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How Amazon is Quietly Disrupting Healthcare with Customer Experiences

Paul Griffiths

Original post: October 09, 2017

On Jan. 30, iconic leaders of Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan announced that they intend to create an independent health care system for their American employees. The announcement that Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett, and Jamie Dimon have given authority and credence to the concept of revolutionizing healthcare set off a buzz of activity and some shock waves in the stock markets.

As we predicted in October 2017 with the news of Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods, this endeavor could shift the attitudes of consumers. With more choices comes more consumer-focused decisions. We continue to monitor this story and how it might change the way organizations think about processes and user experience.

Amazon acquires Whole Foods

Amazon’s announcement of a $13.7b plan to acquire high-end grocer Whole Foods caused a new ripple of anxiety in the retail world. Amazon is known for disrupting whole sectors of commerce with a single new offering, and the ecommerce giant had already been putting pressure on grocery channels with Amazon Fresh, a food delivery service built on the Amazon Prime network.

Seemingly overnight, Amazon established 450 retail locations in strategic locations for its business: wealthy suburban and urban locations. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ attitude has been: Let’s not teach Whole Foods what Amazon knows; let’s figure out what they know and bring it to a grander scale.

The implications of the acquisition will extend through not only retail and grocery delivery, but also the future of customer expectations in general — including digital customer experiences in healthcare.

Amazon’s effects on competitors are eerily similar to competing healthcare organizations

When you overlap the customer bases of Amazon and Whole Foods, they share some common attributes. But one key driver of this acquisition is that an estimated 38 percent of Whole Foods customers are not Amazon Prime members. In other words, it’s not just about the retail space—it’s about the distribution channel. By sliding into this new market, Amazon is making it easier for more people to access quality products without having to pledge “loyalty” to the Amazon brand. They’re simply giving people a new consumer-friendly choice.

When patients have choices, they make consumer-focused decisions – the healthcare infrastructure is opaque to them as patients don’t appreciate the organizational challenges of delivering care. We’ve had clients note that if a competitor opened an imaging lab in its market, the would lose so many referrals that they’d have to close. And healthcare professionals often think of their business in terms of the front door: Will the pharmacy-based walk-in clinic up the street eat into our primary care practices? Will a new ambulatory unit steal market share from our flagship hospitals?

There’s risk in direct competition, but also in substitutions when it’s simply easier for the consumer to do something else. The impact of Amazon on healthcare is not going to be tactical. Rather, Amazon is going to shift the attitudes of consumers to expect “always on, always available” solutions for their problems.

What’s a hospital to do?

Hospitals need a comprehensive way to integrate primary care, specialty care, ER visits, walk-in clinics, and virtual visits in a comprehensive, cohesive patient experience to meet that demand. This is why we are incredibly passionate about marrying strategy, patient acquisition, and true user experience: Consumer-centricity is the future of the world, for every consumer, everywhere.

Become an Amazon of healthcare. We’ll help you move past the “front door” mentality and embrace digital patient experiences and conversions.

If your organization doesn’t develop a strong, measurable methodology to create and satisfy patient demands online and offline, you’ll be left vulnerable to disruption by organizations that provide better, more accessible patient experiences. From the call center and front office staff to the nurses and providers who care for your patients, every human interaction should feel effortless on the part of the patient. They’re giving you their business, and usually they’re not there because they want to be. They’re sick. Or hurt. Or grieving. And they want you to make them feel better, or at the very least, provide a patient experience that doesn’t make them feel worse.

Online, it’s the same story. People probably aren’t visiting your website or other platforms for fun. They’re looking for information that directly affects their health and happiness: What will my surgery be like? Is my mother going to die from her heart condition? How can I make an appointment for my child to be tested for diabetes?

Your goal should be to present the information they’re looking for in a clear, easy-to-find, and easier-to-access way through thoughtful design, intuitive development, and actionable content. Thanks to retail instant gratification masters such as Amazon, healthcare consumers expect a quick, clean encounter on your digital properties. If they don’t get that experience, you can bet they’ll jump to the site a competitor who can provide it for them.

If you’re ready to take on the healthcare consumer movement, call us at 1.866.MDTOUCH or send us a message. We’ll help you move past the “front door” mentality and embrace digital patient experiences and conversions. Some healthcare organizations out there already have this figured out.

Become an Amazon of healthcare. Acquire your competitors’ consumer channels not by purchasing them for billions, but by providing increased digital engagement and exemplary opportunities that lead to meaningful healthcare experiences.

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