Amazon is making a concerted push into health—a move often cited as the next step in achieving Jeff Bezos’ long-standing vision for Amazon to be the world’s most customer-centric company and to play a role in every facet of consumers’ lives. One recent announcement is that Amazon is teaming with Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan to form an independent healthcare company “free from profit-making incentives and constraints” for their U.S. employees.
Stepping back, healthcare marketers should take note of a larger trend—one which Amazon stands to accelerate—that we call “healthification.”
People are changing, and so are their expectations of healthcare companies—how they define them, what they want from them, and where they will spend their money. They are bringing the worlds of health, wellness, and lifestyle beneath the same umbrella, which means the involvement of brands from additional industries. As consumers take this more holistic view, a new world of opportunities is opening for traditional and nontraditional companies.
To better understand what they are, let’s envision what the healthcare experience might look like in five to 10 years.
After receiving a prescription from the doctor, a person, using his mobile device while still in the parking lot, links his electronic prescription to his health portal. He is immediately presented with information about the medication, such as a list of similar generics and charts comparing side effects, prices, and customer ratings and reviews. The platform also offers a central repository for all of this individual’s health information, including insurance, doctor visits, and lab results, so it instantaneously scans for insurance coverage and drug interactions.
Once this person feels confident in his medication, he places an order for drone delivery later that day. Then he looks through some recommendations the platform has curated around his condition and healthy living—suggested readings, a local yoga class, a recommended wearable, a nutritious grocery delivery service, and more.
When this person arrives home, he sets up reminders on his digital assistant to take his medication at the right times. The assistant notes the medication instructions and will remind the person to take his medicine with food. It also books a weeklong trial at the local yoga studio and orders some new workout clothes.
The person goes to bed that night, confident in the medication he is taking and enthusiastic about the changes he has made for a healthier lifestyle. He is empowered by the entire experience.
Some big-picture takeaways for marketers:
- “Healthification” is broadening the world of possibilities: Health and wellness touches every aspect of consumers’ lives. Marketers would be wise to have a clear understanding of how their brands fit in and the roles they could play within this larger ecosystem. Like Amazon, there is no need to stay in a brand’s traditional lanes.
- The future is personal: Worthy of emulation, Amazon wins through customer experience, personal convenience, and selection. This builds traffic volume to its properties, enabling it to build customer intelligence and to cross-sell, continually connecting with and expanding customer relationships through personalized product recommendations and services.
- Data is “the world’s most valuable resource”: In the words of the Economist, the world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data. Nowhere is this truer than in health. As Amazon has relentlessly proved, experience is paramount. Its walled garden, behind which it harnesses data and consumer insights and pours them into marketing, is a strategic advantage. Other companies can do the same. As the landscape shifts, expect to see marketers look for unlikely bedfellows to pool data and better compete.
Healthification represents an opportunity for brands, health and otherwise, to become more meaningful, purposeful parts of consumers’ lives. Today, technology enables companies to organize in a completely different way: around real human needs. This is a big challenge for many. In order to be “future-ready,” companies need to act now.