Today is an amazing time to be involved in most industries. This week I read articles in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) that separately discussed the taxi and transportation revolution brought on by Uber, Inc., and the transformation traditional media companies are making to quickly adapt to on-line advertising. It has been fascinating to watch Uber’s “application” of driven on-demand, morph the transportation business. Many cities, counties, states and even governments have challenged Uber because their “technology” is disruptive to the status quo; yet the outcomes have nearly always favored Uber. The WSJ reported the issues happening in New York City, and the public battle that it seems Uber has clearly won. Why?
The WSJ reported that “Two million New Yorkers have downloaded the Uber app onto their mobile devices—a quarter of the city’s population and more than twice the number of citizens who voted” for the recently elected Mayor! This is amazing and clearly denotes the near mindboggling power of this “social” trend.
Consider one day that a customer can choose doctors, easier diagnostics, durable medical equipment or services, using mobile applications or an online marketplace. Now, before you think that is apples and oranges; humor me. Today, if you provide high-end diagnostic services and you bill Medicare, you must receive full accreditation from an independent accreditation organization. I have been there and done that, and everyone I’ve met in this space are excellent and professional. Medicare trusts the process, why shouldn’t we? The accreditation process in this case is uniform, dependable and a sound measurement of quality and qualifications. Imagine further; a patient requires diagnostic services, desires these services be provided within 10 miles of their home and with a provider that also takes their insurance. Additionally, what if the patient has a way to specify the best time for their appointment; then providers meeting that criteria, can price or quote the patients procedure accordingly? I believe with the technology we have today, we are on the very cusp of this happening. When it does, it will bring a positive tidal wave of change in the delivery of healthcare.
Customers – yes customers, not patients (it makes a huge difference when we make that mental shift) – will rate each provider based on time, quality and value. With the prevalence now of high deductible insurance plans, this will make a huge difference to a majority of them. Customers, instead of being sent by their Primary Care Physician or a Specialist, will be able to specify what they want, when and where they want it and get it at the best price. Bona fide competition is coming to healthcare! I believe nothing will bring genuine cost control and drive quality of healthcare delivery better or faster, than classic free market competition. Once online personal healthcare records are truly available, this transaction will be even easier for customer and provider; and, what’s more, the payer will be on the side of the provider for a change.
Now that we are projecting into the future, let’s also project the integration of the electronic medical record, patient portal, telemedicine and that soon to come healthcare marketplace. I can promise you this will be as swift and “disruptive” to healthcare, as the transformation we have seen in New York City, Paris and San Francisco in the revolution of ground transportation courtesy of Uber and Lyft. The “on demand marketplace” is the future in healthcare and the impact will be more significant and far easier to accept than the changes brought by electronic medical records. Who could argue against a provider receiving payment for services from a customer’s insurance carrier before the customer has left the office? It’s all a part of the “disruptive technology” that is on its way. Expect it and embrace it! It will be less painful that way.
– Noel J. Guillama, President