The number one fashion search on Google in 2015 was how to walk in heels. I hope my search did not skew the results. There are lists of top searches by category, and the leading searches in every category lead you to believe that if those same people are voting in next year’s election, the results may be skewed because many of the voters have the IQ of a bowl of mice.
Notably missing from the lists of searches are topics requesting information that couldn’t be found on either Cosmo or People. For example, nobody asked the proper naming convention to use when confronted with a terrorist; Are you with ISIS, or is it ISIL?
Speaking of fashion, my wife and I were finishing our Christmas shopping — I thought about writing holiday shopping, but we were Christmas shopping. We were being consumers. Actually, she was being a consumer, and I was simply the guy looking for a chair and constantly looking at my watch.
Consuming, by my definition, and in the context of this article means to purchase — as opposed to eat. We were going to consume shoes. Black heels, to be specific…more black heels, to be really specific.
“Would these shoes go with my outfit?” She asked.
Half of you reading this know that the rest of my day was now perched precipitously on a slippery slope. I cannot answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ without knowing which outfit we were discussing. I believed I was supposed to know, but my cognitive skills had been depleted several stores and many pairs of shoes ago. I suppose I could have pulled out a deck of Tarot cards, but any form of divination seemed inappropriate.
And so I asked, “May I have a hint as to the context of the occasion for which you would be wearing those shoes with the aforementioned outfit?” My question allowed me to sound engaged, and to do so without giving away the fact that I still had no idea as to which outfit we were discussing.
So perhaps you can see my quandary. Consuming, being cognitive, and knowing the context were each key factors in determining the measure of how successful I was going to be.
To be a consumer, it helps to know what you will consume, and in what context you will consume it. Hence, Meatloaf’s Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad does not make for a good fit. People — hint, consumers — need to align all three, consumption, cognition, and context, or they have nothing. The 3 C’s.
So, what does that say about healthcare? I am willing to bet there is not a single provider or payer in the U.S. looking at the intersection of cognition, context, and consumption. Evaluating consumerism, which is at least getting some lip service, will not deliver the results you need without incorporating healthcare’s cognitive and contextual requirements.
The CEO of a major U.S. health system recently tried to make an appointment for himself. Displeased with how that turned out, he’s gone shopping, and his shopping seems to be focused on buying call center technology — a cart before the horse solution.
Cognitive health, consumerism, and context begin and end with access. If you cannot answer your phones, all other considerations are moot. If there is nothing for a consumer to do online, all other considerations are moot.
Why is any of this important? Let us consider this question: What percentage of people actually know with some certainty their current health? I’m guessing that number is in the low single digits. And how many primary care physicians, health systems, payers and pharmacies actually know with some certainty the current health of any of the individuals whose health they oversee?
Most individuals think, I don’t feel sick therefore I must be healthy. I had a physical last year and was told I’m healthy. That does not seem like much information to bet the ranch on.
The only way to know with 100 percent certainty the current health of an individual would be to test that person every day for every possible illness. And that is a non-starter. On the other end of the spectrum is not knowing anything about the current health of an individual; also a non-starter.
We need to figure out how to effectively bridge the gap between knowing everything and knowing nothing. We would do better at managing someone’s health if we could call him or her each day and ask him or her: Did you take your medications today? What did you eat? Did you exercise? What is your blood pressure?
Obviously, we cannot do that. But we can ask those and other questions through the use of a customer portal. And the people we are asking can ask questions of us using that same technology. The technology exists — what doesn’t exist is the leadership needed to make it happen.
By 2013, more than one billion smart phones had been purchased. Those people want to be able to do more with those devices than call your call center. But they cannot, because healthcare, for the most part, has not given them a way to use them.