Could the sharing economy successfully disrupt health care?

Posted on Jun 29, 2018 :: Guest Insights
Curt Kubiak
Posted by of Insight Publications

Have you ever stayed in a property hosted by Airbnb? Or taken a car ride with Uber? Just 10 years ago we would never have conceived of staying the weekend in a stranger’s home, or hopping in a private car for a ride to the airport. Yet this year over 100 million people will stay in an Airbnb, and Uber alone will deliver over 4 billion car rides. The hotel and cab industries, which were well established over many decades, had no reason to suspect that their business models could be overturned by upstart companies in a few years’ time.

But it’s one thing to change our vacationing habits and even our way of getting around town; we would never trust an upstart company with our health care……would we? Then again, under what circumstances might we?

It all starts with quality. This is the most important aspect of our lives, our health. We want the best quality we can afford with some assurance of good results. What if the “Uber of Health Care” offered a set of doctors and facilities that were vetted for quality to ensure that all doctors were board-certified and that all facilities were nationally accredited?

What if we could see facility metrics like infection rates, re-admission rates and post-operative emergency room visits?  With a quality standard set among the highest in the industry we could trust that we were getting high quality care. Like the drivers of Uber, the doctors that participate in the “Uber of Health Care” would live right in our community and may be doctors that we have known and respected for quite some time, but we could access them more easily.

Next, the cost component. One of the benefits of the Uber model is that you know the cost of the ride before you start and the tip is included. This concept puts the passenger at ease that the bill won’t be artificially excessive due to taking the long route to the destination, or an aggressive ask for a big tip at the end. Similarly, the “Uber of Health Care” would provide bundled payments known in advance and stand behind the work with a 90 day limited warranty. Patients could rest assured that they were getting high quality health care at a known, affordable price versus the multiple bills that show up in the mail weeks later.

Finally, and perhaps most impactful, the experience. Let’s face it, if an Uber ride or an Airbnb stay doesn’t go as planned the downside risk is measurably small. But in health care we want industry leading quality, affordable prices AND a great patient experience. What if patient feedback was available online to ensure that we could see what other patients had to say about their experience? What if the participating providers and facilities knew they needed to deliver a retail experience that patients have come to expect from every other aspect of their lives? The “Uber of Health Care” could deliver a harmonized-retail experience across all locations, close to home, accessible and affordable.

The sharing economy is an important part of our lives today, and it could become a part of the answer to rising health care costs for corporate America and all of us as consumers looking for affordable accessible health care experiences.

Curt Kubiak is founder and CEO of NOVO Health.