With the dust after CDHCC conference last week settled it is time to sit down and review the notes on progress of consumer health IT.
I had chance to interview Mike Battaglia, Intuit's new VP of Healthcare Strategy & Business Development. Mike recently joined from Humana, where he headed consumer-driven initiatives.
Intuit's next step in healthcare follows Quicken Medical Expense Manager, previously reviewed by KevinMD and Medpundit. Here is what Intuit is adding to its healthcare product portfolio:
Connectivity with Health Plans and Providers
I do not know if I would really use Quicken itself if I could not download my bank transactions. Who has time to enter everything by hand? How easy is it to make an error? New product, called Quicken for Healthcare is announced in partnership with United Healthcare, Hewitt Associates and others. The most important new functionality is download and management of your medical claims data.
Trust is the Reason Intuit Will Be Successful
Surveys consistently show lack of consumer trust in incumbent healthcare institutions. Only about 20% believe health plans have their best interest in mind. With its huge footprint and genuine goodwill, Intuit is well-positioned to act as a trusted go-between between consumers and payors. There is nothing in it for Intuit to help deny a claim, on the contrary its value is in helping consumers get the best deal.
Pathway to a Personal Health Record (PHR)
The first step is parlaying Intuit's dominant position in personal finance into becoming the personal healthcare finance manager. The natural next step is using this claims data to construct personal (clinical) health record. The universal complaint of everyone in PHR business is how do you get the data in. Intuit may hold the key with claim downloads.
Healthcare Consumer Ecosystem to Rival RHIOs
I have written extensively about the lack of consumer representation in RHIOs. For the most part, RHIOs remain an effort "by, of and for" the incumbent institutional stakeholders. But Intuit has potential to use its product as a platform for a truly consumer-focused alternative to RHIOs. That is for those consumers who buy Intuit product.
Anticipation will Percolate into 2007
Intuit has an impressive plan but as always the proof is in execution. I see the biggest risk in the ability to get enough insurers onboard to gain critical mass for consumers. That is why hiring of a consumer-directed health plan exec like Mike Battaglia makes sense. Insurers realize they need a trusted intermediary but the devil is in details.
Consumer Health IT Investment Panel
Aside from Intuit and a multitude of startups touting their own piece of the puzzle, the most interesting indicator of where the industry is heading was CDHC investement panel moderated by Richard Forman of Health Venture Group LLC. Richard brought together Paul Sheils, CEO of Aetna Health Information Solutions, Chris McFadden, Managing Director at Goldman Sachs and Katy Henrickson, Senior Analyst at Forrester.
Katy Henrickson: Healthcare Must Learn from Retail
A recent Forrester study is eye-opening. They looked at how consumers rate their experience with websites across industries. The verdict: retailers did the best, healthcare did the worst. Apparently we are a long way from delivering the perfect (even good-enough) consumer healthcare experience. Another note: with growing transparency and loss of pricing power the role of health plans will change. The value / basis of competition will move into customer service and decision support.
Paul Sheils: It is All About Rules Engines on Claims Data
Apparently Aetna is working hard to prepare for being "hollowed-out" and "dis-intermediated" by transparency. They are hoping to do some serious claims data mining to find a reason for consumers to stick around. Paul acknowledges the lack of consumer trust and says health plans have too much baggage (Intuit is right!). They eye Intuit and Revolution Health with suspicion. But do they really have a viable alternative way to engage the new consumer? Have not seen it.
Chris McFadden: Individuals vs. Institutions Balance
Goldman sees the problem the same way as yours truly: health system built around the needs of institutions, not individuals. He is most interested in new entrants from the outside of the healthcare industry. Barbarians are massing at the gate. Who are they? What expertise do they bring? Banks with their transactions management expertise is one example. He does not see the power (and therefore stocks) of health plans suffer from this anytime soon. But watch out long term!
Notable Absense: Where are Physician Leaders?
What I did not see covered enough is the changing role of physicians in the consumer-driven healthcare. Let's not forget that healthcare happens between a patient and a physician and empowering individuals should include them both. I predict that consumer-driven tech success stories will be those that will appreciate this point and focus on helping patients and physicians collaborate. But I have not seen anyone at the conference articulating this sort of ideas.
BOTTOM LINE: This was an impressive review of consumer healthcare technology that demonstrated how early we are in the game and how much work remains.