Big Box Stores Versus Independent Retail

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We all know the stereotypical differences between the two. Probably the biggest lies in the “customer experience where most customers feel they get a more personalized touch when shopping from a smaller independent store. Big box stores tend to try and be all things to all people whereas smaller independent stores focus on a few items or services that they are passionate about and feel they can “do” better than anyone else. Big box businesses tend to focus on quantity over quality.

Despite its growth in recent years, SunCloud Health is committed to retaining its “smaller independent” type feel at its four treatment centers throughout Chicago area for mental health and addiction treatment. Our obsession with providing our patients, their families, their referral sources and their payers with exceptional quality and service is paramount to our success. We know what we do well and what we don’t do as well. We want to serve those we can help and let others handle the ones we can’t. Growth is fun but we do not strive to be the biggest health system on the block. Rather we take far greater pride in the quality we provide.

From the first phone call to us our patients and their families tell us they experience something different and unique. We spend as much time with them on the phone as they need, answering their questions and helping them decide if SunCloud might be a good fit (or not) worthy of scheduling an initial evaluation. We are not interested in funneling patients in the door regardless of whether we have the tools to help them. We spend quite a bit of time upfront ensuring we help steer people our way only if we think we can help.

Our intake process for our adolescents is particularly unique. Most initial evaluations are done by one of our full-time child and adolescent psychiatrists and most we can schedule within 48 hours of an initial phone call. Our doctors visit with our adolescents and their families sometimes for two hours. Having one of our doctors do the evaluation gives families peace of mind that we are optimally assessing their child’s medical and clinical needs as we seek to determine if and how we might be a good fit for them and their family. We often ask for labs and sometimes other medical information to make sure we are seeing the whole picture. If a patient has a therapist, a psychiatrist and or a family practice doctor, we will ask for permission to speak with them to gather important collateral information.

The larger “big box” treatment centers generally have a master’s level clinical do the assessment and the decision to admit is made within the hour. They cannot afford to have a doctor do every one of their assessments, as they do dozens a day. At SunCloud we take our time and allocate our best resources to ensure we make the right clinical decision for our patients.

Throughout treatment the differences between us and the larger facilities continue to be evident. Our groups are capped at 10 people; our doctors and therapists carry relatively low caseloads compared to other (larger) facilities and our care team works together to ensure our patients and their families get the attention they need from us throughout treatment. We see our commitment to quality of care tightly tied to customer service, and we focus on both throughout the treatment episode.

SunCloud is not small. We currently have 3 outpatient locations throughout Chicago (Naperville, Northbrook, and Chicago) providing IOP and PHP for adults and adolescents and 21 adult residential beds in Northbrook (growing to 42 this fall). And we have more coming soon! We have grown organically over the past 6.5 years never needing to take capital from an outside source to fund operations and always with a very strong medical team first and foremost. Our reputation drives most referrals and our patients come from all over the country to receive treatment from us, either because they are drawn to our integrated treatment model or because they know someone who has received care from us.

While some institutions like Mayo and Cleveland Clinic have seemingly mastered the art of “big box” medical institutions, doing so in mental health and addiction treatment has thus far proven more elusive. And this is not who we are trying to be. We are proud of where we are at in our development as an institution about remaining more like a smaller retail store than a big box store. We commit to all our patients and staff that “this” is where we intend to stay.