Steve Kraus, general partner of Bessemer Venture Partners, led a discussion centered on “The Consumer and The Retailization of Healthcare,” drawing first-hand accounts from the leaders of Centura Health, Docent Health, Dignity Health, and Bright Health.
If you think about it, products and services these days often owe their success to magical consumer experiences. Health care leaders now look to consumer products to understand the ways that people shop and, when looking at consumer motivations, the world looks very different.
For example, Bright Health delivers a smarter, more connected health care experience. The company’s exclusive partnerships with leading health systems, affordable health insurance plans, and simple, friendly approach to technology are reshaping how people and physicians achieve better health together.
Bright’s co-founder and CEO Bob Sheehy commented, “Health systems don’t think about consumers, they think about patients. Health insurance companies are almost exclusively business-to-business. We saw the Affordable Care Act implemented and one of the most impressive things to me was that consumers, when given a choice [of which health plan], and how the number of brand-new entrants took off tremendously. Coops with no brand recognition took off. Consumers were focused on costs. The total cost of care.”
Centura Health connects individuals, families, and neighborhoods across Colorado and western Kansas with more than 6,000 physicians and more than 21,000 of the best hearts and minds in health care.
CHN’s Medical Director Kit Brekhus, MD, explained, “We are well-grounded in serving folks. It’s my dollars that are being spent [they say], and so they are paying more attention and being more discerning.”
Docent Health combines the best practices from other industries to help health systems deliver the vision of customer-centric care by combining cutting-edge consumer technology, retail-based strategic marketing, and hospitality-inspired service excellence with deep provider experience to increase customer lifetime value and grow market share.
Docent’s co-founder and CEO Paul Roscoe said, “It was very easy to just think about it as being a technology platform. There is a person behind those Diagnosis Codes. We need to get much more information holistically. There was a technology solve to this. We employ hospitality-trained service specialists and they use the technology side-by-side with the clinicians; they are from the local communities, and they are providing, using the technology, a liaison that allows them to navigate their journey. It’s really important. Bridge the gap between the patient and the caregiver.”
Sheehy added, “Working with the consumer, we are only consumer-focused, and it’s liberating. The issue with group insurance is that when you’re selling to a benefits department at an employer, they are focused on the number of doctors, and coverage. Bringing people who have a consumer technology background into it to develop the interface so that it’s more personal – how do you support personal relationships between the patient and the physicians, how do you make that the core? We have had to redesign the entire interface to see how people interact with technology.”
Brekhus echoed this sentiment. “We don’t look at our carrier partners as a transactional relationships. How can all the parties contribute to the end result? We have done several consumer surveys to get down in the nitty-gritty of what our consumers are really looking for. The two big things are low-cost options, and access to care. They are willing to look at narrow networks if they have those options.”
Unfortunately, the consumerization of health care also brings about a number of realities such as the true cost of health care. Sheehy explained, “The market is fundamentally underpriced. A lot of existing health information was based on the individual health market, so no surprise, health care is really expensive. Now that price has come up in the last few years, they see it’s extraordinarily expensive. [We] need to have integrated delivery systems working and competing in the marketplace to get consumers who are locked into them, because they are competing on price. It’s been a challenging couple of years. We look at the plans that are successful and a lot of it is a relationship with the health system.”
Roscoe said, “We are learning about what we can do that can change patient experience. There needs to be a wholesale commitment to the patient.”
However, it can be difficult to realize the return on investment. As Roscoe explained, “If we do a great job for a patient, we might not see them for years. If you look at HCAPS [Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems survey] scores today, they have not been great for a long time. It’s like Uber asking you much later after you’ve had your ride how you like your experience. It’s frankly too late.”
Held on Nov. 2 in Boston, the Digital Healthcare Innovation Summit, chaired by Robert Mittendorff, MD, MBA, of Norwest Venture Partners, and Bill Geary of Flare Capital, brought together leading innovators, investors, and industry executives to share their valuable insights on the future of healthcare.
-Contributed by Robert Schultz