When I buy a book on Amazon or Flipkart, I can see the ratings and comments by hundreds of customers. But when I need to choose a doctor, I have to rely on the inefficient and inadequate method of asking friends, with whom I may or may not want to share my ailments. This is true whether I am trying to find a GP or a surgeon. And, after seeing the doctor, there is no way for me to rate him or her even for mundane things like whether or not he shows up on time to the clinic, let alone more important comments regarding his or her approach to medical care! In contrast, I can easily find gigabytes of information about whether the keypad of a particular laptop model becomes sticky after use.
Another point to consider: Different people look for different things from a doctor: some may want the reassurance of the (imagined) old time family doctor, while others may prefer a “just give me the facts, I’ve brought my own sugar coating” approach. Why assume that we have the same expectations from doctors while we have entirely difference preferences for the texture of our cookies or the settings on our Facebook accounts?
Much of the discussion about modernization of medicine gets stuck in technology discussion (digital versus human interface). However, what we need is a thorough modernization of medicine inside out, seriously thinking through which aspects of medical care would benefit from more information (including customer feedback) and which aspects would benefit from more customization and personal preference being taken into account.
Industry experts focus on customer segments and behavior for FMCG consumer products, but what about customer segments for the ultimate consumer product – medical care — the one that determines our life and health? Isn’t it about time that the medical services industry starts thinking beyond the simplistic considerations of digitization of patient records, or focus on specialized clinics versus primary care, rural versus urban customers?
(Richa shares her thoughts on rural businesses at ‘Stirring the Pyramid’)