The evolution of the financial services industry over the last few years provides a fascinating blueprint for the trajectory of several other major industries. Of these, healthcare is perhaps most deserving of a customer-focused makeover that provides more convenient services, increased affordability, and better longterm outcomes. In many ways, modern financial technology — fintech — offers a peek into tomorrow’s more advanced, client-focused healthcare industry. It’s important to consider what healthcare can learn from fintech. Here’s why.
Today’s Health Care Challenge: Value Instead of Volume
How do you not raise costs, even as you seek to offer a more refined product? Remember: A better product in this context is a better healthcare outcome and a longer life.
Healthcare must do what every other industry on earth is doing right now: innovating its way into the future, and as often as possible, putting the consumer first. Thankfully, the technology required to do all this has not merely come of age but has already found compelling use cases in financial services and fintech.
What health technology needs to do, in order to know how to serve modern healthcare needs, involves the following:
- More personalized payment options as well as financial planning
- Transparency in all processes, including pricing details
- Convenient and quick payment options, including mobile platforms
- Unimpeachable commitment to patient privacy and data security
Let’s look at how financial services got there first and what it’s helped invent and popularize that can meet these needs in the healthcare industry.
What Fintech Is Getting Right
Financial services companies all over the world provide a compelling roadmap for how to solve unmet needs through technology. They have focused on the challenges of educating and empowering people on financial and college planning, savings and checking options, and the variety of emerging, mobile-first banking, trading and savings apps. Apps like Robinhood, Acorns, and Digit have enjoyed significant success in an entirely new branch of mobile technology: FDIC-insured, built for mobile checking, saving and stock-buying experiences. They apply and appeal to seasoned financial customers and the uninitiated alike, often providing easy access to valuable resources and learning tools.
Recall that when Obamacare made its debut, one of its major missions was to raise public awareness of the long-term value of making investments in personal and community health — an argument the World Health Organization has also been researching and advocating for. Financial services and fintech are staging a similar type of consciousness-raising campaign. They want to give people ever-simpler tools for peering into their own financial lives, budgeting more wisely and thinking about savings in the longer term. The goal is to help people achieve stability for themselves, their families and their communities.
Here are some of the challenges banks and other financial services have been contending with as our technologies and infrastructure have matured:
- Satisfy the demand for mobile and on-demand services and transition away from legacy service models
- Accommodate a wide variety of mobile and nontraditional payment options
- Develop more flexible and transparent checking and savings products, as well as long-term asset management options that declutter a convoluted process
In some ways, fintech and healthcare services are the chicken and the egg. One could argue the first shot across the bow for innovation in healthcare delivery was the electronic health record — or EHR — which is now a legal requirement. These two vital industries have been in a sort of parallel evolution ever since in seeking a balance between accessibility, convenience, and security.
In financial services, the goal is to pursue informed decisions where personal wealth is concerned. Healthcare poses a similar and equal challenge — to help people become empowered to make wise health decisions and secure positive outcomes at a low cost. Here are the technologies bringing both of these admirable goals closer to reality.
Technologies in Fintech and Health, Today and Tomorrow
Smartphones represent the clearest application of modern technologies to the delivery of vital services. Thousand-dollar smartphones notwithstanding, mobile phone technologies are more inclusive and accessible than ever, and they provide the means for customers, payers, providers, third parties and other stakeholders to interact, collaborate on fruitful outcomes and share unprecedented quantities of data.
The smartphone has since yielded a more mobile society, a variety of cottage industries that tap into the technologies onboard the latest smartphones, the Internet of Things, and a dizzying assortment APIs and third-party tools. The goal is to tie everything together in the cloud and make data more visible and useful.
As the mobile-first transition was coming together in financial services, healthcare was also learning how to go mobile, with increasing opportunities for telemedicine to allow geographically isolated or physically incapable patients to meet with providers. There’s work to do in this front since there are still many underserved communities in the U.S. Before all this, fintech connected brokers with clients all over the world, facilitated faster transactions and approval times, and made the preparation and exchange of financial documents easier and more convenient.
In financial as well as health management, technology has lowered the barrier to entry and allowed more people to more completely and competently engage with their own futures and prospects. In fact, a large cohort of customers wishes to pay their bills using digital platforms. Among banking customers, 68 percent want to engage with their assets and savings online.
Unfortunately, a simple lack of willingness, or perhaps merely suspicion of new tools and methods, has been the big challenge in adopting these now increasingly necessary technologies in healthcare. More than three-quarters of healthcare providers still have paper based billing systems. The same surveys reveal that only 4 percent of leaders in healthcare systems are actively interested in expanding their mobile payment options.
We’ve seen a lot of encouraging progress, but clearly, there are still unmet needs here in both industries. Encouragingly, it looks like they might not be unmet for too much longer.