When They Go Big, We Go Small

When They Go Big, We Go Small
By Sanjiv Luthra

Mergers like the one approved today between CVS and Aetna are consolidating the industry, but let’s not lose sight of the patient’s voice.

Mark your calendar – today’s news of the $69 Billion merger is not just a huge number, it’s also one more BIG step in the consolidation of the healthcare industry. It’s also another example of how huge companies are crossing boundaries. Remember when Apple was a computer company? When Amazon sold books? Well, in the not too far off future, you may forego your GP and go to CVS for medical care. That’s a long way from the country doctor who made house calls, and even from your GP, who you’ve been going to for years.

There’s no point being nostalgic, or trying to fend of the march of technological innovation. But there are ways in which we in the healthcare industry can still really listen, really know our patients, individually.

Pharma companies, insurers, pharmacy chains – they all want to get more insights into patient behavior. Often, these insights come from looking at prescription refill history, and at intersections where healthcare providers and patients meet (hospital and doctor’s visits, insurance claims, etc.). But to really – really – know patients, there’s nothing like being there with them, as part of their everyday lives.

At Medisafe we have the privilege of being invited by patients to go along on their journey. People use the Medisafe app to note exactly what medications they’re taking, exactly when. Moreover, they report their health measurements, like heart rate, blood pressure and so on, and even often keep a diary of their symptoms and how they’re feeling. We alert people to potentially dangerous interactions between two meds they are taking and educate them about their meds. Many thousands of Medisafers reach out to us, write to the company and provide feedback on their experiences, provide testimonials, and make requests and suggestions.

Unlike healthcare behemoths like insurance or pharma companies, and even drugstore chains, which are often seen wearily, even critically, by patients, because they might seem to be profiting off of them, Medisafe is often perceived more openly and warmly.  The vast majority of people who use Medisafe use the free version of the app, and those who pay around $35 a year for the premium subscription usually think it’s worth it. We are the friendly helper in their pocket – always there to buzz them to remind them to take their med, offer information on their meds or encouragement, and help them keep track of how they’re doing.

Technological advancement is bringing consolidation in healthcare and blurring lines. But it is also an opportunity to build strong, lasting relationships with patients, if done right – by keeping our sights on the patient’s voice and building trust.