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By Monica E. Oss

October 23, 2010

Recently, I was out of the country and wanted to change my car rental reservation. So I hopped online and went the rental company web site – only to find out they didn’t have an online reservation system. I was both surprised and disappointed because my “consumer perception” is now that web-based self-service is the best customer service. Changing technology has given us the ability to have more control in many areas of commerce – including the health and human service field. To use a well worn phrase, competitive organizations in our field will need to think more about how to help customers “have it your way.”

Perhaps you think that the customer service technologies for the Hertzs and Burger Kings of the world are markedly different than those available in health care. But, in reality, the technologies are the same – only the adoption rate has been slower in health care. And now that consumers are paying a bigger proportion of the health care bill, and have become accustomed to technology-enabled easy-to-use customer service, the most market-driven organizations in the health care field are getting on board with improving their consumer interface.

What health care organizations, you may ask, are offering these services? Below, I’ve provided a short list of some of the sites (this is not endorsement, nor a comprehensive list) that present the types of technologies that I see as game-changers for provider organizations.

  • Bayview offers its LiveCare option, with consumer access to therapists on-line and scheduled through their web site.

  • Murray Hill Medical Group has created an on-line patient portal that permits on-line scheduling program, prescription refills, and secure messaging with physicians in the practice.

  • Cleveland Clinic MyConsult has an online medical service that connects anyone, anywhere, to Cleveland Clinic physicians.

  • DestinationRx is a free online tool that gives consumers lower-cost alternative medication options and price comparisons.

Will these organizations and their consumer-driven technologies replace the business at most traditional facility-based health care provider organizations? No. But, these organizations will likely be successful in getting a proportion of available consumer business  – and they will change consumer expectations.

For provider organization management teams, the issue will be trying to find new market positioning in this consumer-enabled environment where consumers are going to have it their way.


Monica E. Oss
Chief Executive Officer, OPEN MINDS


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To read more, see: Using Technology to Facilitate Consumer Self-Care & Consumer Choice in the Behavioral Health Field all members 

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