Opinion: Healthcare Needs a New Way to Approach Technologies

December 10, 2020

We need a digital platform approach that meets healthcare consumers’ demands and leads to a system that’s simpler, more affordable, and more accessible.

A healthcare journey is one of the most personal experiences we face. And yet, individuals encounter a healthcare system that can be difficult to navigate and is disconnected. This is partly due to the industry’s slower adoption of technologies that keep consumers at the center of everything.

Health consumers deserve better. They deserve a simplified and enhanced healthcare experience that is personalized, predictive and proactive. This is achievable through advanced, integrated and tailored digital tools implemented via a platform approach, which puts the consumer at the forefront. With a platform approach to healthcare there is an opportunity to help lower costs, increase access, and improve outcomes for individuals and the entire health structure.

Simply put: We need a digital platform approach that meets healthcare consumers’ demands and leads to a system that’s simpler, more affordable, and more accessible.

A platform is a business strategy based on orchestrating interactions between producers and consumers. In short, the overarching purpose is to match users and facilitate the exchange of goods and services, thereby creating value for all participants. The concept has existed for some time now, but with technological advancements we are seeing platform models move rapidly from physical to virtual space, ultimately transforming society as we know it.

For too long, healthcare organizations have relied on legacy information technology systems that resulted in a disjointed collection of servers, data silos, programs and applications, resulting in a healthcare experience that is hard to navigate for everyone involved. A platform approach is the opposite. It’s an open arena in which the most innovative ideas and the most pressing needs are brought together and easily integrated into a whole. We don’t just need to be building more tools; we need to be finding new ways to build them in the first place.

Taking a platform approach has revolutionized many industries. In fact, a majority of the top 10 global companies – by market capitalization value – use platform approaches. Take ride-sharing services as an example. The platform model used by leading ride-share providers allows for greater connection between drivers and consumers and enables expansion and rapid growth from car rides, to scooters, to food delivery all in one ecosystem.

Now imagine that real-time, enhanced, seamless approach in healthcare. By bridging the healthcare silos and anticipating and addressing consumer needs, we can put consumers in the driver seat of their healthcare. The digital platform strategy allows innovators to build tomorrow’s healthcare, today. This connected system makes interoperability possible across data and systems, both inside and alongside the organizations that maintain that system facilitating a nimbleness that leads to innovations that can occur with best-in-class business partners.

What this means for stakeholders, like consumers and care providers, is that they will have an enhanced experience. Providers have access to their patients’ data to deliver care that is more proactive, and with access to connected digital services, such as health apps, consumers will receive more personalized health information and recommendations.

A platform approach allows digital tools to optimize human care interactions, rather than add to them. It creates a digital environment for the progression of care where people have digital tools powered by technologies such as artificial intelligence in their own hands that better enable them to engage with their providers through telemedicine or virtual care and in-person when they need them most.

The real power of the platform model comes from the data-driven insights that approach fuels. Rich data on consumers and suppliers enables leaders and decision makers to identify the true needs of the consumer, and then curate the experience to offer the right services to the right people.

Improving people’s health and wellbeing should be the mission of all those engaged in healthcare. Healthcare works better when it’s simpler — and that happens when all its parts work together, in ways that are easier and responsive for the people who depend on them. Creating a platform model to make that possible may look very different from the concept of a “health provider” or “health insurer” we all grew up with. But the spirit that spurs innovation and connects people with the help they need has been around as long as healthcare itself.

Author Rajeev Ronanki serves as chief digital officer at Anthem, Inc. Ronanki is leading the transformation of Anthem to become a digital/AI-first enterprise through driving the vision, strategy, and execution of Anthem’s Digital, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Exponential Technology, Service Experience, and Innovation portfolios.