Interesting interview from CNBC with Nworah Ayogu, chief medical officer and general manager of Amazon Clinic, in which he looks to differentiate the approach that Amazon is taking in its various healthcare initiatives.
A key precept, Ayogu says, is moving away from medicine's traditionally "paternalistic" positioning in which "care can be a thing that we do to patients rather than with patients or for patients." Amazon, he says, believes that the patient also needs to be seen as a customer, "the person you’re serving, that’s the person who’s making the decisions, and it’s a different phrase, right? It kind of shifts the power dynamic where the customer is the one who is deciding what happens, they are directing things, and the rest of us are going to serve the customer … It’s a frame that I like because it puts us in kind of a servant mentality and mindset."
"At the end of the day, all patients, all customers, all people want to be healthy,” Ayogu tells CNBC. "The reason why they’re not healthy is because the health system has all these barriers, so whether that is cost, confusion … some are societal, some within the health-care system, so that’s really on us to remove those barriers and think through how we do that … We’re only three years into this journey writ large, but when we think about what we’re trying to do, it’s really about making it dramatically easier for customers to find, to choose and to afford the products and services they need to get and stay healthy."
CNBC reports that "Ayogu noted that Amazon has hundreds of millions of people using its products and services each day, and that’s a good place to begin to disrupt the health-care status quo. 'To me, it was really about thinking through if we can have just a fraction of those people, if we can impact them, that’s such a massive scale to do good, so it’s really being able to zoom in and think through how we can use those resources and point those toward health'."
- KC's View:
This is very much in line with Amazon's traditional and disruptive approach, though perhaps a little out of the current "cost cutting" lane that Amazon seems to have been prioritizing lately.
I'm not completely on board with the idea that companies like Amazon, Walmart, CVS and Walgreen are best positioned to offer front-line healthcare services. They may be best positioned to disrupt traditional healthcare systems, but that is a very different thing.
I also recognize that I'm not the best person to make these judgements. I have a general practitioner who is terrific. While her practice is part of a hospital system (Yale New Haven), she operates like an old fashioned family doctor. (Think Burt Lancaster in Field of Dreams, except that I have no idea if she can hit major league pitching.). Most importantly, I completely trust her, and am happy to be treated like her patient, not her customer.
But not everyone is so lucky.