This article originally appeared in Real Business
At best, mainstream healthcare services offer ‘sick care’ rather than better healthcare. Would things change if we looked at them like any other business, and went for a rebrand?
Our healthcare can ironically be described as a good ‘sick-care’ system. Better healthcare means moving beyond a set of transactions and requires organisations to take on a more active role in the life-long journey that is healthcare.
Can the healthcare industry be rebranded?
This shift can take multiple forms and a simple brand exercise can provide the freedom and creativity to rethink the healthcare experience whilst keeping the consumer in focus.
Failing to challenge legacy assumptions will build distance between the brand and the target audience as that audience evolves and grows.
Today, the global healthcare industry suffers from a perceived inefficiency. It’s often criticized for fragmentation, price-gouging and a lack of transparency.
Organisations today need to reassess consumer expectations, map out consumer behaviour and build new experiences accordingly.
Start with the brand – finish with a better service
The brand will not provide the answer to every problem, but it can provide a solid framework with which to ask the right questions. Is empathy the cure that consumers really need?
Empathy is foundational to any branding exercise.
It requires asking the right questions to understand what the audience needs. These questions encourage a reassessment of whether the experience being delivered is working in the here and now.
What kind of personalised health experiences are consumers demanding?
Are consumers ready for virtual health? Can it support ongoing health management? How can technology be used to save costs and increase global virtual capacity?
What technology is worth investing in?
Is it more important to assist in symptoms or advise on treatment options? How can technology complement healthcare professionals? What can it do on their behalf in order to free them up to focus on medical innovation?
Are consumers ready to feed medical records into connected systems? How will they be reassured against cyber-attacks?
How much direction do they need in choosing what technologies work for them?
From such questions we can see that, for better or worse, technology brings previously undreamt-of levels of choice.
Choice is a double-edged sword…
Will technology revive the industry’s health?
Technology is an enabler of a more intimate relationship between organisations and their consumers, but it remains tricky. We have yet to prove its mastery.
It begs us to continually pose the question, are we advancing technology or people?
Businesses that are breaking the healthcare mold
Yes, our use of technology is a grave and sobering responsibility, but it is also a shining opportunity. Take ‘FreeStyle Libre’ who’ve designed a continuous and discrete system that liberates consumers from the hassles of glucose monitoring.
Consumers are notified through an app on their phone in the case of a surge or dip in glucose levels. – Proactive. Predictive. Preventative.
They’ve revolutionised the experience. More convenient even is that consumers can easily share results and trends in real-time with healthcare professionals.
If that’s not enough they’ve also made the experience less painful- why prick when you can scan? A different kind of pain is found in the health insurance industry, and ‘Oscar Health Insurance’, is clearly doing something different with their simple and snazzy user experience…
They allow customers to browse what they’re paying for and customise their own insurance plans with professionals within their network- redefining an unwaveringly complex industry (WSB study).
‘HappyMed’ are using smart audio/visual technology to reduce consumer fear and stress levels during procedures. They’ve clearly adopted a wider definition of healthcare.
Just look at ‘iHeart’ designed by VitalSines, the core tenet of the experience promotes consumer health.
Through a Bluetooth sensor and an app, they identify a person’s internal age, which depending on lifestyle choices can be quite different from chronological age.
Are we on the verge of a paradigm shift in healthcare?
Be it through positioning themselves to intervene sooner in the lives of their consumers or by distinctively inspiring better health, these organisations are coming closer to tackling the underlying problem namely the role and relationship healthcare brands can have with consumers.
These health companies are being predictive rather than reactionary, empowering rather than paternalistic and quite simply, involved sooner rather than later.
There is a well of potential to dip into, and healthcare brands can and should grow from a position of strength to capture it.
At greater scale, it can restore public faith and enhance the capacity to garner greater participation in clinical trials.
While more real-time technology can drive personalised behavioural changes by consumers and extend the scope of medical research. Rather than a set of disconnected components and systems, one consumer-centric model could promote greater collaboration and innovation across the value chain.
The simple truth is that better healthcare rather than better sick care will generate value far beyond the immediate and the measurable for organisations and consumers alike.
These three considerations might accelerate the pace at which we get there.
- Ask good questions and challenge existing assumptions.
- Take a holistic/root-caused/consumer-centric view and deploy empathy at every turn.
- Embrace fresh thinking and turn interactions into engagements that generate mutual value. Only then perhaps, can branding help save lives.