Healthcare – Ripe for Uberization

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Every once in a while, we witness an industry that has remained unchanged for decades suddenly disrupted by new technology. In fact, coming up with disruptive new technologies is now a badge of honor among tech types. The poster child, if you will, of modern disruptive technologies is none other than Uber, the ride-sharing platform that has put a serious dent in traditional taxi and livery services. So what about healthcare. Is it ripe for its own disruptive ‘uberization’? Microsoft Australia’s Simon Kos thinks so.

Kos took the opportunity of a recent blog post to explain how he believes disruptive technology can change healthcare delivery. He did not offer any specific ideas for innovation, but he made it clear that technology would enable the healthcare industry to achieve its three-part goal of increasing access, improving quality, and reducing costs. He believes what Uber has done for transportation (and Airbnb has done for travel) can be achieved in healthcare.

Small Signs of Disruption

Kos’s idea is not all that revolutionary in light of some early disruptions we are already seeing. According to a recent blog post published by HealthJobs.com, the uberization of health care is already underway thanks to the rise of on-demand healthcare.

As HJN pointed out, a handful of enterprising entrepreneurs have developed a platform of on-demand healthcare utilizing a smartphone app and a network of doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants willing to provide immediate and affordable primary care. Subscribers to the service need only sign up and download the app to get started. Whenever they are in need of primary care, they use the app to find a clinician willing and available to help. In many cases, the clinician goes right to the consumer at work or home.

The model seems to work because it answers the needs of two distinct groups of people. It meets the needs of patients who may not want to sit in a waiting room for an hour just to be seen for a cold or the flu. It meets the needs of clinicians by giving them more opportunities to practice medicine in ways that are less restrictive. Everyone seems happy at this point.

Disruption in the Office

Kos believes there is plenty of room for disruption in healthcare. We do not disagree. In fact, we see great potential in the office as well. Consider the number of front office staff the typical doctor needs just to keep patients moving in and out. What if that doctor was able to handle scheduling with very little need for human intervention? It could be possible using the same sort of technologies driving Uber and Airbnb. Such a technology would make the doctor’s office more efficient, in terms of both time and financial resources.

Remote medicine is another possibility that is already being worked on. We are quickly moving toward the day when patients may no longer need to visit their GP’s office or the local health clinic for typical primary care. They will be able to bring up a smartphone app or a computer program that puts them face to face with a doctor, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant who can provide an online consultation.

Simon Kos may be right. The healthcare industry might be ripe for disruption. We could be on the verge of some very serious innovations that completely redefine not only how patients receive healthcare services, but also how service providers deliver those services. If you like the challenge of new adventures, now is a great time to be looking for a job in healthcare.