Does healthcare need a shot of caffeine? Lessons the industry could take from Starbucks & retail giants

Healthcare is all about the patient – in theory, but what about in practice?

A recent Forbes article shares the story of Stacey Lane, a woman diagnosed with a genetic disorder at a young age. Familial hypercholesterolemia, a disorder that drives premature cardiovascular disease, requires treatment for life. Ms. Lane is now in her 50s. While a testament to the impressive strides medicine has made over the past decades, she is also an example of healthcare's access barriers.

In one incident detailed in the article, Ms. Lane needed to make 23 phone calls to receive approval for a single drug. In a world where consumers can tap a few buttons on their smartphones and have laundry detergent at their homes within an hour (laundry detergent being just one example of what Amazon Prime Now can deliver), why is the industry that arguably has the greatest impact on people's lives so far behind?

And that really is the trillion dollar question; a question healthcare's top minds are working to answer. The Forbes article takes a look at the approach David Feinberg, MD, has taken. Dr. Feinberg, president and CEO of Geisinger Health System, based in Danville, Pa., is at the helm of the system's refund program for unsatisfied patients. "Could you go into Starbucks, order a latte, sip it, think it's not made right because you wanted soy milk, then say to the barista, 'I think you need to make it right,' and the barista sips it and says, 'No, we've made it right, and you have to drink it?'" he said in the article.  

Amazon puts products at people's fingertips and Starbucks strives to make the perfect cup of coffee, and both giants are just two examples of service-oriented companies. As healthcare continues to look for the answers to solve its problems, perhaps its leaders will remember to look to other industries.

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