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Uberizing Healthcare

BY LINDSAY BOYD

May 28, 2015 12:00PM

Innovation is a beautiful thing, wouldn’t you agree? In so many facets of our daily activities, we demand technology that vastly improves our quality of life. Imagine that just 10 years ago, the majority of Americans owned phones that flipped, had screens without Apps, were just learning the concept of TiVo, thought Yelp was a foreigner’s distress call, and had never heard of Uber.

With so many areas of our lives driven by cutting edge developments aimed at efficient, high quality customization to meet our unique needs and interests, why are we not demanding the same for our healthcare rather than a failing, inefficient, one-size-fits-all government model?

The healthcare frontier is loaded with possibilities. Rather than continuing to beat the drum of state-sponsored coverage that rarely equates to meaningful care, we should mainstream new innovations that drive down costs and generate more options at every income level.

Take the new App called Pager, for example. It’s an urgent-care, house-call service being called the “Uber for doctors,” which could drastically reduce costs by nixing unnecessary trips to the emergency room. Consumers are also presented with more affordable pricing before the exchange takes place, something that is nearly impossible to obtain from hospitals or urgent care centers prior to treatment.

If ongoing monitoring and care are your concern, consider Apple’s ResearchKit. Using current Apps ranging from heart-rate meters to ovulation monitors, ResearchKit aggregates data to provide a more comprehensive understanding of overall health. Google has also invested in similar ventures, launching 23andMe—a DNA-testing company that has a bank of genetic information—and Calico, which is focused on age-related diseases.

State legislatures should also start thinking innovatively about healthcare reform. Direct Primary Care is one option passed in 13 states, offering an alternative payment model in which fee-for-service incentives are replaced with lower, flat monthly fees that eliminate the middlemen insurance companies that inflate patient costs by over 40%.

Furthermore, Congress should also allow states to explore innovative solutions to programs like Medicaid, such as health savings accounts (HSAs) for enrollees, offer low-cost mandate-lite plans to younger adults, and encourage incentive-based programs for ongoing good behavior, performance, and wellness in place of traditional welfare. While proponents of extending government-run programs like Medicaid to more people are focused on mere coverage, the market is innovating care. It’s the latter that will revolutionize the health of all Americans for the better.