A lesson from JPM: Too many digital front doors in health care lead to nowhere
Top health care leaders faced warnings of rain, hail and flash floods at this year’s JP Morgan Healthcare conference in San Francisco. Secondly are they navigating? Retailers raining new entrants in health care. JPM’s announcements and the recent CES 2023 conference in Las Vegas have confirmed the willingness of people including Amazon, Best Buy, CVS, and even Samsung to try to simplify health care.
CVS is making a play to expand its hand into primary care and behavioral health. Walgreens enters new markets, acquires Summit Health. And Amazon’s recent acquisition of One Medical is set to go through approval.
All these investments, deals and partnerships are in the form of facilitation. This is the right impulse. But in 2023 the facility is not enough. If a solution isn’t transformative, comprehensively addressing the big and small problems of the American health care system, there’s no room for it.
Americans have been promised simple access to health care for years, so it’s understandable if they swoon to enter the many new digital front doors. But too many of those doors lead to small, dead-end foyers with no real connection to—or understanding of—their health history, insurance benefits, unique needs or preferences.
This disconnect creates convenience without connectivity and more confusion, a depressingly familiar scenario for people seeking care. The pressing need for anyone seeking health services is far more pervasive, valuable and long-lasting, something that ranges from facilitating health care to fundamentally improving it. for all.
I believe integration is the innovation that matters now.
Long-term successful players in health care will take the necessary steps to rethink the entire system and address the problems they can uniquely solve, in the channels where they can make the most impact. That’s certainly the focus of Incorporated Health, the company I lead. We think we can make the biggest difference by connecting people to the right care at the right time, whether virtual or in-person, that is fully informed by their insurance coverage, health history, preferences, identity and needs.
Here’s the thing: Too many shiny new offerings make the health care experience worse. Anything less than a combination of clinical leadership, care delivery, technical expertise and consumer-oriented service, as measured by a healthy dose of patient-reported outcomes, won’t work. It will not take away the out-of-control costs, inaccessibility, inequality, and just plain bad experiences that many people face.
To drive true cross-industry and cross-country change, innovators in health care need to avoid distractions and focus on the real antidote to complexity, fragmentation, and personal isolation: an experience for people who care about their entire health and well-being. covers the whole life. Half of Americans are confused by their health insurance benefits and even if they do understand them, 84 million live in places that lack primary care.
New retailers looking to enter health care may mean well, with the promise of personalized health care delivered to one’s phone, watch or doorstep. But people need much more than this. They need guidance. This means advocacy, accurate and empathetic care interactions, and one-on-one support to navigate it all: the everyday, the urgent and the more complex. People are tired of connecting the links. To fill out a text conversation with their primary care physician, if they have one, about their experience at urgent care or with a physician through their workplace health benefits. Done right, the integration will have a big impact: better health at a lower cost. Incorporated Health recently compiled data showing that such an approach could reduce health care costs by 6% to 10%.
Digital solutions alone are not enough to reshape healthcare. Electronic health records have created chaos. The first generation of telehealth has failed to reduce the burden on health care providers, creating more barriers for patients trying to access their own health information. Early personal health tracking devices didn’t lead to the promised health improvements. Any solution that fails to leverage data and connectivity to provide predictive and personalized care, is a short-term play. This may be good for short term revenue, but it is bad for health.
So let’s think long term. It’s bigger than convenience. People need health care designed and proven to treat them better.