IBM’s Watson and the Business of Healthcare

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Recent articles about IBM’s troubles with Watson concern themselves with the lack of progress the artificial intelligence platform has made in the medical field. Maybe it’s time to focus on a key area in which Watson has the potential to make a big difference: the business of healthcare. After all, IBM’s middle name is business. Instead of tackling health issues, what if IBM addressed issues within healthcare, namely, helping consumers understand, upfront, their out-of-pocket expenses as well as helping providers get their money owed by consumers?

The state of healthcare collections is grim. Two out of three consumers aren’t paying their medical bills, according to a recent TransUnion Health study, and it’s going to get worse. “The trend of not paying off balances in full may only just be commencing. TransUnion Healthcare’s analysis projects that by the year 2020, the percentage of patients not paying their bills in full will rise to 95%,” states TransUnion.[1]

From grim to great through partnerships

For people who watch healthcare business closely, this isn’t news. We’ve been blogging for months now about the bleak state of provider collections. What could make headlines, though, in a positive way, would be a partnership between two companies such as IBM, or Salesforce, and HealthQRS, a platform that provides a medical e-commerce solution for consumers, providers, employers and payers. If IBM focused on the business of healthcare, it could make groundbreaking headway into an underlying cause of many of today’s healthcare woes: the inability of the consumer to pay.

Say, for example, IBM partnered with HealthQRS. IBM could implement HealthQRS’ e-commerce marketplace solutions for its corporate clients to build e-medical marketplaces for those clients to help them manage their healthcare costs and their employees’ healthcare costs. By bringing a medical e-commerce solution to its existing customers, IBM could cause tsunami-sized waves within the industry. Same with Salesforce, the huge customer relationship management solution. Imagine if Salesforce teamed up with HealthQRS to provide a medical e-commerce solution to its existing customer base?

Healthcare needs a solution that already exists

The healthcare industry needs to help consumers associate personal healthcare with their wallets and to take steps towards wellness as a result. The greatest behavioral change agent in healthcare is the wallet. As more consumers access healthcare via high deductible health plans, stakes go up for people to proactively take care of their health. When people start paying for their own healthcare, they become engaged in shopping for lower-priced services as well as taking preventive steps to stay well. Decisions to exercise, eat healthier foods, lower stress, suggestions the medical community have been giving for years, suddenly become real for people who have to pull cash out of their wallets to pay for their healthcare. And that MRI the doctor says you need? When you are paying 20% and upwards of the cost, it becomes important to know the price upfront.

Give people a way to understand how much their healthcare is going to cost before they buy. Give them a way to shop online for services and procedures and to take advantage of discounts for pre-paying. Give providers a way to help people pay upfront or set up payment plans. Everyone wins with a retail medical marketplace. IBM’s Watson could put its Jeopardy-winning brain to good use to pair up with HealthQRS and provide millions of consumers instant access to prices for healthcare services.

Medical e-commerce can transform the business of healthcare

An e-commerce strategy allows providers and payers to tell consumers exactly what it will cost them for any procedure or service. E-commerce allows instant scheduling from a mobile device. You can work with your consumers to set up a payment plan to help them pay you. E-commerce changes the experience and draws people into your storefront, i.e., your hospital or practice or your telemedicine. It helps payers because online shopping allows consumers to see a list of services and procedures, with the associated costs, so that they can make an educated choice.

HealthQRS ties it all together with our innovative, cutting edge technology. Our platform combines metrics from provider contract rates with payers, insurance verification, patient financial responsibility, payer claims adjudication logic, and in a millisecond, calculates the patient’s exact out-of-pocket expense. No one else is doing this. Our e-commerce strategy facilitates an online healthcare experience for consumers with shopping, scheduling and paying for procedures and services. People can find healthcare providers, services and procedures via smartphones, tablets or computers. Our powerful algorithms calculate the exact, true amount, not just estimates, that they will owe. We have over 12 years of experience developing healthcare retail experiences for consumers and our founders have over 50 combined years of e-commerce experience. We can have providers, payers or facilities set up in a matter of weeks at the point-of-service and online. And because we are a software as a service (SaaS), our customers don’t incur any capital expenses, only a low monthly fee.

HealthQRS can help you establish an e-commerce retail solution that will attract consumers and grow your market share. We can install retail solutions in your “storefronts,” i.e., your hospitals, clinics and practices, that allow your office teams to tell consumers exactly what they owe. You can provide automated alerts to patients for necessary preventive services they need as well as how much they will cost, and they can schedule and pay for those services right from the alert. These cutting-edge features are popular with employers and can serve as a marketing tool for your organization, helping you to expand your reach and become the “go to” facility for healthcare.

Consumerism is here. Isn’t it time for you to take advantage of this reality and utilize both an e-commerce and storefront retail solution for your patients? We invite you to learn more. Why not  contact us right now for more information or click here to schedule a demo? Or click here for a quick, 6-minute video about our e-commerce strategy.


[1] “Patients May be the New Payers, but Two in Three Do Not Pay their Hospital Bills in Full,” TransUnion,


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