Pop-up store in Roermond explores the role of retail in healthcare innovation

12 May 2023
Healthcare is facing a major challenge in the coming years, namely preventing a so-called "healthcare crisis." Due to the doubling number of people in need of care without a proportional increase in available healthcare providers, a critical situation is looming. A different perspective on healthcare Lucien Engelen, Global Strategist Digital Health for the Deloitte Center for the Edge, advocated in the April issue of ICT&health in 2022 for a different perspective on our healthcare system, with ample opportunities for a healthier future: The Future of Health. Engelen identifies three themes that can reinforce each other: personalized care (Future of Health), nutrition (Future of Food), and shopping (Future of Retail). With the latter, the digital expert also refers to physical, offline stores: the neighborhood supermarket, the drugstore in the city center. Deloitte has conducted research on the role that retail can play in addressing the challenges faced by healthcare. The brand-new study shows that partially shifting healthcare interventions to the retail domain, among others, offers a potential solution to alleviate the pressure on our healthcare system. Patients increasingly expect flexibility and personalization in the healthcare services provided. Additionally, offering less complex interventions in a retail environment gives hospitals more space to focus on complex interventions.

Providing healthcare in a low-threshold manner

Therefore, there is a need for a greater emphasis on providing healthcare in a low-threshold manner. By making simple health services, such as blood pressure measurement, available through multiple providers, the pressure on general practitioners and hospitals can be reduced. The vision of Engelen and Deloitte is now coming together in the city center of Roermond. Starting from May 12th, research is being conducted on future health concepts and the role of downtown entrepreneurs. In the heart of Roermond's shopping district, Steenweg 25 has transformed into an exploration center called 'Roermond Healthy 2030.' The shopping public can share their opinions on suitable health concepts in this pop-up store. Together with medical specialists, entrepreneurs, council members, and other professional groups and organizations, the space is used to explore the delocalization of certain healthcare activities.

Multiple uses for the pop-up store

For example, can a local restaurant entrepreneur offer a healthier menu? Can the pharmacy also provide other forms of care? Because downtown entrepreneurs have many moments of interaction with customers, according to the initiator of the exploration center, it offers opportunities to also provide certain healthcare services. The pop-up store will also be used by researchers from Maastricht UMC+, Maastricht University, and Zuyd University of Applied Sciences. The ambition is to bring the exploration center, in a modified form, to the Donderberg district and the Designer Outlet for different perspectives during this exploration phase. Roermond has an (international) first with the exploration center, and various municipalities and regions, both domestically and internationally, have already shown interest in this approach, according to Lucien Engelen, who is behind the initiative. Engelen is the CEO of Transform.Health and a strategist at Laurentius Hospital. Engelen managed to engage various parties in education, health insurers, government agencies, healthcare providers, and the business sector to be involved in this initiative. "Together with this growing group of partners, a plan is being developed to ensure that the concept can have a lasting, positive impact on local businesses and the community," said Engelen.