How formidable would Amazon be in pharmacy?

headache-1899227_640

Oops

I’m a big fan and customer of Amazon, having placed thousands of orders since 1998. I understand why retailers (and other businesses) quake in their boots at the thought of Amazon disrupting them. As a healthcare insider, I also understand why healthcare companies are especially nervous. Deep down, we understand that US healthcare is tremendously wasteful and inefficient and that Amazon could make the industry look bad and eat its lunch.

Still, I’m not convinced that Amazon is going to take over the pharmacy business, the latest topic of discussion. The Wall Street Journal (Amazon’s push into pharmacy is full of promise and pitfalls) has a piece and we’re also told that CVS’s play for Aetna is a direct result of the Amazon threat.

My own recent experience with Amazon left a bitter taste in my mouth and provided a glimpse of just how hard pharmacy could be. I don’t usually take painkillers, but the past three weeks have been an exception. Since getting hit by a car while crossing the street, I have been a pretty good customer for OTC pain meds. On a recent Sunday I noticed I was running out of ibuprofen, and rather than asking family members to do one more errand, I used Amazon to place a same-day order.

I pressed the button around 9 am, and was promised that my order would be at my doorstep by 9 pm. By around noon the item was “out for delivery” but it hadn’t arrived by 8:30 pm and I was starting to get a little worried. Nine o’clock came and went, and Amazon switched my status to “delayed.” Finally I had to ask my wife to go out to the pharmacy, which luckily for us is close by and open late. I would have had a difficult night without my refill.

Eventually Amazon canceled the order and said my address was undeliverable –a weird claim for a home that receives Amazon shipments nearly every day.

Most of the skepticism about Amazon’s entry into pharmacy focuses on new complexities like third-party payment, which are admittedly pretty serious. But my own experience shows that Amazon’s current infrastructure isn’t robust enough for the basics, so I definitely won’t be among the first to sign up for AmazonRx.

Of course Amazon isn’t the only one with shipment woes, and this experience was an exception to my usual good ones. Still, it gives me pause.


By healthcare business consultant David E. Williams, president of Health Business Group.

Advertisements

Health Wonk Review: Disaster edition

Welcome to the disaster edition of the Health Wonk Review!

Fire, fire everywhere

forest-fire-2268729_640

At Workers’ Comp Insider, Julie Ferguson focuses on response and recovery in the California fires. The cleanup of the toxic devastation poses enormous environmental health risks to fire fighters and residents alike.  She also offers a tribute to the workers who battled the fires, including a little-recognized segment –prisoners who volunteer for fire fighting duty.

Can it get any worse?

door-113355_640

Roy Poses at Health Care Renewal shares the Worst Revolving Door Health Care Case So Far.

After having followed and documented many instance of conflicts of interest and outright corruption affecting health care over the last 13 plus years, I am close to dumbfounded in response to the casualness that control of health policy and regulation is being handed over to top players in corporate health care who are most subject to these policies and regulation. 

Sabotage or bailout?

pliers-1031982_640

Leave it to InsureBlog to plumb the mysteries of the Trump Administration’s targeting of the cost sharing reduction component of the Affordable Care Act. It’s neither sabotage nor bailout we are told. It’s a clear look at the issues involved, but I do find Part 1 (why CSR is not a bailout) more compelling than Part 2 (why it’s not sabotage). Part 2 leaves out how the uncertainty created by Trump undermines the plans and asserts as a fact that the boost in premiums is comparable to what was happening on the exchanges anyway. It leaves out the broader context and other examples of sabotage.

#CareTalk – protecting the vulnerable

In this month’s episode of #CareTalk, CareCentrix CEO John Driscoll and your host, David Williams from Health Business Group chat about the recent hurricanes that have impacted the US and what can be done to protect vulnerable populations.

That’s it folks! A light edition but I’ll take quality over quantity.

#CareTalk: Is bigger better in healthcare?

In this month’s #CareTalk videocast, CareCentrix CEO John Driscoll and I square off on the theme of bigness in healthcare.

 

Here’s what you’ll see:

(0:26) Is bigger better in healthcare?

(1:49) What can smaller companies do to succeed in healthcare?

(3:24) How can healthcare companies find a balance between scale and intimacy?

(7:05) Will Amazon do something different in healthcare, as opposed to what Google and Apple have done?

(8:04) Will the Trump administration kill value-based care?

(9:15) Which is more overhyped: wearables or personalized medicine/genomics?


By healthcare business consultant David E. Williams, president of Health Business Group.

 

On the sidelines

Hi folks. I haven’t posted in a while. Here’s why: I was crossing the street (in the crosswalk) and was struck by a car. I’m recovering and will get back to 100% but am taking it easy for a while.

Screen Shot 2017-10-18 at 5.36.29 PM

Clinical registry solution market heads toward $2 billion

hand-982049_1920

Specialty medical societies such as the American College of Cardiology and American College of Surgeons sponsor clinical registries that collect observational data on patients with specific conditions or procedures, such as heart failure or joint replacement. This “real world” evidence helps hospitals improve quality of care, meet state and federal reporting requirements, and achieve pay-for-performance bonuses.

Q-Centrix, which provides technology and services that enable hospitals to participate in registries, commissioned Health Business Group to conduct a market sizing and growth study. We found that the market will reach almost $2 billion over the next five years. Q-Centrix is offering a complimentary download of the findings.

Clinical registries have been around for decades, but in recent years they have become central to achieving quality in healthcare delivery. Registries have proved their superiority over other approaches such as electronic medical records and traditional clinical trials, and are being embraced by accrediting organizations, commercial health plans and federal agencies such as FDA and CDC.

Hospitals continue to gain experience with registries and are deriving more and more value from them over time. However, in a digital, automated world, participating in registries is still a remarkably manual and time consuming process. Each patient record for the registry must be “abstracted” according to the specific requirements of that registry and then submitted securely and accurately. Some registries provide software tools to help, but even then the tool is only useful for a specific registry. That’s cumbersome for hospitals that participate in multiple registries, a big issue since hospitals often participate in 10 or more.

Hospitals have rationalized other manual, labor intensive administrative processes by outsourcing. Medical transcription is a good example, where the use of outsourcing and automation are now the norm.  The same approach is being taken in the registry world, which is why companies such as Q-Centrix are thriving.

At Health Business Group, we were excited to conduct research into this dynamic and growing market, especially since there was very little information published about the topic. To formulate our projections we reviewed secondary data sources, leveraged the Health Business Group knowledge base, and conducted interviews with dozens of hospitals, specialty societies, market experts, and industry participants. We also fielded an online survey of hospitals to develop a detailed understanding of industry trends and their root causes.

Health Business Group specializes in the assessment of healthcare markets and development of growth and M&A strategies for healthcare companies and investors. To learn more, contact us or visit our website.


By healthcare business consultant David E. Williams, president of Health Business Group.