To truly understand the problems this country faces in health care and primary care in particular, we need to break down what this care is at its core. Health care is essentially a relationship between two individuals a provider and a patient. Even more fundamentally, as a business, healthcare is a trillion dollar service sector industry. It is also a service sector industry that is giving terrible service. It is giving terrible service at exorbitant prices that far exceed what is available in other countries. These exorbitant prices are rising well beyond the level of inflation every year in spite of this terrible service. Despite these circumstances the providers who are providing the service are struggling financially even though they are charging extremely high prices.
Amazingly this trillion dollar service sector industry in 2010 does not interact with its customers through the internet and it is an industry that is devoid of choice. Imagine if a business gave out debit cards to their workers for the last 20 years and told them that they could only buy their clothes at Ross or their food at Denny’s. What do you think the apparel industry or food industry would look like after years devoid of choice?
Because there is no choice in the health care industry there is no incentive to focus on patient choice or in providing difference experiences for the patient in the design or the environment in which health care is provided.
In the United States you can get a latte, a meal, and married through a drive through window, but it will take a woman a thousand dollars, six hours in the emergency room, and another hour waiting at Walgreens to be treated for a simple urinary tract infection.
Because the health care industry doesn’t interact with its customers through the internet it is not focused on IT solutions that could enhance this relationship between provider and patient.