an interesting point. You know, we've seen CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, just to name a few-- some of these players really getting bigger in the space of providing health care. And that introductory touchpoint may have been getting vaccines during the pandemic. So I want to start off there and just ask you, what do you think, going into 2023, we can expect as sort of the tail end of the COVID impact of this?

GEETA NAYYAR: Well, Anjalee, first, thanks so much for having me on. And what I would say is that it's just the beginning. There has been nothing but a land grab. As you just mentioned, some of those big logos in the retail health space, and the genie cannot be put back in the bottle. Consumers are finding that everyday convenience converging with health care, and health care has been everything but convenient both during the pandemic and before it.

So it's really blending that everyday convenience with that blood pressure check, with that glucose check, and with that pharmacist, that trusted pharmacist in the community that you can walk in any time and ask that question, as we've just lived through a really tough era of misinformation. So consumers are looking for that trusted community, that trusted place. And retailers are looking to build off of that convergence, but still sell that face cream. So while they're selling health care services, it really is about broadening their market share in retail.

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: And I wanted to touch on the sentiment of that because as you pointed out, the trusting part. I think prior to the pandemic, we saw a lot of upturned noses, if you will, at the Minute Clinics and the like. And it seems like, based on a recent "New England Journal of Medicine" article, they saw a survey which showed that there seems to be increased positive sentiment for retail health. As you can see on your screen, 66% improved view of retail health, and 71% see it still as lower quality than primary care.

So there's a shift. There has been some view of it as lower quality than providers, the normal doctor visit, and the global sentiment seems to be a little bit more positive than the US sentiment on it. So talk to me about that and how that really fares for the market for some of these major players.

GEETA NAYYAR: Sure. So look, the retail environment is really the place you want to go to for your low acuity health care. So what do I mean by that? I'm a rheumatologist. I see lupus patients, rheumatoid arthritis patients. These are complicated chronic diseases. The retail health environment is not for those patients. It is, however, for that earache, that upper respiratory infection, that vaccine, that blood pressure check. So the really low acuity health care visit.

And that everyday convenience can't be beaten, right? I would much rather have a consumer go into their local retailer, get their blood pressure checked, rather than ending up in the emergency room with a heart attack. So it is about the right place and the right time, but there is no doubt that the physical proximity of retailers helps enormously. About 90% of the population is within 10 miles of a Walmart. We simply cannot say that about primary care clinics.

So while the quality of a provider visit might be higher, if it's not accessible and it's not convenient, patients aren't going there. And they're certainly not coming back, even if they went once. So it is really about that customer loyalty, and the retail market being built for customer loyalty and the health care market simply is not.

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: How does telehealth fare in all of that? Do we still see a continuation of the momentum we saw last year?

GEETA NAYYAR: So telehealth remains now a staple part of any visit. Customers have found, consumers have found that it's more convenient. Providers are seeing that they are able to integrate the right kind of visit for virtual care. But as my husband says, who's a bladder surgeon, bladder surgery still has to be done in the hospital. So you've got to-- and I say, not yet. Not-- maybe from the living room soon, right?

So we're still learning as a health care industry, but the consumer has accepted telehealth as part of their everyday interaction with the health care system. And the convenience of doing it from your home, doing it from your office, or wherever you need it, is again unbeatable to when we think about the traditional way health care has been delivered in the past.

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: Speaking of that traditional way, let's talk about the providers, because that's a really key piece of this equation. How are they feeling about this shift in consumer sentiment, especially as more and more patients are being viewed as consumers?

GEETA NAYYAR: Well, the heat is on, Anjalee. The heat is on. And providers that are smart are also investing in virtual care, virtual health technologies, and they're looking to partner. If you think about a long tail retail strategy or a long-term provider strategy, partnering with some of these retailers is really important. I mean, look at Best Buy and what Best Buy has done with their connected devices. They want to connect that back to the provider so the provider has a better 360 view of their patients.

I'm all for it. The consumer is all for it. And we are living in a world that is really pushing the paradigm forward in health care. Consumers are saying, if it's not convenient, if it's not accessible, I'm simply not going to go to the doctor's office.

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: Yeah, that's a really good point you brought up about Best Buy. Who knew we were-- we would be talking about that with relation to health care? Geeta Nayyar, chief medical officer of Salesforce. Thank you so much again for joining us today.