At the National Conference on Health, Productivity and Human Capital on Friday, officials from the Target Corporation’s health care and medical divisions said that spurring engagement — be it with health care participants and their plans or customers walking down an aisle — hinges on innovation.

Speaking in Washington at the National Business Group on Health’s 26th NCHPHC event, John Holcomb, vice president of Target’s health care operations, and Dr. Kevin Ronneberg, its associate medical director, said the most basic of business models (namely, asking people what they want and then giving it to them) results in the most appreciated changes.

“There’s lots of options, lots of choices [and] lots of implications,” Holcomb said, adding that “simplicity is the insight that starts us on the path to engagement.”

“We really want to seek that balance between choice and simplicity,” Ronneberg agreed. “Experience matters,” he said, adding that in terms of repeat customers, it almost more important to have a positive experience than solid results.

In terms of health care retail, Target has embraced its solution center display technique of grouping related products and services. Thus it isn’t just allergy medications that are all together on one aisle; the air filters have a home there, too. Someone who comes looking to purchase a blood-pressure cuff will find vitamins and low-sodium foods.

“Innovate the everyday,” Holcomb said, and never underestimate participant feedback. A lot of people hate hypodermic syringes, for example, so Target has developed one with a far shorter, less imposing needle, and sales of flu shots are up.

“It needs to be fun and inspirational not just to be fun; we actually see increased engagement,” Ronneberg said. He added that “modeling is often the most effective way of instituting behavior change,” which is one of the reasons that the chain no longer carries tobacco products, encouraging people to stop smoking by example.

“We’re trying to change the culture at Target and have it be more of a health movement rather than specific initiatives,” Ronneberg said.

Stick with InBrief this week to read more from the National Conference on Health, Productivity and Human Capital.

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