Healthcare is the problem of our generation, and we need to fix it. But how we go about doing that matters.
Since I founded Zocdoc in 2007, I have watched the world’s biggest tech companies enter the healthcare space like lions, only to retreat like lambs. Microsoft HealthVault aimed to revolutionize personal health records. Google Health aimed to do the same. Apple HealthKit aimed to revolutionize collecting and centralizing clinical data, and Amazon’s Haven aimed to revolutionize . . . something?
As Silicon Valley’s giants continue to impact every corner of our lives, their lack of traction in healthcare feels even more pronounced. And yet, the show goes on. Last month, Amazon announced a new healthcare venture aimed at message-based prescriptions for a limited set of conditions.
To be clear: I believe that healthcare is the problem of our generation, and if we don’t fix it then it will break the bank, our health or both. And I believe it deserves the world’s best and brightest minds working on fixing it. But how we go about fixing healthcare matters.
WHEN YOU ARE HOLDING A HAMMER, EVERYTHING LOOKS LIKE A NAIL
When I look at the strategic common denominator across big tech’s ventures into healthcare, it is that they are not primarily solving for what healthcare needs. They are primarily solving how to make money with their respective core businesses: Apple is focused on driving adoption of its hardware (Apple Watch), Google on big data applied to clinical questions (Verily), and Amazon on leveraging its supply chain in areas like pharmacy (Pillpack, Amazon Clinic).
Retrofitting these core competencies into healthcare may improve elements of it, but they will not meaningfully change healthcare’s root problem: a uniquely disconnected ecosystem that consistently fails patients and providers.
For patients, almost nothing connects: The place with lists of in-network doctors is different to the one for scheduling, is different to the one for benefits information, is different to the one for payments, is different to the one with outcome data, is different to the one with medical records, and so on. It is a similar disjointed maze for providers and their staff. Their days are spent navigating antiquated, separate systems for scheduling, patient records, insurance approvals, and more. It is the disconnection of systems that is the source of frustration for both sides.
By Oliver Kharraz, MD | Fast Company
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