What is “Retail” Health Technology?
This post is specific to health technology, so let’s start by defining our context. I think this definition by Booz is the best I have seen. Take a moment to read and digest!
“Retail health is where consumers find quality care in a variety of convenient forms and at competitive prices. Consumers are able to plan for the health care needs they anticipate and make informed decisions based on readily available information. They can then “shop” competitively for products and services using a variety of channels, formats, and business models. And for those that need help, they can turn to “navigators” who work with them to design the most suitable health care solutions for themselves and their families.”
I love this definition. Particularly that it points out that consumers should be able to “shop” competitively for products and services using a variety of channels, formats, and business models.
So then, what is the right place for technology in retail health? For me technology should serve as a means to help educate, navigate, plan, motivate and choose from suitable solutions for health care needs, anticipated and otherwise.
How does technology power retail health?
Technology is transforming the way healthcare is understood by the patient, managed by the insurance plan, and delivered by the provider. One major benefit is that technology can greatly reduce costs by removing the need for the same care to be delivered through a much less expensive channel, which is available at the consumers demand. Another benefit is it allows for customer-intimacy over a faster (and less expensive) delivery channel. So, with those two benefits alone, and there are many others, it is worth the heavy investment that we see in the marketplace. But to add icing to the cake, technology enables consumer’s health data to be stored in one easy to access place, securely. This enables a consumer to access their health information over time to see if their health is trending one way or another. With increasingly sophisticated smart phones and collaboration software, there will soon come a day when health care is delivered seamlessly as part of a consumer’s accepted daily routine – such as appointments and care decision alerts via their calendar, email and text messaging.
Smart health care companies will find ways to overcome trust and regulatory issues, simplify – and make meaningful the fire hose of health information, and reach consumers with relevant and reasonable guidance to help them take charge of their own health.
As it stands today, there are (too) many companies offering solutions to help consumer with their health. Here are a few examples – there are many, many more.
With all this choice, what then could be the problem?
However, because technology has made choosing a cheap alternative, vendors have rushed to provide consumers with too much to choose from, and thereby exacerbating the problem by creating a fragmented path to solve their jobs-to-be-done. As such, consumers typically get help at “points in time” when making health related decisions, but not “over time” in a consistent and evidenced based manner.
Let’s take a look at what too much choice can be like.
Example # 1
Say you want to buy health products from Amazon. A simple search for heart rate monitors results in greater than 14,247 heart rate monitor entries. Try it yourself by clicking here.
Example # 2
Ok, so you and 1 billion others have a smart phone. Well now you need a health application. Yikes! There are over 13,000 healthcare related apps in iTunes. Try it yourself by clicking here.
Example # 3
Ok, let’s just play it safe and look up health information online. There are over 23,000 articles on WebMD that have to be searched through. Now WebMD does have search filters thank goodness, but that assumes I understand enough about the topic to know what filters to use. In most cases consumers do not. Just looking at the back pain page gives me a headache.
The moral of our story
Simply put, build technology that matters to the consumer by creating an experience in which they want to engage.
Ok, so what can you do to ensure that you are not adding to the problem? I offer up this simple test to see if you are helping or hindering the consumer in their pursuit of health.
Is your technology a shovel, a hole, or a fruit tree?
A lot of our health technology is what I consider a “shovel”. It is by technicians for technicians – it is shinny and sturdy, but in and of itself is of no use! Well, this one is not shiny but it is sturdy, and you get the point.
Shovels offer no value exchange. They create no purchase reason.
Other health technologies are “holes”. They are there and can be used for whatever you want them for. Better than shovels (in fact best created with shovels) holes have usefulness if filled properly.
They can be good for growing a good idea into something bigger. They can also become mud puddles or sink holes.
Finally, we have Fruit Trees. The value is well understood by both growers (providers) and consumers. They have utility. You forget about the “tree” because you are focused on the sweetness of the fruit. This idea is what we have to aim for. You have to envision your consumer drinking a glass of your orange juice on a sunny morning before they go to work brimming with energy. Yes it took a hole to grow the tree, and yes it took a shovel to dig the hole, but the experience (that lip smacking satisfied customer) is what matters.
Envision the value being realized – now go create.
To your health,
The Team at imagine.GO