Interrupted vs. Disrupted: Why a Flood of Targeted Solutions is the Real Key to Changing Healthcare

We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction.” — Bill Gates

Attending the recent fifth annual Oliver Wyman Health Innovation Summit has given me renewed energy and optimism about the future state of healthcare. Bill Gates’ quote underscores the point: there’s no silver bullet to mend a broken system, but if we focus on unique problems (jobs to be done) —and not get stuck because the problems are so vast—the change can be remarkable. Today, we need to interrupt the status quo—step by step—to eventually disrupt the industry.

At the conference, several companies and innovators shared how they are solving problems. A few key themes surfaced, as well, which I’ve shared at HealthSparq and share with you here.

Spotlight on Segmentation

Outside of the healthcare space, there are many industries and companies that understand their different target audiences and how to interact with each in relevant and personal ways. Healthcare, for the most part, is way behind. We have changed our language from “patients” and “members” to “consumers,” but still view “the consumer” as a monolithic person.

Solving a problem for a 20-year-old is unlikely to be applicable to solving a problem for a 65-year-old— especially in healthcare. It isn’t just demographics that make people’s healthcare journeys different—their approach to care, what they value, behaviors, etc., all play a huge part. That’s why smart segmentation is key.

In retail, consumers have choices, and companies tailor their experiences to meet consumer segments. Some people choose Wal-Mart, some Amazon. Some shop at Target, while others prefer Nordstrom. Each provides a different experience and value, and consumers decide what best fits their needs. Healthcare could use more thinking like this. We need to focus on the problem we are solving, who has that problem—and build the experience from there.

Balancing Tech and Touch

Technology alone will rarely solve meaningful challenges. Consider the problem of costly ER visits by Medicare members. ChenMed, a care model for seniors, is solving that problem with a high-touch approach, with some technology woven in. For example, to ensure seniors make it to their appointments, ChenMed will provide transportation. It may not be a state-of-the-art innovation, but the results have been lower hospital admissions and sky-high Net Promoter Scores® (we’ll get to these shortly).

This balance of tech and touch is important because almost every healthcare journey is unwanted. At HealthSparq, we talk about how people want health, not “healthcare.” Understanding and delivering different ways for people to get the care they need is essential. Some people will self-serve via technology and apps, while others will need help navigating. We must strive to meet people when and where they need us.

NPS All Around

Net Promoter Scores (NPS) were a primary theme at the conference. Organizations in every realm of healthcare want to know how consumers feel about their brand and services. And, because most people don’t want to be on a healthcare journey, it’s an enormous task to figure out how to delight them along the way.

A couple of things jumped out for me around NPS:

  • Ensure we are measuring the entire experience and not just point interactions. How do people feel at the end of their healthcare episode? Touchpoints need to be measured to understand areas for improvement, but the end of the story is the most impactful.
  • Dig deeper and understand what people really want and value. Most companies do research on what people say they want, but often people don’t really know until they use or experience something. The conference session, “Knowing What Consumers Really Want,” used minivans as an illustration. If you ask people what they want in an automobile, most won’t say “minivan!” Yet, 500,000 are sold in the United States every year. Car companies solved a real—yet unspoken—problem, and once people experienced the solution, they bought it. But before it was introduced, people didn’t know—and so couldn’t tell you—they wanted and needed a minivan.

There are a lot of smart people and interesting companies challenging the status quo. From within broad technology platforms to personal navigation companies, people are identifying jobs to be done and creating solutions that offer better outcomes for people. I believe this approach, combined with the focus on satisfaction (NPS), creates a new energy in our space and provides hope that we will be able to transform healthcare and make it a more people-focused experience.