January 22, 2019 - 144 views|
The Walgreens-Microsoft partnership is yet another sign that consumer-centric healthcare is here. Here's how healthcare systems can join in.
We’ve been steadily predicting the formation of many unusual partnerships as the healthcare industry shifts toward consumer-centric healthcare business models. And our forecasts keep coming to pass: Think of CVS-Aetna, Cigna and Express Scripts and, of course, Amazon’s venture with JP Morgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway. Now we can add Walgreens Boots Alliance and Microsoft to the list.
We didn’t just pull these prognostications out of the ether. We saw that new diagnostic, therapeutic and technology innovations were driving the industry toward an on-demand consumer-to-business (C2B) healthcare delivery model. And we knew that the new business, operating and technology models required by a C2B healthcare industry would challenge traditional healthcare companies, encourage new entrants and drive new partnerships.
Further, for the consumer-centric healthcare vision to become a reality, we’ve been watching for what we call a “McHealth” approach to patient care. The healthcare entity that wins at McHealth will have the scale required to invest in technology and process innovation to create a consistent, predictable and frictionless consumer experience for routine care. The winner will also have the geographic reach necessary to disrupt healthcare markets across the country and drive the industry closer to a true C2B on-demand care delivery model.
By our measures, Walgreens provides the scaled geographic presence, healthcare know-how and distribution capability. Microsoft provides the technology innovation and the ability to help Walgreens build a digital backbone and the consumer-facing applications to deliver the experiences that today’s healthcare consumers demand.
Overcoming Challenges to Consumer-Centric Healthcare
But deploying McHealth on a wide scale could threaten the healthcare industry’s status quo. To survive – or better, join in – the disruption, healthcare systems must recognize and address the following issues:
Achieving Market Leadership
As is usually the case with these announcements, the Microsoft-Walgreens announcement was long on promises and short on details, aside from the important point that Walgreens will port its infrastructure to Microsoft Azure. Yet the key ingredients for McHealth-style disruption – economic scale plus the digital backbone needed to support innovations in technology, business models and customer experience – are there.
We think the first new entity to achieve a solid, frictionless, day-in/day-out McHealth execution for healthcare consumers will gain an important advantage. None will achieve that without addressing the obstacles above.
A final thought: Smaller and/or specialized healthcare organizations may have an outsized influence on McHealth. Just as big companies buy entrepreneurial companies to access and scale their operational models and capabilities, healthcare organizations that develop their own smart consumer-centric healthcare models may find they can influence the ultimate McHealth entities.