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Digital health has failed, but that doesn’t mean the future is hopeless

Virtually everyone can articulate one of healthcare’s myriad issues: it’s expensive, feels impersonal and corporate, and confronts people with cascading folios of options and choices they’re not prepared for. From my years of working in this space, I might summarize all these issues under the umbrella term of “uncertainty”—that is, the converse of assurance and peace of mind.

Uncertainty runs deep in this industry. Patients, sensing (correctly) that there’s no easy way to tap into the vast knowledge of healthcare services, feel like they’re going it alone in a web of complex coverage stipulations, referrals, specialists, and co-pays. About half of Americans source their healthcare coverage through their employers, and yet, 80% of employees say they’re confused about their benefits.

Feeling like a number in the system and far removed from the old national memory of the “hometown doc” who knows them well and understands their circumstances, patients don’t know what care options and services make the most sense for them as individuals. And rather than dive into the confusing mess themselves and possibly incur unplanned costs, many forgo the care they need altogether.

The patients aren’t the only ones who feel this way. Employers are also burdened under the weight of too many options and services that they don’t know how to navigate. Finding a provider package or insurance solution that’s valuable to their employees can seem nearly impossible, while the balancing act of quality vs. cost-effectiveness continues to churn out results neither party is thrilled about.


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