On Amazon Prime Day, What Could Health Care Look Like?

Jane Sarasohn-Kahn, author of the book HealthConsuming, recently wrote on the Health Populi website about how we could “Amazon-ize” health care to increase its benefit to consumers.

In the U.S., patients have been morphing into health care consumers—a trend that has been accelerated by the growth of high-deductible health plans, coupled with health and medical savings arrangements (HSAs and MSAs). Sarasohn-Kahn also says that the constant deluge of direct-to-consumer ads for prescription drugs in the same channels as ads for cars, food, and appliances has made medicine seem more like a retail experience.

Because patients are the payors, they are motivated to shop for the components of their health care that are shoppable. However, half of the people surveyed in a recent Aflac survey want shopping for health insurance to feel like an Amazon experience and 20 percent want it to feel like a retail store. This, Sarasohn-Kahn says, is the Amazon Prime’ing of the health care consumer; the consumer expects a high level of transparent, streamlined, and choice-suggested experience.

This, she says, is a rational response from people who feel like health insurance and health care is a very complex web of payment and service delivery. Amazon has the consumer goodwill in place to leverage for health care relationships, and two in five people would be willing to use Amazon to purchase their prescription drugs.

With Amazon’s acquisition of PillPack, among other things, the company has been growing its platform competencies in the health care ecosystem and its ability to cross-sell health care consumers.

Sarasohn-Kahn says her current favorite health care company is Xealth, a platform that allows providers to “prescribe” apps and other digital tools via its streamlined, Amazon-style workflow. Xealth recently received additional funding to further scale its technology.

As people shop for Amazon Prime Day deals, they might consider pondering how their experiences could (or will) translate into their own health care processes soon or in the future. Sarasohn-Kahn believes we’ll see more partnerships and collaborations between health care companies and startups that should “bring more good design thinking into their deliverables.”

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