NewsThe Imperative for Healthcare Overhaul

The Imperative for Healthcare Overhaul

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In a landscape where the healthcare industry constitutes nearly a fifth of the U.S. economy, major players such as Amazon and Walmart, armed with vast technological capabilities and substantial capital, are reinvigorating their investments in healthcare. While the industry’s response ranges from panic to nonchalance, the profound impact of ‘Big Tech’ cannot be overlooked.

Amazon’s acquisition of One Medical last year prompted a reevaluation of primary and virtual care models across the health sector. However, numerous technology companies, despite their prowess, have encountered substantial losses attempting to disrupt the complex healthcare market. Notable examples include Microsoft Health Vault (2007–2019) and the collaboration between JP Morgan, Berkshire Hathaway, and Amazon in Haven (2018–2021).

The focal point here is the consumerization of healthcare and the reasons driving it. It’s not merely about the potential takeover by Amazon or Big Tech; rather, it underscores the imperative for the entire industry to address unmet consumer demands. The industry’s transformation is driven by consumer expectations that Amazon and others aim to fulfill. The challenge is not whether big tech will succeed, but rather which health leaders will adapt to these changing dynamics, and those that do not risk fading away over time.

Consumers are demanding healthcare experiences that mirror the convenience, real-time responsiveness, and personalization they experience in other facets of their lives. However, the existing administrative technology infrastructure in the U.S. healthcare industry is ill-equipped to meet these expectations. Payers and health market professionals find themselves grappling with outdated systems relying on four-decade-old EDI connections and incomplete data, resulting in limited real-time updates and analytics datasets updated monthly.

Comparatively, consumer-centric companies like Uber exemplify an infrastructure capable of coordinating vast amounts of real-time data, from location tracking to payment processing, offering seamless experiences. In contrast, the healthcare industry’s outdated systems result in a scenario akin to waiting 20 days for a new family physician appointment, a stark reminder of the industry’s struggle to meet consumer expectations.

Despite the challenges, the wait times have seen a 30% reduction since 2017, particularly in primary care, due to the rapid expansion of virtual, urgent, and retail primary care. However, true modernization in healthcare necessitates a deep overhaul of the information technology infrastructure that governs the movement of clinical, administrative, and financial data within the healthcare ecosystem.

While new entrants may enhance consumer experiences at specific care endpoints, true transformation requires collaboration and innovation to update the data routing and storage infrastructure. Government mandates have aimed to improve the sharing of clinical EHR data, but efforts toward making administrative and financial healthcare data more interoperable and usable in real time have been limited.

Amazon’s integration of One Medical into its ecosystem highlights the need for comprehensive coordination within the broader healthcare landscape. The industry requires innovators and collaborators to establish modern platforms and sharing standards, ensuring a seamless end-to-end customer journey that aligns with evolving consumer expectations. Without these fundamental changes, improvements to customer experience will remain superficial and confined to the realm of applications.

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