Simplicity: Why healthcare brands must break down barriers

The simplicity movement is on the rise, whether it comes in the design of new online platforms or in the simplified language of brands choosing transparency over small print. New approaches both inside and outside the healthcare industry signal that simplification works.

Healthcare, pharmaceutical and insurance companies can solve the needs of consumers by drawing inspiration from some of the most innovative companies in the world, both in and out of the healthcare industry. In this series, we will look at brands that understand the deeper needs and pain points of their consumers—beyond the functional and physical—in order to shine a light on how healthcare companies can create compelling solutions and build powerfully human brands for the good of their patients. Read the first in the series of trends, Empathy here.

In a perfect world, finding a doctor would be easy. In a healthcare paradise, getting medication, knowing prices for procedures and sharing your medical history would be a seamless, streamlined process.

But it’s not.

Healthcare in America is complex, if not chaotic sometimes. In a recent survey, conducted by Prophet, 40% of participants said they fear the lack of clarity and transparency in healthcare. From understanding networks to translating provider doublespeak, there is a demand and a downright necessity to simplify healthcare.

The simplicity movement is on the rise, whether it comes in the design of new online platforms or in the simplified language of brands choosing transparency over small print. New approaches both inside and outside the healthcare industry signal that simplification works.

As with healthcare’s empathy problem, in order to understand how we can solve the complexity problem, we must look both outside and inside the healthcare industry. Looking at innovations in simplification outside healthcare can inspire our thinking and help us to see the industry differently. And looking at those disrupting the system of complexity within the healthcare industry can show us how the tide is turning.

Simplicity in Action

In the last decade, Turbo Tax, an Intuit company, has revolutionized the way Americans file their taxes. It’s upended the painful idea of doing taxes by providing an online platform as effective as an actual, human tax accountant. The TurboTax software simplifies a highly complex and overwhelming process by minimizing time spent filing taxes and maximizing tax returns. The design is simple, completed in easy to understand step-by-step instructions, with the ever-present option to contact customer service. TurboTax continues to iterate its accounting methods to streamline the process for consumers. By guaranteeing maximum tax returns and 100% accuracy, TurboTax effectively launched itself into a category of its own: convenience and ease in an industry traditionally defined by obstacles and struggle.

Combining simple instructions, clean design and accessible customer service has enabled Turbo Tax to grow consistently over the past decade. In 2014 they reported an additional 14% growth in online sales, contributing to overall Intuit growth of 13% in the same year.

What Turbo Tax is doing for taxes, Oscar is doing for health insurance. Oscar is an online healthcare search engine, available in New York City and New Jersey that allows people to enter their symptoms, shop for and talk to a doctor with the click of a button. It also tracks customer visits, prescriptions and lab work in an intuitive timeline located on the website. Oscar was founded in an attempt bring the efficiency, transparency and design of consumer Internet companies into the ugly, byzantine world of health insurance. The company’s mission is to use simple design, big data and transparency to improve customer experience and customer knowledge.

Oscar highlights an additional element of simplicity through their unique, humorous and approachable brand voice. In one of many ads plastered in MTA subway stations and on NJ transit cars, Oscar quips about the style of their service, “Health insurance that won’t make your head explode. And if it does, you’re covered.”

The approach seems to be working. The small company has expanded from New York to New Jersey and soon plans to open shop in Texas and California in late 2015. It now claims 10% market share for the health care exchange in New York.

Why simplicity matters

There are three significant ways we believe “simple” makes an impact.

Simplicity inspires confidence

When healthcare organizations craft simple, easy to understand methods of interaction, patients feel empowered. Clearly seeing how they fit into the healthcare system enables patients to feel confident that they know where they stand. With confidence, patients are more willing to engage.

Simplicity signals transparency

Hiding behind complex small print and a labyrinth of network specifications creates confusion, leaving patients feeling intimidated. But enabling open communication through simple language and clear instructions gives patients a sense that healthcare organizations are on their side. Transparency equals trust, and with trust organizations can attract more consumers.

Simplicity is inviting

When patients feel they can approach healthcare organizations, they’re comforted. A wall of complex rules, restrictions and medical jargon leaves patients feeling frustrated. When organizations open the door of communication through simplicity, they allow consumers to feel cared for and protected.

Whether through design, brand voice or just an honest acknowledgment of the healthcare hoops, providers must find a way to maintain growth and offer patients a respite from the exhausting struggle to seek quality healthcare.

There’s growth in simplicity.

[Photo of Flickr user Official US Navy Page]

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