January 31, 2018

For Whom the Bell Tolls in Healthcare? Well, Everyone.

Do you know for whom the the bell tolls? I’ll cut to the answer: it’s healthcare companies. Yes, all of them.

The long-overdue announcement from Berkshire, JPMorgan, and not least of all Amazon has sent healthcare company stocks in the U.S. down sharply. And no wonder, given the history of the “Amazon Effect.” Once our friends in Seattle decide they want to “Prime-ify” an industry, incumbents start to sweat (see: auto parts, diapers, electronics…the list goes on).

What Does the Partnership Mean for Others in Healthcare?

You can see/marvel at what is being brought to the table here: Amazon creating the great digital experience + tech infrastructure; Berkshire providing elder statesman leadership and by all accounts a “mad-as-hell-and-not-going-to-take-it-anymore” attitude towards healthcare costs, and JPMorgan providing plenty of capital for the effort. Combine this with a potential dogfooding the principals bring (combined, in excess of 1.1 million employees – to say nothing of their families or dependents; Amazon 541K employees; JPMC 234K, Berkshire 368K). As to the report that the new entity will be “free from profit-making incentives and constraints,”: well, we’ll see about that…

But, you say, healthcare is too complicated/intrenched/(pick a qualifier) for “BAJ Health”to make a difference. I say scale has never been seen as a problem for these folks. So, incumbents, I’d start to get nervous if I were you.

So What Should You Do About it?

Forward thinking leaders will get over their jitters quickly though – if they have a plan, and to be blunt, only if they are willing to admit their failings, principally that they have simply not kept pace with the consumers of their services, especially managing expectations of customer experience. So, I’d offer the following to my board if I was that type of leader at a healthcare company:

  1. Figure out where your digital experience stinks. It’s likely falling short of consumer expectations even though you probably made some investment here. As a personal example, the app that I am required to use to upload medical-related receipts for medial cost reimbursement is a hot mess, and more importantly, no one seems to care: the app hasn’t been updated in the past 3 years. This is not acceptable. Pick your most complained-about digital presence, and relentlessly improve it. Start today.
  2. Your use of data? Assume that stinks too. I have no doubt that you are awash in data, but you are probably not making use of it in ways that informs the customer experience (see point one above).
  3. Renew the relationships with your supply chain, and reaffirm your commitment to agents and partners. The good news for many insurers is that enrollments and new plan years just kicked off. So, you’ve got 8-10 months to figure out who is going to defect from your enrollment, and more importantly, make their pain-points go away (view these folks as your customers, and review point 1 above).

Now for the Good News…

The good news? In my 20+ years working in professional services and frequently with healthcare providers leads me to believe that you can make the transition. The end-state of this transition if that you “Amazon yourself” you will be creating great digital experiences and keep the business you’ve worked so hard for.

If you want to talk about it, email me at michael.lisse@3pillarglobal.com or tweet me at @mlisse.

The bell is ringing, O you healthcare providers. Avoid answering at your own peril.

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[bctt tweet=”For whom the bell tolls when it comes to #healthcare? With the Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, JPMorgan partnership, it will be all healthcare companies if they don’t step up their digital game, writes @MLisse. ” username=”3pillarglobal”]

This post was originally published via LinkedIn Pulse