Will Apple, or Facebook, create a national medical marketplace for consumers?

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Both Facebook and Apple are interested in the healthcare market.

Apple’s “Health Records” app initiative is gaining momentum with almost 40 health systems joining in to provide patient data to the giant consumer company. Just two months after Apple launched its beta version with a dozen partners, 27 more providers agreed to participate, according to an article in FierceHealthcare.[1] “NYU Langone Health, Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals, Adventist Health System and Stanford Medicine are among the new participants.”[2]

Anyone using an iPhone who updates their iOS software to the latest version can access this new feature that allows customers the ability to view their medical records with the Health app. But writer Jeff Byers, in an article in HealthCareDive, asks the million dollar question: “If they build the product, will patients use it?”

That question is extremely relevant when 64 percent of Americans are delaying medical procedures due to costs and concerns about the ability to pay. Forty percent of all Americans aren’t even seeking medical services because they don’t know the price of those services and they don’t know if a provider will work with them or not on a payment plan.[3]

How useful is access to a record when you aren’t seeking healthcare services because you’re afraid of the price and you don’t have a way to find out the cost?

If Apple embellished the Health app with a “marketplace” component where users could shop for healthcare services and procedures, schedule those services and pay for them all from the app, then customers would have a reason to check their records as well. Apple could have that with the HealthQRS e-commerce marketplace app. Our solution could easily integrate with Apple’s existing app and together we could offer people a way to know, upfront, what the costs of healthcare services would be. HealthQRS’ solution is voice-commerce enabled. Users could ask Siri to schedule their appointments, adding an extra dimension of ease to the entire process.

Facebook is also interested in getting into healthcare. The social media behemoth had asked top hospitals to share patient data that was anonymous, including information on illnesses and prescriptions, according to an article in HealthCareDive.[4] Writer Jeff Byers says, “The effort never passed the planning phase, a Facebook spokesperson told the network, adding the company didn’t receive or analyze such data. Patient consent was not discussed in the early talks, according to the report.”[5]

No doubt, in light of the recent data breach, as Facebook tightens its systems, it will inevitably be able to handle the critical security necessary for patient data. And other technology companies will need to step up as well. According to HealthCareDive’s article, “trust of medical data isn’t just Facebook’s beast of burden. All technology companies looking to make plays in the space will have to act in good faith for the health of their users.”

Acting in good faith, of course, includes HIPAA-secure data. To take it to the next level, how about addressing the consumer’s cost concern? If you add the “wallet” to the mix, people quickly become interested. Moving forward, as Facebook works to show consumers good faith efforts, the HealthQRS application can help its users financially. A healthcare market that gives the 64 and 40 percent of people currently foregoing services the ability to see a doctor would be a big deal from a positive press perspective.

HealthQRS’ robust medical marketplace is set to help people who need lower cost options. Our solution allows consumers to connect to lower-cost services such as telehealth services and clinics.  Not only do we have an online marketplace that provides a full retail experience including accurate pricing (not just estimates), but we are enabling technology that provides telehealth connectivity as well. Our technology enables people to connect to more cost-effective, consumer-oriented healthcare options. If consumers opt for an in person visit, we can even help them find a ride to an in person visit, whether via Uber, taxi cab, or public transportation, for example.

Both Apple and Facebook have the opportunity to create a national marketplace for consumers. The question is: will they do it?

HealthQRS has over 12 years of experience developing healthcare retail experiences for people and our founders have over 50 combined years of e-commerce experience. Our E-Commerce Medical Marketplace Flyer provides more information. Click here to download the flyer. We invite you to contact us right now for more information or click here to schedule a demo.

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[1] Evan Sweeney, “27 more health systems join Apple Health Records platform,” FierceHealthcare, Mar. 30, 2018, https://www.fiercehealthcare.com/tech/apple-health-records-dignity-health-patient-access

[2] Ibid.

[3] “New CarePayment Research Shows Americans Can’t Afford Their Medical Bills,” Business Wire, https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20180214006069/en/New-CarePayment-Research-Shows-Americans-Can%E2%80%99t-Afford

[4] Jeff Byers, “Facebook confirms asking top hospitals for patient data,” HealthCareDive, Apr. 6, 2018, https://www.healthcaredive.com/news/facebook-healthcare/520786/

[5] Ibid.

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