The Hospitality Industry As a Model for Health Care Doesn’t Ring True

Online travel booking services are tremendously popular—they provide great deals, allow for easy booking, and share many reviews from fellow travelers. The simplicity of searching for healthcare providers the same way is appealing, as is the ability to request appointments online. But the healthcare industry is not as simple as the hospitality industry, posits Graham Gardner, MD, CEO of Kyruus.

Clearly, patients need to be empowered with online healthcare resources and experiences. But there is a lot of debate about the best way to help patients navigate their way to the right appointment for their condition.

Guiding a patient to the right practitioner requires a deep understanding of a provider’s scope of practice and the resources available at the health system. Historically, online healthcare services have delivered convenience but lacked the precision and workflows to ensure appropriate matching of a patient’s condition to the right provider. Services that abstract away from providers—the way a Travelocity does with individual airlines—may actually be impairing the ability to guide people to the right care.

Third party sites are not equipped to provide the right level of detail or up-to-date information about providers’ expertise. Health systems are actually better positioned to deliver this information. Third-party websites could provide patient-provider mismatches that could delay care, or inaccurate insurance information that can trigger avoidable financial obligations. They also limit care coordination.

Health systems have invested substantial time and resources in improving care transitions and coordination for patients within their networks. When patients turn to third parties to find providers, they can unknowingly disrupt that team approach to care.

Health systems can and should be building a historical view of the patient and delivering a more personalized experience over time. This gives patients the feeling that an organization knows them and their needs—something they won’t find on a transactional third-party website.

Third-party websites have recognized this and are ahead of health systems when it comes to online reviews, robust provider search capabilities, engaging content, and appointment scheduling capabilities. This has to change.

Health systems must understand that their patients will seek out the kind of experiences they are used to with travel. Fortunately, health systems are well positioned to help organize and deliver the kind of information and processes required to help patients navigate to the right provider in their network.

Read Gardner’s full article here.