Written by Asher Kaplan-Dailey on Apr 28, 2021
How Tech Giants Will Impact the Future of Healthcare
Big tech giants and other retailers entering into the healthcare market, including Amazon, might be the catalyst hospitals and healthcare systems need to continue building on the quality, retail-like experiences that patients are accustomed to in other aspects of their lives. In order to stave off the “Amazon-effect,” more and more companies are offering the digital experiences consumers crave, and with the recent launch of Amazon Care, we should expect even more demand for better digital experiences. Amazon is just one of the many retail and technology giants that are impacting the industry and drawing more attention to the broader trend of consumerization in the future of care.
A New Approach To Healthcare
Like AWS before it, Amazon Care takes a business-cost and spins it into a business opportunity, reducing costs and disrupting the healthcare industry while providing convenience to the patient. We live in a world where consumers have been conditioned to expect immediate and instant gratification. But the healthcare industry has yet to catch up, and is often bogged down by inefficient processes, especially with regard to payments and digital experiences.
Traditional Paper Statements vs. a Retail-Like Payment Experience
Today, you can pay your phone bill by sending a text message to your cellular provider, so why can’t you do the same for your annual health checkup? Retailers and technology companies understand consumer needs and are constantly adjusting their strategies accordingly. More importantly, they are able to step back and look at the healthcare industry from different lenses, which is excellent because they are driving lower-cost options for patients and “breaking the mold” of the healthcare system. Health systems and healthcare providers in general should begin thinking through how to connect with partners that help them drive loyalty and digital engagement that will allow them to create lasting patient loyalty in the midst of a flurry of new competitors.
Amazon May Be Diving In Head First, But Expect to See Google, Microsoft and More Continue to Invest in Disrupting the Healthcare Space
Healthcare has traditionally been behind the curve in being proactive, digitally enabled, and adopting changes based consumer and patient preferences, often due to more restrictive regulations than seen in other technology and retail industries. As future generations enter the healthcare arena, we need these digital options to stay relevant with prospective patients and consumers. In reality, the U.S. healthcare industry is a $3.5 trillion market with uneven profit margins.
While the innovation brought by traditionally digital-first retailers may be viewed as an existential threat to health systems, it may also just be the spark the industry needs to catalyze a significant change to the process. Within the majority of current hospitals and health systems the reality is that the patient financial engagement experience is still manual, and process heavy, unfortunately with patients as the ones who pay the ultimate price.
Over the next few years, we expect to see technology companies continue to partner with providers to drive improved patient financial engagement and experience, ensuring a more retail-like experience for billing and healthcare payments.
Adapting to The Demand for A Better User Experience
Marc Andreessen famously wrote that “[s]oftware is eating the world,” in response to a potential technology bubble. While this has presented different benefits for the industries technology has directly affected, it is likely to present as a win for patients looking for low-cost ways to be healthy and receive the quality healthcare services they need. Everybody likes choices, but nobody likes surprises. With greater price transparency and secure data-sharing through digital solutions, technology companies are able to partner with healthcare experts to leverage the technical background to streamline processes and give patients the top-quality care at a lower cost.
Customer loyalty is generated through better overall experiences, and quality of care is often the first thing that comes to mind in this regard, but what we often fail to realize is that care delivery is only one part of the patient journey, and only one factor influencing satisfaction. Just as important, and often more frustrating and time consuming, is the financial experience. While care may vary by doctor, all hospitals and health systems have the ability to up level their billing and payment processes, and in turn increase loyalty, through technology partners that simplify the process and provide a more comprehensive and intuitive patient (user) experience.
Over the past decade, the retail industry has perfected the way we shop and pay for goods. From transparent pricing, to card-on-file technologies, to flexible payment options and financing plans, the most successful companies have updated their offerings to provide customers with the frictionless experience that they want. Unfortunately, the general lack of convenience within the healthcare industry has forced some consumers to turn to other industries for their medical needs. The world’s most successful brands provide customers with the frictionless experience they want, and it’s time for healthcare to follow suit. Overall, the healthcare industry will need to continue to evolve its digital first approach to ultimately provide the best patient experience possible. By identifying the pain points and investing in technologies and processes to overcome them, the healthcare industry can provide a tailored experience that drives patient engagement and ultimately, patient loyalty.