Fast and Smart - How Millennials See Healthcare's Future

Posted by Leonard Fuld on Jun 1, 2015 2:30:00 PM

Uber and Healthcare

The real headline for this post should be: Survey of millennials on Boston's waterfront depicts exciting, highly customer-centric healthcare services in just 15 years, driven by start-ups and lots of smart technology.

In a recent LinkedIn posting, I created what appears to be a fanciful view of the US healthcare market in the year 2030, just 15 years from today. My information came from a series of over 19 interviews with 43 individuals. Most of the respondents were in their 20s and 30s. Educated and opinionated are the two words I believe characterizes this assortment of lunch goers, considering the fact that I swooped down on them, often interrupting their own lunchtime conversations. I was particularly impressed with the thought they apparently had given the subject long before I ever entered their lives. It didn’t take much for me to draw them into the conversation about healthcare’s flaws and not-yet-achieved opportunities. They got it, no doubt about it. 

The survey conducted on Boston’s very popular Greenway park, adjacent to the financial district, was not intended to be statistically significant in any way. I asked four questions designed to evoke conversation, and that they certainly did.

“Same and different” is how I would summarize what I heard. These mostly 20- and 30-something lunch-goers felt that the big insurance and managed care organizations would still be here in 2030, as will the Affordable Care Act (ACA and often labeled, ObamaCare). What they said should and will change is the level of customer service and the outpouring of new companies into this market.

Here is what I heard and tabulated:

    1. GOVERNMENT: Will government privatize most of healthcare, even dissolving Medicare/Medicaid, forcing consumers to take care of most of their healthcare needs via private insurance and paying cash? Or, will the Medicare/Medicaid – Private insurance balance remain in place?

      Answers and Headline:

      Not Much Change! More than two-thirds (67%) believe that the working balance between Medicare/Medicaid and use of private insurance will remain in place. Only 33% believe the government will force total privatization.

    2. playersin2030

      INSURANCE/MANAGED CARE INDUSTRY: Do you believe that the companies currently in lead positions (e.g. BlueCross, Aetna, etc.) in the health insurance industry will remain the leaders in 2030? Or, do you think the future will have lots of competition from many new Google- or Amazon-like companies with new business models?

      Answers and Headline:

      Big Guys Remain and New Guys Enter. Nearly three-quarters of respondents (73%) believe that there will be a raft of new companies entering healthcare entering from the tech space. I heard examples, such as Walmart, Uber and others. Many saw that there was so much money in this market that it would be nearly impossible to think status quo would rule the day and that no new firms would try to improve healthcare's infrastructure, customer service (more on this below) and overall consumer experience.

    3. CUSTOMER SERVICE: Do you believe that getting answers to healthcare questions from your insurer or managed care organization will become even more difficult with long telephone wait times, or do you believe that the healthcare company of the future will turn on a dime, drop everything to answer your questions?

      Answers and Headline:

      Good Service Turns to iRobot: I heard a large number of very cynical responses to this question or just individuals who were resigned to "more of the same" type of ponderous, difficult to maneuver, complicated and arcane customer service models. In sharp contrast, nearly three-fifths (59%) believe customer service will improve remarkably by 2030. Those individuals said this would happen "with more automation and less human capital" or will "offer quality experience with the help of technology." They saw this new healthcare world of 2030 as giving them a great customer service experience without the use of people, period.

    4. OBAMACARE: Do you believe that ObamaCare will still be here in 2030?

      Answers and Headline:

      ACA is Here to Stay: A few of the millennials I spoke passionately about the ACA. "The ACA helps get us closer to universal healthcare, which is where the world is moving anyway." Or, "Coverage for all is important." For the most part, 62% simply said that it's just too big to budge and even if future Congresses chip away or alter pieces, by and large the heart of ObamaCare will remain intact.

Forecasts are often wrong. Though my feeling is that this informal survey touched on an interesting discussion with individuals who do not expect major power shifts. For instance, these millennials largely believe that many of the pieces will remain in place, ObamaCare and Big Insurance are among these pieces. The "but" - and it's a big but - they see dramatic change occurring around the edges via technology. These millennials envision an Uber-like or Amazon-like future in which technology unleashes much better customer service. They expect an onslaught of new tech companies to come to rescue some of healthcare delivery and overturn customer service. Not such a big leap.

Let's see if they are right.

Topics: Brand Insights, Scenario Analysis, Healthcare

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