How will Amazon and Walmart change healthcare?
With Amazon and Walmart entering the healthcare provider business, it is safe to assume the industry is in for some big changes.
For now Amazon Care will be beta tested with 50,000+ employees living in the Seattle area but you can only imagine that it will be soon available to Haven employees and then Prime members.
Healthcare entrepreneurs and legacy providers have so many questions and likely fears about what’s to come. Your guess is as good as mine.
However, you might get some insights by thinking through some of the questions that will likely surface during the beta test.
Questions such as:
1/ Is the medical information being shared sufficient to facilitate the continuum of care?
2/ What other types of services do employees need?
3/ What is the best way to deliver those services?
4/ Who is the best provider of those services?
5/ What medical needs are predictable?
6/ Are employees open to health and wellness product recommendations?
7/ What other medical products should be offered on Amazon to enable self-care?
8/ When do employees schedule in-person appointments?
9/ What are the most highly sought after appointments?
10/ Do we have enough contracted providers available to meet demand and service expectations?
Now think about what they do well, what they will likely buy and what they will likely need to complete the marketplace.
Amazon vs. Walmart:
As you likely know, Amazon and Walmart serve different customers and do so in a different way. Amazon operates a marketplace with the same type of product offered at different prices whereas Walmart strives to offer the lowest priced product to their customer.
Start by thinking about what Amazon offers all consumers:
1/ Consumers see the full marketplace of products relevant to their search.
2/ Results are displayed by most relevant.
3/ Filters can be used to narrow the options.
4/ Recommendations and reviews provide verified consumer feedback.
5/ Consumers can filter for products included in Prime.
Now think about how that translates to healthcare.
1/ Heathcare Consumers would see all licensed providers: contracted or not.
2/ Healthcare Consumers would be able to search and use filters to narrow their search.
3/ Healthcare Consumers would be able to read service details, reviews and recommendations.
4/ Healthcare Consumers could filter for providers included in [……..]
Amazon could administer other networks [Medicare and Commercial Networks] and/or develop a Prime healthcare network that resolves the confidentiality issues of existing networks.
Pricing + Contracting
With Amazon, it’s not necessarily a race to the bottom for healthcare providers. Prime rates are not always the cheapest but free shipping and the ease of dealing with Amazon customer service makes membership and the added cost worth every penny.
Healthcare providers should be thinking about who they serve and how to differentiate their serves in the marketplace.
Review your data to help answer questions:
1/ Why do patients choose you? Simply asking if they use Amazon or shop at Walmart might give you some good insights too.
2/ What do they say about the experience? Collect feedback about care and service separately.
3/ Do you have unpaid patient balances? Your patients may be underinsured or dissatisfied with your service or maybe your business practices need refining.
Commercial payers understand that it is not a one size fits all marketplace. If the patient population you serve puts a higher value on your care and services, they do too.