According to PwC, more than half of consumers want to shop for health care, but their preferred method of doing so doesn’t exist yet. This is true even in an age where most people have “always on, wherever, whenever, and however” access to information, products, and services across industries--but not with finding, getting, and assessing health care.
It seems that time has stood still. That’s in the process of changing, as patients and health-care consumers of all types bring their radically increased expectations of experience, transparency, and access to the $2.8 trillion and growing U.S. health-care market.
In response to these and other trends, the health-care industry is feverishly working to redesign delivery systems to better get, serve, and keep this fast-growing class of smart, empowered customers.
But most of these changes are transactional in nature--things like checking claims, setting appointments, or finding “in-network” physicians. But this isn’t nearly enough. As patients bring their Amazon-fueled expectations to their health-care experience, they will increasingly demand innovation in the ways care is delivered and managed.
Which is why, as the center of gravity begins what promises to be a slow shift toward patients, innovations such as these will be changing the business of health care and challenging the status quo for health-care delivery systems and their patients:
1. Telemedicine, so you can talk with a real doctor on your schedule, wherever you are: Just now taking hold, telemedicine services like the popular Doctor on Call app from Oscar Health are allowing patients to get expert medical opinions on-demand from the comfort of their own homes. Doctor on Demand is another. These and others are challenging the status quo by creating greater access and affordability in health care for consumers and businesses alike.
2. Doc-in-a-robot-shaped-box, so your doctor can see you, without actually being with you: Taking a page from the telepresence “robots” like Beam that allow workers to wander around the office without actually being in the office, iRobot has received clearance from the FDA for the poorly named RP-VITA (the name exudes a nice warm bedside manner, doesn’t it?) to operate autonomously in the hospital, making it easier to provide continuous patient monitoring.
3. Finally, “concierge medicine” for the masses: For a modest $149 annual subscription fee, One Medical offers members primary care services designed around patient needs. Slightly higher-end services like MDVip--around $1,800 a year--are available as well. Offering radical experiences like same-day appointments and online scheduling, primary health care starts to feel a bit better, with their goals--healthy patients--actually aligned with yours.
4. Trust but verify. Second opinion services improve confidence and provide peace of mind. You hope: When you hear stats like this one from Your Doctors Online (that 68% of people seeking a second medical opinion had a change in their treatment plans), the value of that second opinion goes up--fast. Services from firms like this and Grand Rounds make it easier than ever to get second opinions for complicated diseases and diagnoses, improving patient experience and confidence in treatment choices.
5. Your health data and your health: Given the complexity associated with health-related data, it’s little wonder that delivery systems like Kaiser are embracing big data as a tool to improve health care. But for most of us, our health data is a mystery. Though in its infancy, I see the coming of personalized health apps (like marrying Apple HealthKit with Jawbone UP) giving each of us the ability to store and manage our personal health data in new, exciting, and empowering ways.
We recognize that health care is an exceedingly complex ecosystem (some would say rat’s nest) of competing priorities and embedded legacy systems. But examples like those above as well as the promise of other technologies--such as ingestible sensors and handheld melanoma scanners taking the place of biopsies--have the potential to radically reshape patient experience, a patient's access to medical care, and the quality of health care in the years to come.
As greater customer demand for a better experience comes to health care--just as it is coming to every industry--laggards will be left wondering what happened as, once again, experience leaders reap the rewards of better margins, greater efficiencies, and more and more loyal patients.
This article builds on some of the ideas published in the 2012 book “Smart Customers, Stupid Companies” I co-wrote with Bruce Kasanoff. And yes, the ideas are also based on the knowledge we’ve gained working with companies around the world to improve customer experience. And one thing we’ve had the pleasure of observing is how innovation in one industry can come to another. So as with the recent article on innovation in the insurance industry, I hope you enjoy thinking about ways these kinds of things could apply to your business and to your customers.
See what the Twitterverse is saying about customer-centricity: