May 17, 2020

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

Health Tech
Patient Care
3 min
Uber connects you with a driver in minutes. The health care industry could learn from this direct approach. (Photo courtesy of Uber)
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...

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.”

[READ MORE] Is Concierge Medicine the New Primary Care?

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.

[READ MORE] TOP 10: Most Innovative Health Care Startups to Watch in 2015

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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Jul 23, 2021

Microsoft launches Tech for Social Impact for elderly care

2 min
Microsoft launches Tech for Social Impact for elderly care
Microsoft's programme will make innovative tech accessible to non profits in the elderly care sector around the world

Microsoft Tech for Social Impact, the tech giant's division offering tools for non profit organisations, has announced it is expanding to include aged care non profits around the world. 

This means that non profit organisations helping elderly residents in nursing homes or with other daily support will now be eligible for technology grants and discounts of up to 75%, as well as training and capacity building to help with digital transformation. 

The care home sector has been one of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, caring for some of the most vulnerable people in society. As a result organisations around the world have been deploying innovative technologies, such as IoT to create monitoring solutions that enable independent living, through to AI-driven robots that provide companionship as well as alert the user's care team if there are any changes to their symptoms. 

The German Red Cross (DRK) is an early adopter that is already benefitting from this programme expansion as part of Microsoft Tech for Social's pilot scheme.  DRK provides services and assistance to over 40,000 people at more than 500 aged care facilities in Germany, with a further 90,000 receiving care in their own homes. 

Thanks to Microsoft 365 cloud technologies such as SharePoint and OneDrive, along with Teams for communication, DRK was able to continue its daily work even at the height of the pandemic crisis. Residents of DRK facilities used Teams to keep in touch with relatives despite restrictions to visits, and there are plans to continue using these channels in the future to prevent isolation among residents. 

Following the pilot’s success, the programme will offer discounts and grants to eligible organisations for its Microsoft cloud stack including Business Applications, Azure and Modern Work,  leveraging the firm's sector-specific tools with Microsoft Cloud for Nonprofit which will be generally available in the second half of 2021.

Microsoft estimate that around 75,000 new non profit organisations around the world will be eligible for the programme. 

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