Brandon posted a comment on my previous post about aggregators and health care that I thought deserved a thorough response.
First, let me say that I very much appreciated Brandon’s comment. This is such an interesting topic, and one that deserves much attention and discussion as all parts of the care delivery spectrum—providers, patients and their families and even lawmakers and regulators—determine how we can redesign our current health care system to provide the highest quality care at the lowest cost.
However, I believe that perhaps the metaphor of the travel industry was taken too seriously—there are many aggregators outside the travel sector, like EBay, Craigslist, and Google. We’ve been unable to find a good example of an aggregator within health care, but hope to be the first to establish some future models! Regardless, it’s clear that health care providers must take ownership of the need to connect the dots between the various points of service on an individual’s journey to maintain wellness and health, some of which will require health care services.
This will be a slow process, and probably happen on a region-by-region basis within the CHRISTUS system—we will not jump into an Expedia model overnight! But we may begin by providing service-line-specific or disease-specific or demographic-specific aggregators that link necessary services. All these partners may not be on the exact same computer platforms, but we can develop the necessary interfaces to link critical information to allow us to manage care across the continuum and to reduce cost. Imagine a cancer aggregator or a knee replacement aggregator – we may have to begin in a very informal and inefficient manner and take incremental steps forward, but if we align incentives correctly, we will improve service and reduce cost.
We’re trying to keep in mind that most great ideas—including the great aggregators we’ve run across in our research—were not initially intended to be aggregators. Great ideas like Broadcast.com were born by two guys who wanted to listen to college basketball games and turned their need into a multibillion dollar internet broadcasting business. The founders of Yellow Dog Fly Fishing did not set out to build one of the world’s largest flyfishing Websites (aggregators) in the world—they started by answering questions from people who wanted to flyfish in Montana, and have ended up with a service that brings together busy people who didn’t have the time or energy to research flyfishing trips with flyfishing services around the world that have been vetted and experienced. Aggregators must be able to overcome the barriers to coordinated care that health care providers in the U.S. have been thus far unable to address effectively and efficiently, and we believe that is a possibility.
That’s a very lengthy response to Brandon’s comment, but I look forward to continuing the conversation!