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Alison Diana, InformationWeek
Alison Diana, InformationWeek
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Healthcare's Next Phase: Think Amazon

Patients want an Amazon.com of healthcare, a single source for all information about insurance, prices, and availability, says a PwC report.

The same digital wave that transformed industries ranging from music to taxi service is consumerizing healthcare, and it could create a new market leader.

That's good news for patients, who can expect more transparency, lower costs, and improved efficiencies, Chris Wasden, managing director of US healthcare strategy and innovation practice for PwC, told us. Established healthcare providers might no longer be patients' de facto suppliers of care. New entrants -- ranging from entrepreneurial startups to telecommunications companies, retailers, athletics firms, consumer products businesses, and more -- have entered the fray, with more expected to target this $2.8 trillion opportunity, Wasden writes in "Healthcare's New Entrants: Who will be healthcare's Amazon.com?"

[ Mad Men, Insurance and Change. ]

"Changing the status quo is difficult and painful to do, and most people don't want to go through the challenge," he said.

About two dozen companies in the Fortune 500 are new entrants to healthcare, PwC reported. They include Ford, which will monitor drivers' health via sensors in the seat; clinic-operating retailers such as Walmart, Walgreens, and CVS/Caremark; and the telehealth provider Verizon.

Like some large corporations, patients are eager for change. In a recent study, participants were asked about using an at-home kit to diagnose strep throat or administering chemotherapy at home. About 50% said they'd use these lower-cost services, and about 59% said they would choose a home or online option for minor services, such as having a rash evaluated, according to the PwC Health Research Institute (HRI) study. More than one-third would consider online or home services for even more sophisticated treatments such as infusion therapies.

[ Read the rest of this article on InformationWeek. ]

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