The power of digital health can be the connective tissue that bridges the disconnected aspects of care and information—transforming WOW into a clinical tool.

“The doctor will see you now.” 

Herein lies a fundamental problem in medicine today. The epicenter of care is the sacrosanct physician, who—while fundamental and essential to care—creates a service structure that focuses more on the provider than the recipient of care. 

However, the doctor as king is rapidly becoming yesterday’s notion. Even so, we still have a strict hierarchy where attendings rule over fellows, who rule over residents, who rule over interns, and who all give “orders” to define a care path. This care path is long and difficult and it doesn’t seem to drive any real level of acceptance. Both patient and caregiver are not very pleased. So, we have the worst of both worlds.

At the heart of the problem is the fact that the majority of physicians have no desire to change this. They’ve put so much into their careers that many feel they have the right to expect to be catered to. So, this customer-centric transformation will be born of the consumerization of healthcare—and who controls the wallet. Until docs feel the financial dent directly from patients in some manner, they will continue to see them as patients and not part of a new health ecosystem.

“The patient will see you now.”

No, wait.  I think we can do even better… 

The customer will see you now!”

That’s a driving force—customer delight—in many aspects of business. And medicine is starting to catch on. But before we look into the physician office or hospital we need to stop and look at some consumer brands to get a sense of the “WOW” that drives engagement and success. Translated into clinical terms, that can mean superior compliance and even that key word—outcomes. But in this case, they can be kicked up a notch if they’re accomplished in the context of the “WOW” of Amazon or even Disney.

WOW as a Clinical Tool

Clinicians can all relate to patient motivation—or the lack thereof. The challenge to drive weight loss, stay compliant on drug therapy, or move a patient from the couch to the gym is daunting. Perhaps the task is so difficult that some healthcare providers shift the burden of motivation exclusively to the patient or caregiver. It’s a significant problem for many stakeholders—ranging from clinicians to the pharmaceutical industry. 

Disney knows how to do it. So does Amazon. For Disney, expectations are high. Every child and parent knows the wonder and WOW that a trip to Disney will bring. Simply put, it’s going to be spectacular. And that sets a tall order for the company.

In an ironic twist, our healthcare expectations are similarly set. But in the case of healthcare, it’s skewed to the negative. Simply put, it’s going to be horrible. From the ER to the long wait for an office visit, healthcare is no Disney. And I’m not sure which is worse—setting expectations very high (Disney) or having them very low (healthcare experience).  But in the case of Disney, they find the WOW in almost every touch point of the experience. Every face-to-face experience is a moment of truth that can build or destroy the engagement. And again, there’s an inherent aspect of this success formula that is very fragile. A lack-luster or disappointing experience at Disney can define the entire experience and suck the joy right out of WOW! Yet Disney prevails, time and time again.

And then there’s Amazon—which defines a new era of customer WOW with engagement strategies that might just move beyond customer delight and live more in the context of "mind reading".

Yes—I did say mind reading.

A recent patent was approved for anticipating and shipping new orders prior to the customer’s awareness of need! Talk about WOW!  This gets right to the central aspect of healthcare—a proactive plan for preventative care that can predict need and intervention.

So, since everyone seems to like lists, I thought I might build one of my own. Here are some of the 30,000 foot ideas to help establish and nurture the WOW in healthcare. It’s a tall order, but the need is urgent and one prescription for success is a little pill called WOW.

The WOW Manifesto—Driving Customer-Centric Healthcare

Can digital health spark the magic?

While digital health can play an extraordinarily technical role in health and medicine, the WOW we need here can be found in one word—connectivity.

The power of digital health can be the connective tissue that bridges the disconnected aspects of care and information. You don’t need to go any farther than Disney to get a sense of how technology crafts a uniquely personal and human experience. Disney isn’t defined by technology—yet it’s created and very dependent upon the techno-illusion. And while Mom, Dad and the kids are seduced by this experience, they quickly adapt and accept the “burden of tech”—such as RFID wristbands, video surveillance and audience profiling. It’s rare to see a complaint about this intrusion—unless, of course, it’s not masked by the WOW.

And here is the fundamental reality about digital health and driving patient delight—it’s invisible

More importantly, it’s not the technology—but the emotional result that empowers and transforms the lack-luster clinical experience into a moment of care and a moment of WOW.  Of course, much of the clinical journey can’t be forced into a happy moment. But a care path that is punctuated by appropriate information, compassion, joy and even a bit of WOW can help transform medicine. And digital health may very well be the pivot that provides the basis for change. It’s time to embrace the importance of clinical outcomes and add the power of WOWcomes to help make that happen.