It wasn’t too long ago that shopping online was taboo. Consumers had concerns of security and privacy issues with online purchasing. Then, Amazon revolutionized the online marketplace and changed the way we shop forever. Today, consumers add their credit card information online without a second thought and the expectation is that they can purchase goods and services conveniently from their home and get their purchased item shipped to them free of charge within a day or two.
The change in consumerism gave rise to companies like LifeLock to ensure that our personal credit information is protected online. The exchange of financial data online also created opportunities for consumers to monitor their own financial health and wellbeing free of charge through companies like Credit Karma. Even the heavily regulated banking industry has gone virtual. Today, you can take a picture of a check and have it deposited in your account or even apply for a mortgage and have banks bid to finance it through LendingTree.
It isn’t that the security, privacy or the regulations around finance and financial transactions have eased over time. It is that consumer trust and demand for these services have grown over time. According to McKinsey, we are seeing an increase of banks and other financial institutions invest in digital products for two main reasons:
- Digital technologies increase a bank’s connectivity—not just with customers but also with employees and suppliers. This extends from online interactivity and payment solutions to mobile functionality and opportunities to boost bank brands in social media.
- Digital draws on big data and advanced analytics to extend and refine decision making. Such analytics are being deployed by the most innovative banks in many areas, including sales, product design, pricing and underwriting, and the design of truly amazing customer experiences.
So why should healthcare leaders pay attention to these digital trends in other industries? Healthcare leaders should pay attention to these trends because of how consumers have responded to the digitization of other heavily regulated industries and the investment currently being made by big companies into the healthcare market.
First, let’s look at the effect on consumerism. There is a correlation between how people feel about privacy and security of protected health information and protected financial information. At first, consumers were leery of sharing protected financial information, now the majority of consumers manager their financial health and well-being online.
Consumers use digital analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and comparison tools to take charge of their financial health. We are starting to see this in healthcare consumerism today. Patients are using wearables with biometrics, researching health topics and become more educated healthcare consumers. Once a person has the opportunity to manage their health and well-being online in the way they manage their financial health, the way we consume healthcare will change forever.
Next, let’s look at the investment. Amazon has a secret healthcare initiative called 1492. Could that mean that Amazon has accidentally discovered a way for consumers to access health records in the way that Columbus accidentally discovered America? According to TechNewsWorld, The 1492 team reportedly has been working on ways to streamline medical records management, so as to make the information available to consumers and doctors more readily. It has also been reported that they are working on a tele-med platform to help those who can’t make it to the doctor or live in rural areas.
Amazon is not the only heavyweight entering the market. IBM, Google, Apple and Microsoft have all launched healthcare initiatives. Patients will have a greater self-management stake in this value-based economy, so the patients will want the kind of self-service platforms that these giants have created in other industries.
The investment by large companies into AI driven, digital health platforms and the overall change in consumerism will drive innovation in how we access healthcare in the same way that it changed the way we access finance.