Clicks set to launch mobile healthcare
Business Day - Jun 12th 2012, 08:39
Cape Town â€” JSE-listed health and beauty products retailer Clicks has teamed up with healthcare purchaser Health Connects to launch cellphone healthcare vouchers that can be redeemed at its pharmacies, the company announced yesterday.
Clicks is trying to attract more people to shop at its national network of stores by drawing feet to its dispensaries and in-house clinics, targeting low-and middle-income workers who have historically not patronised its business. It has over 400 stores, 300 of which have dispensaries, and more than 110 clinics.
Clicks competes head-on with Dis-Chem and thousands of smaller community pharmacies. It also has rivals in the retail industry, including big players such as Shoprite and Pick â€™n Pay.
The prepaid vouchers, branded Impilo, which is a Nguni word for health or wellbeing, are aimed at people who do not belong to medical schemes.
"Itâ€™s all about giving access to healthcare to those who donâ€™t necessarily have it through the traditional funding models," said Nikki NaudĂ©, head of new business development at Clicks. "They are an absolutely untapped market at the moment: they are either not getting healthcare, or getting at government clinics. They are not aware of what they can get at our clinics," she said.
The vouchers, which are loaded onto a cellphone, are transferrable to other people and can be used to pay for consultations with nurses and over-the-counter medicines at any Clicksâ€™ clinic. They are bought and redeemed in much the same way as prepaid electricity and cellphone airtime.
Ms NaudĂ© said Clicks was targeting people who employed domestic workers and gardeners, employers who could not afford to provide their staff with medical scheme cover, and individuals who wanted to buy healthcare for dependants and relatives in other parts of the country.
Health Connects MD Bradley Soll said: "Healthcare is a complicated transaction (and) we think we can buy healthcare better than most people. We want to pass that on. Our target market is people who are spending out of pocket, which according to our research is about R37bn a year," he said in a telephone interview.
The vouchers are available at Vodacom outlets and Clicks stores. Shoppers can also buy Ukash e-commerce vouchers at Pick â€™n Pay and Shoprite which can then be used to purchase Impilo vouchers, he said.
"We are also finalising an agreement with the South African Post Office," he said.
Health Connects also sells vouchers for over 300 general practitioners and dentists that have joined its network, and plans to expand its business and distribution to include private hospital vouchers, Mr Soll said.
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