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The Uber-fication of Health Care: From a Business to Consumer Model

With Uber, theres no need to call a dispatcher or hail on the street. You can request a ride with the push of a button and track your drivers progress t...

Admin
|Jan 13|magazine10 min read

With Uber, there’s no need to call a dispatcher or hail on the street. You can request a ride with the push of a button and track your driver’s progress to your location. It’s a simple yet highly effective innovation to the standard taxi service model, and one that’s proven successful.

But what if we swapped out drivers for doctors and instead of waiting for a taxi service, we wait for a health care service instead?

Well, thanks to a number of startups, the idea of an Uber-like service where doctors come to you is something that is already happening worldwide.

Medicast, Doctor on Demand, Twine Health, TalkSession, and One Medical are just a few digital health startups that are leading the way in providing consumers direct access to doctors through their smartphones.

Oscar Salazar, an early employee of Uber itself, is even planning on introducing an on-demand health care startup that would “work like Uber, but with doctors coming to you.”

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There’s a shift taking place in health care, a “consumerization” of the industry, so to speak, where consumers are taking control of their own health care, and this is a good thing.

The Current State of the Health Care Industry

It comes as no surprise that health care, especially in the United States, is a serious problem. The U.S. spends two to three times more on health care per person than Europe and Asia but still suffers from poor health outcomes. And while the Affordable Care Act expects to extend coverage to an additional 10 million people, the system still needs to be reformed.

So where is this “consumerization” shift coming from?

For one, the cost burden of health care is already moving to the end consumer. According to The Kaiser Family Foundation, over 30 percent of health insurance plans now ask for significant out-of-pocket costs, with employee contributions nearing $5,000 annually.

Plans with a high deductible or a consumer-directed component have increased from 17 percent in 2007 to 31 percent in 2012, according to the foundation, and it is a trend that can only be expected to accelerate in 2015 and beyond.

With the burden and emphasis shifting to the end consumer, the fundamental business model of the health care industry is turning on its side.

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This new model is increasingly putting consumers at the center of their own health care decisions, and everyone else is following suit – employers are providing employee incentives for healthier lifestyles, insurers are catering to consumers who buy through online insurance exchanges, and providers and hospitals are actively marketing directly to consumers.

The Uber-fication of Health Care

When Uber came into the spotlight, it changed a lot of things. It highlighted how ineffective the current ride-sharing model is, it revealed the power of innovation and it told us to take advantage of the mobilization of the world rather than shy away from it.  

We are experiencing a technological revolution, a golden age of accessibility and mobility. And as we become more connected, the “Uber-fication” of industries will only continue.  

Health care is a difficult industry to navigate, filled with regulation, legislation and incumbency. But a new generation of entrepreneurs are entering the market and appealing to the recently-empowered class of consumers who want to take control of their own health care costs and outcomes, and they’re shaking things up. 

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