September 5, 2007

THE REVOLUTION NEVER GETS PAST '76:

Launching A Revolution In Health (Steve Case 09.04.07, Forbes)

From my own personal experience, I've discovered that the complex maze of paperwork, uncertainty and confusion that marks today's health care system are merely symptoms of a much larger malaise that affects millions of consumers. The fundamental issue is that, at least in America, the nation's current health care model does not engage consumers to better manage their own health.

One way to cure this is to better align the health and health care industries. In the "staying healthy" industry, consumers today spend billions of dollars a year on gym memberships, fitness gear, fruits and vegetables, massages, acupuncture and personal trainers. This broad and diverse industry allows consumers to pick and choose from a variety of providers who are competing for their business. These businesses have to offer clear transparency, competitive prices and superior quality.

But something happens when you get a cold, or worse, and are plunged into the black hole of co-payments, insurance claims, preset doctor lists, HMOs, PPOs--and utter dysfunction.

The problem is that when most consumers get sick, employers and insurance companies usually pick up the tab. Meanwhile, the consumer is caught in the middle while these two competing forces try to minimize their expenditures. Most of the time, consumers have no idea how much their procedures cost, nor do they care--they're focused more on their own modest co-pay.

Though the challenges of the health care system seem daunting, I see two key trends that will cause major changes to the industry.

The first is the shifting financial burden for health coverage to employees. Consumers are now paying more for their health coverage, which means they are demanding more in return. It's simple economics that if people are paying extra, they will want a bigger role in the decisions about their health care.

The second trend is the increasing number of consumers who are concerned about living healthier lives. This is proved by their increased spending in the "staying healthy" industry. Not only are they buying, but consumers are also looking for more information about how to improve their health, fitness and wellness.

These trends and my own personal experiences with the health care industry motivated me to create Revolution Health with the hope that we could help catalyze a shift to a new system driven by consumers, shaped by market forces and powered by technology. It's an ambitious goal, but we believe that if patients are empowered, supported and informed, they can and will fix the system.


Posted by Orrin Judd at September 5, 2007 3:48 PM
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