By Rocco Salviola
For as long as I can remember, healthcare has been a word not open to redefinition, nor susceptible to the influence of the consumer. We as a society believed that protecting the autonomy of the physician was mandated and thus not open to the inclusion of a consumer. Yet, with the stroke of a pen amidst a country divided, on March 23, 2010, the word “healthcare” was redefined for all time. Regardless of your position on the Affordable Care Act, one thing is agreed upon by all: A paradigm shift is happening in healthcare, and the patient is a sought-after consumer.
The mad rush to consumerism is not only a reality; it has become a mantra that will not be silenced. The user experience in healthcare has been picked up by a black SUV ordered at the touch of a button from the likes of Uber. It’s been predicated on the “point and click” retail experience created by Amazon. And all will be interconnected by the universe-changing power of Apple. In the back seat of that black SUV is a new kind of patient—one who’s seen the light—one who’s traveling through a landscape of industries that have embraced technology, information, and innovation as the building blocks for services and products that streamline transactions, eliminate hassles, and delight consumers.
Farewell to Mediocrity
No longer will patients accept mediocre as normal, complexity as the standard, and disjointed as the outcome. This new patient has been empowered by experiences with companies that have put consumers at the forefront, and made knowing their constituents the very oxygen they breath.
The shift to consumerism in healthcare has taken center stage. A new dawn is upon us where the healthcare ecosystem will not only be interconnected, it will reward success and penalize failure. Benefits will be disbursed when the patient is satisfied, and transparency will lead to falling costs and rising quality. This is not merely a call to action, but rather a necessary cultural shift that requires the healthcare ecosystem to reflect the expectations set by other industries and demanded by their purchasers. To achieve this drastic change in the experience of healthcare, we must go beyond understanding population health management: We must infuse our thinking and knowledge with the lifestyle and behavior components of said population.
The New Business Model for Healthcare
The healthcare ecosystem of tomorrow must be a living, breathing organism that responds intuitively, and in real time, to the needs of all. It must be powered by a central nervous system that integrates the information it receives, embodies complex rules of engagement, and coordinates and influences the activities of all. The new ecosystem I speak of is a reality: It is becoming a prospective, predictive, personalized, and highly coordinated empowerment vehicle that attains optimal results in the most efficient manner for patients, payers, and providers.
A new business model is upon us, and it’s moving at warp speed. It will have its base in economics as we begin to build it with bricks of innovation, data and analytics, as well as engines that drive actionable intelligence and connection. We are forced to ask ourselves: What is our role and our value in this new world? How will we know our constituents? And how will we engage them at the right time—in the right way—with the right solution? Just like Uber, which redefined livery, or Apple, which went from computers to smartphones, or Amazon, which began by selling books online to become a one-stop shop for everything—we in healthcare must respond with the same degree of innovation and genius to survive and thrive.
The Affordable Care Act has done for healthcare what Thomas Edison’s lightbulb did for utilities: They illuminated the need for a new delivery model. This new model for healthcare will serve as the greatest, most life-changing business opportunity of our lifetime. To capitalize on this opportunity, we must respond to a new call to action from the consumers we serve.
This is my “Norma Rae” moment. I’m standing on a table in the middle of the healthcare factory, holding up a one-word sign: Consumerism. How else can we create a system that is incentivized to inform, influence, and inspire the patient, payer, and provider, even as it empowers each to attain health and operational excellence?
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