Uber for Health Care

Uber is . . . a next-generation logistics company that could ultimately compete with established companies like FedEx or UPS.

Uber has taken the transportation industry by storm. No hyperbole here, it is most certainly true and it is not stopping there. A recent article about its investors and revenue points out the excitement surrounding the company and its very real growth. As a two-sided marketplace, Uber took an existing infrastructure and used it to serve its communities in an entirely new way by changing the way people use transportation in cities that have historically relied upon taxis and other similar means of getting from place to place.

The question is, can the same thing be done in other industries? I think it can and I think it should.

The health care world and its monopoly of systems and providers can be—and should be—disrupted; health care can be and should be reinvented from top to bottom making the experience an easy, satisfying reality. There’s a better way to “do health care.”

Problems to Solve

Among the many obvious problems with the current health care system and structure, the most blatant include:

  • access to care is dictated by people other than the customer and the provider (e.g., insurance companies)
  • poor health care options and infrastructure (especially rural areas)
  • poor service and fulfillment including unorganized offices and clinics and poor communication and follow up
  • poor customer experience (can’t health care be “fun” and easy, too?)
  • long waiting times to see providers
  • providers having to rely on the insurance industry for payment
  • providers being unwilling to explain their pricing and accept alternative payment types

I imagine rattling the entire health care experience to make it seamless and enjoyable across the board. I’m not talking about fixing just one aspect of the system (e.g., online scheduling for existing medical and fitness providers); rather, I propose tackling the whole experience from online and mobile scheduling to seamless payments to convenient interaction to the use of expert providers with accompanying ratings.

How Can We Uber-ize Health Care?

By avoiding the trap of smaller thinking and iterating on one element of the health care problem (like offering online scheduling), I see the creation of a “wow” experience that totally redefines what it means to interact with a health care provider.

Network Orchestration

I see the same network orchestration model Uber and others use that provides “a network of peers in which the participants interact and share in the value creation.” At its core, Uber uses current infrastructure to deliver better, more efficient transportation services. It didn't need to spend time training its drivers (most are required to hold commercial driver’s licenses); instead, Uber essentially markets on behalf of those drivers. Uber is telling the world that “there are good drivers out there that can provide a better experience for you than the traditional taxi cab . . . use this app to call one of our drivers now!”

We didn’t spend all those years in school to worry about insurance networks and marketing, we pursued our professions to help people

I have spent the better part of 25 years building an international network of health care providers. These providers are my peers and they are experts and they are good at what they do. But I know they share the same frustration I do: we didn’t spend all those years in school to worry about insurance networks and marketing, we pursued our professions to help people. I would like to do for the network of dedicated, expert professionals what Uber has done for its network of drivers. Marketing on the network’s behalf to fill downtime and wallets.

Health Care via a Couple of Clicks

To see a health care provider, customers and patients must:

  • verify that the provider is in their insurance company’s network,
  • pay high co-pays for each visit,
  • wait for an opening in the provider’s schedule (sometimes this takes months), and
  • sit in a waiting room until the provider is able to see them (waits of over an hour are common in some practices).

We can eliminate all of those barriers to health care access and the technology currently exists to do just that. I see a system that allows:

  • online, flexible scheduling options
  • a nearly unlimited choice of expert providers (no more reliance on the “in-network versus out of network” decision)
  • less expensive health care costs (health care needs to be good, not expensive)
  • convenient appointments that don’t require travel and waiting for the visit

The public deserves to have another health care alternative. It sounds crazy to have to say that but there are incumbent interests that often curtail innovation and limit health care alternatives that might compete with existing business.

We can do this elsewhere. The Uber model not only CAN be easily and effectively applied to health care, but it SHOULD be applied. We can change the way people get fit and healthy by offering personal health care virtually through credentialed experts who meet with consumers on their time.

There is a better way . . . help us make that better way a reality.

David is the CEO & co-Founder of Quest, a company dedicated to transforming the worlds of health and fitness through a network of expert clinicians and providers.

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