June 29, 2014

Ok so I have written in past on how consumerized health has its troubles – AS A STARTUP.

But if your Apple or Google you are clearly not a startup and you will easily leap frog legacy companies In healthcare. The primary reason is that the body is a technology white space and a new place to compete – as discussed in Mary Meekers 2012 talk



So far these consumer based companies competed on different spectrums like screen resolutions, and processing speed and such. But that game is tired. No more relevance with talking about things that far beyond the interest of the average user. They must now bring new opportunities to the table. What’s more relevant than your very own body?

Apple announced HealthKit. An ecosystem solution for consumerized health that has its data backend tied to Epic & Mayo as a first use case (nice brands doing there best to dictate the terms of this disruption) tethered soon to a iWatch and more of course…

Google announced GoogleFit. An ecosystem play on consumerized health as well, but done in such a way as to be part of a bigger thought pattern by filling the above mary meeker white spaces with androidauto, googlefit, adroidwatches, chromeTV, etc…

But these solutions appeal to not only wide audiences and smart phone users of all kinds but it is about to be included into a wider reality of healthcare outlined by Mary Meekers most recent internet trends report from 2014


Ok so if your still reading this, and the above feels obvious.

Lets try and read the tea leaves of how this environment might play out. Who will be the winners and losers so to speak?

1. Obamacare/Government – winner and loser. Obamacare will benefit greatly from this technology injection into health. In fact it was not so much the overarching policy but for one line of the ACA that allows for less costly solutions to bubble up and become scalable to medicare audience without legislative approval. You just need to show the same quality at less cost. Technology enabled patients have less dependence on professional care and that is a serious boon for Obamacare. In fact if not for this incredible momentum from above, we would likely be heading to a colossal failure, but with it, it might just try and take credit for this change, and that makes it a winner. Meanwhile it is a loser because we are in deep need of incentives for these activities lowering the cost for those patients that abide, and raising costs for those that do not. The problem plainly speaking is that those that have the worst health, are also the ones with the least wealth, they get the largest subsidy to paying for their insurance, with less skin in the game as they pay the least, have the worst health literacy, and lastly, they are also the least tech enabled. BUMMER. Disparity continues to widen and frustration for those that do their best, and end up paying for those that do not will continue to escalate. No easy solution! Apart from handing everyone out there a free iPhone or Android device and a reduced data plan if they use it for continuous health improvement 🙂

2. Payers are winners. They are in great shape, with options galore. And now with increasing enrollments, new relationships brewing with members, a consumerized world where they can engage users to avoid professional care at any and every turn. An activity that just so happens to be more convenient and more valuable, for almost everyone. They just have to get out of their own way, and reinvent their brands, probably restructure their management and leadership I suppose as well? The major problem is that with every action there is an equal and opposite reaction and playing the political dynamics with providers and other stakeholders is wonky and likely unpredictable.

3. Providers are winners and losers. Actually losers for the most part. But the saving grace is that providers on the whole are so poorly managed that there is a long runway to the bottom. With deep incentives for improving the way you do things. Bringing scale to your ability to communicate, deliver care, and provide for better choices can provide such large cost improvements that its probably at least 15 years before we even reach that nadir. And getting there first offers a nice incentive package for doing so. Payers, medicare, and employers offering shared savings and value based reimbursements can be a nice way to restructure, but this takes investment, knowledge, and hard work. Lots of hard work and behavior change by professionals. Culture change if you will. Not easy. argh.

4. Employers huge winners. If you’re an employer looking into ways to bypass your TPA for certain verticals (like surgery or pharma), shop and serve your employees with better tools, craft incentives for technology focused engagement strategies, the world is your oyster and its time to really take charge of your own destiny. Yipee!

I welcome the changes. But there will be a blood bath for those that continue to bury their heads. Consumers will simply go the pathway of least resistance and old infrastructures are road blocks to the rapid change that is required. Health industry on the whole needs to learn how to fail fast and try new things at the same pace as facebook, google, and apple. And that simply is not easy.

Eager to see how it all plays out and all we have to do is wait a few more months to start to see it in action. Time to get ahead of this curve? Happy to talk and discuss. Cheers, Blaine


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