Whole Foods Medical, Competitive Wellness and Rutabagas

Rutabaga against white background Future-thinkers who imagined “healthcare reform” as a move toward socialized medicine in the US may not have anticipated the weight of response from (previously) non-healthcare capitalists.

The well-established chain of Whole Foods Markets has long been a grassroots evangelist for natural and healthy foods. And they may be another enterprise entry in the increasingly competitive healthcare delivery arena once reserved for doctors.

Traditional providers—physicians, medical groups, hospitals—have all been feeling the heat of new entries as they lose market share to Walmart, Walgreens, CVS, walk-in clinics and similar national retailers. Practitioners continue to be challenged to differentiate themselves, particularly at the family and general practice level, where big-box medicine holds convenience and cost advantages.

Whole Foods jumps in with both feet…

The retail grocery natural-niche that Whole Foods occupies has always appealed to a health-conscious and wellness-minded audience…and that’s a significant reason why their ideas—still in the developmental, “brainstorming” stage—are likely to gain traction quickly.

One idea, according to Bloomberg Business, that Whole Foods co-founder John Mackey is working on is a “weight loss and nutrition camp for employees and customers. It’s based on a program called Total Health Immersion, a weeklong clinic that Whole Foods employees can attend for free, where they undergo medically supervised testing, group discussions with nutritionists, and cooking classes. Mackey wants Whole Foods to offer Total Health Immersion to customers as a healthful weekend getaway.”

The other idea is a Whole Foods medical clinic. The concept would be oriented first to employees and eventually—perhaps—rolled out to customers. “’Health care is so broken in America,’” Mackey says. “If we allow markets to work, if we allow entrepreneurs to get in here and do things like I’m talking about doing, we will pretty much solve the health-care problem in a generation.’”

Are health plans driving for the retail-medical explosion?

The increasing number of non-traditional (retail) entrants among providers may, in part, be due to the rise of high-deductable health plans. “As these plans become more common, pharmacy chains and big box retailers are taking a greater interest in expanding their healthcare provider capacities,” the Direct Primary Care Journal anticipated over a year ago.

Whole Foods and many others have an open-field run at the health- and value-conscious consumer. “The rise of high-deductible health plans means more consumers will be on the hook for much of their medical costs…[and] as these high-deductible plans become more common, traditional retailers such as CVS Caremark, are taking a greater interest in expanding their healthcare provider capacities.”

Healthcare delivery’s harsh business reality is that no one can afford to underestimate or ignore the competition today. For an in-depth look at this topic—and how it applies to your situation—download our free report, How to Win Patients Despite Intense Competition.

Lonnie Hirsch 

Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer & Creative Director at Healthcare Success
Over the years Stewart has personally marketed and consulted for over 1,457 healthcare clients, ranging from private practices to multi-billion dollar corporations. Additionally, he has marketed a variety of America’s leading companies, including Citicorp, J. Walter Thompson, Grubb & Ellis, Bally Total Fitness, Wells Fargo and Chase Manhattan. Stewart co-founded our company, and today acts as Chief Executive Officer and Creative Director. He is also a frequent author and speaker on the topic of healthcare marketing. His personal accomplishments are supported by a loving wife and two beautiful daughters.



Your proposal will include:

Competitor Intel Icon
Competitor Intel
Recommendations Icon
Our Pricing Icon
Our Pricing

...and much more!

“Despite practicing in a hyper-competitive market, our new-patient counts are double what they were for the same time period last year. Hiring Healthcare Success was one of the best business decisions I have ever made.”

Headshot of Jonathan Calure
– Jonathan Calure, MD

List of recent conversions