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The Consumer “Health Experience”

Our society has evolved to the point of “experiences”. No longer is there a simple purchase in any industry. Purchasing a product or service has become an “experience”. Perhaps Steve Jobs can be credited with formalizing the experience approach at Apple. Whether product design, end to end software/hardware control, marketing, store design, online experiences, product […]

Our society has evolved to the point of “experiences”. No longer is there a simple purchase in any industry. Purchasing a product or service has become an “experience”.

Perhaps Steve Jobs can be credited with formalizing the experience approach at Apple. Whether product design, end to end software/hardware control, marketing, store design, online experiences, product packaging and even re-inventing the way the world bought music, Jobs was in absolute control of the consumer experience.

This philosophy now extends to almost every consumer encounter. Simply think of Home Depot, Apple, Southwest, Amazon.com, eBay, Verizon, the Department of Motor Vehicles…images immediately come to mind, some positive and rewarding, some, not so much.

Now consider “healthcare”. What images come to the average consumers’ mind? Do they immediately think of their “favorite” health system/hospital? Their primary care physician?  A retail clinic? The medications they’re taking? Fitness/wellness/health? Sickness, illness, aging? Out of control costs? Clipboards?  Chaos?  The images are varied and largely influenced by the most recent encounter or shaped by their own expectations based on what they have heard and read.

The consumer health experience is undefined and likely grounded in a strong negative foundation of cost and inefficiency. Given the size and fragmentation of the industry the health experience is also widely inconsistent.

As the dialogue around “consumer-centric care” and “patient engagement” continues to escalate, the industry must collectively chart the course for the consumer health experience.

There are two primary dimensions of the consumer health experience: the functionality across the entire industry and the experience provided by a specific entity.  The individual entity is responsible for defining the nature of the consumer experience within their domain. How do they want to be known by their consumers?

However, the overall industry experience sets the tone for every entity providing a product or service. It is very difficult for any single entity to successfully “sell” into a market where the consumers’ primary perspective is negative. Providers, payors, labs, pharma, information technology – all the supporting characters must make a conscious decision to collaborate in the interest of the health consumer.  It is time to recognize that when selling into a consumer market where the consumers’ general perception of the industry is of cost, inefficiency and chaos – everyone loses.

So what can be done at an industry level to embrace consumers and create a consumer friendly health industry? Operate as an eco-system as opposed to silo-centric competitors. The consumer expectation in the 21st century is simplicity and efficiency. “Don’t make me think” is a point of view. Plug in and it works – whatever “it” is.

In healthcare that means data portability/liquidity. Go to a new physician, a specialist – your health history should be readily available. Purchase a mobile app that requires the input of personal health data – it should be point and click easy. Go for a second or third opinion, diagnostic tests should be passed without having to undergo duplicative testing. Visit a retail clinic, data should flow to the consumers’ health record. And importantly, consistency is essential. Community to community, state to state the consumer encounter has to be consistent and reliable. The examples are endless; the implications, not only satisfied consumers but also a more efficient industry – everyone wins.

The requirement – leadership.  Across all sectors, entities that are willing to “be first” and set a new generation of healthcare in motion. Entities that usher in this era will be richly rewarded in a consumer-centric market.

While Apple may have the luxury of completely controlling the consumer experience end to end, healthcare as an industry does not. No one entity controls the entire experience. Therefore, collaboration to build a consumer friendly experience is essential.

As Steve Jobs has said “you’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back to the technology”. As an industry, we must achieve this outcome.