3 Lessons the Health Care Industry Can Learn from Uber
Uber has been clouding headlines as of late, due to the drastic changes it has brought to the taxi industry. With major cities flocking to the app for its lower prices and convenience, Uber is significantly changing the market.
We’ve written about how startups like Uber are taking the health care industry from a business to consumer model, but we haven’t discussed what lessons companies such as Uber can teach the industry directly.
Therefore, here are three key lessons health care can take from Uber.
1. Value customer service.
While there are certainly exemplary taxi drivers out there, most drivers treat riders rudely or don’t even bother to pick them up if they believe they are going somewhere they don’t want to go (for example, the airport). There are also taxi drivers who smoke, talk on cell phones and just don’t bother taking a rider into consideration.
With Uber, riders can hail a ride easily, track its location and receive great service.
For most individuals, receiving health care in the United States feels a lot like taking a taxi before Uber was invented. And if health care doesn’t learn from Uber and improve the industry, disruptors will.
2. Price competitively and sensibly.
Despite the ability to up-charge due to an excellent service, Uber’s prices are very competitive. UberX rates in Chicago are roughly half those of taxi's, and black cars are just 20 percent more. The company went even further this summer by slashing its standard rates by 25 percent in order to drive new (and repeat) users to the app.
The health care industry needs to learn that sometimes significant price reductions are needed to attract a large customer base. While most health systems won't be able to sustain a loss, more efficient operations could greatly reduce their cost of operations and allow for more attractive pricing.
Some health systems will remain competitive on factors other than pricing, all but the most advanced, brand-name systems will eventually be operating in world driven by managing population health. And in that world, systems with a larger population to manage have more revenue, and a greater ability to carry out their missions.
3. Value transparency in cost and quality.
While Uber's base rates are competitive, it isn't afraid to charge customers more when demand is high. However, it's prices are clearly marked, and users are informed and must agree to surge pricing before booking during peak times.
Uber is all about transparency when it comes to cost and quality data. Users can review user-generated ratings of each driver, and provide their own feedback after a trip. Drivers rate riders as well, though that information is available only to other drivers.
Notoriously known for a lack of transparency in pricing and billing, health care systems could learn a lot from a company whose pricing is clear, actively encourages users to rate service providers and their experience, and makes this data publicly available. While hospitals want ratings, very few of them make this data publicly available on their own websites.
Getting ready for cloud data-driven healthcare
As healthcare continues to recognise the value of data and digital transformation, many organisations are relying on the cloud to make their future-forward and data-centric thinking a reality. In fact, the global healthcare cloud computing market was valued at approximately $18 billion and is expected to generate around $61 billion USD by 2025.
At the forefront of these changes is the rapid adoption of cloud-based, or software-as-a-service (SaaS), applications. These apps can be used to handle patient interactions, track prescriptions, care, billing and more, and the insights derived from this important data can vastly improve operations, procurement and courses of treatment. However, before healthcare organisations can begin to dream about a true data-driven future, they have to deal with a data-driven dilemma: compliance.
Meeting regulation requirements
It’s no secret that healthcare is a highly regulated industry when it comes to data and privacy – and rightfully so. Patient records contain extremely sensitive data that, if changed or erased, could cost someone their life. This is why healthcare systems rely on legacy technologies, like Cerner and Epic EHRs, to manage patient information – the industry knows the vendors put an emphasis on making them as secure as possible.
Yet when SaaS applications are introduced and data starts being moved into them, compliance gets complicated. For example, every time a new application is introduced into an organisation, that organisation must have the vendor complete a BAA (Business Associate Agreement). This agreement essentially puts the responsibility for the safety of patients’ information — maintaining appropriate safeguards and complying with regulations — on the vendor.
However, even with these agreements in place, healthcare systems still are at risk of failing to meet compliance requirements. To comply with HIPAA, U.S. Food and Drug Administration 21 CFR Part 11 and other regulations that stipulate the need to exercise best practices to keep electronic patient data safe, healthcare organisations must maintain comprehensive audit trails – something that gets increasingly difficult when data sits in an application that resides in the vendor’s infrastructure.
Additionally, data often does not stay in the applications – instead healthcare users download, save and copy it into other business intelligence tools, creating data sprawl across the organisation and exposing patient privacy to greater risk.
With so many of these tools that are meant to spur growth and more effective care creating compliance challenges, it begs the question: how can healthcare organisations take advantage of the data they have without risking non-compliance?
Yes, healthcare organisations can adhere to regulations while also getting valuable insights from the wealth of data they have available. However, to help do this, organisations must own their data. This means data must be backed up and stored in an environment that they have control over, rather than in the SaaS vendors’ applications.
Backing up historical SaaS application data directly from an app into an organisation’s own secure cloud infrastructure, such as AWS or Microsoft Azure, makes it easier, and less costly, to maintain a digital chain of custody – or a trail of the different touchpoints of data. This not only increases the visibility and auditability of that data, but organisations can then set appropriate controls around who can access the data.
Likewise, having data from these apps located in one central, easily accessible location can decrease the number of copies floating around an organisation, reducing the surface area of exposure while also making it easier for organisations to securely pull data into business intelligence tools.
When healthcare providers have unfettered access to all their historical data, the possibilities for growth and insights are endless. For example, having ownership and ready access to authorised data can help organisations further implement and support outcome-based care. Insights enabled by this data will help inform diagnoses, prescriptions, treatment plans and more, which benefits not only the patient, but the healthcare ecosystem as a whole.
To keep optimising and improving care, healthcare systems must take advantage of new tools like SaaS applications. By backing up and owning their historical SaaS application data, they can do so while minimising the risk to patient privacy or compliance requirements. Having this ownership and access can propel healthcare organisations to be more data-driven – creating better outcomes for everyone.