What The Soccer World Cup Can Teach Us About The Future Of Healthcare
As the qualifying round of the Soccer World Cup winds to a close, we’ve once again been reminded of the joys of the beautiful game, and how it can, for a short time, bring the world together. As we await the knockout rounds ahead, I couldn’t help but think about some of the parallels between the world’s most famous futbol tournament, and a changing healthcare environment that like the popularity of the beautiful game, doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.
Working as a team is critical.
The Soccer World Cup has seen its share of feast-or-famine results from relying on a star. Argentina, with the great Lionel Messi, struggled mightily early on. Portugal, featuring Cristiano Ronaldo, rose early in qualifying but struggled late, when its star had a rough game. Germany won the 2014 World Cup by playing well as a team, with a precision attack that was greater than the sum of its parts. Today’s hospital systems have to operate with a similar approach and philosophy. While you can be known as the top system for heart disease, cancer or other chronic conditions, it’s the practitioner-patient relationship dynamic that often winds up being far more important to keep patients for the long-term. At a recent conference, the Cleveland Clinic talked about the importance of empathy, and what that means to a patient. Across any healthcare organization large and small, everyone has to be on the same page to provide a consistent, quality experience.
Technology is changing the game.
Healthcare isn’t the only industry being disrupted by technology. For the first time, a Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system is being used in this year’s World Cup to help referees with clarifying decisions and on-field calls. When and how it is applied is largely up to a referee’s discretion, which has created much fan backlash during controversial moments of the tournament. In healthcare, disruption means a completely re-designed healthcare process whereby much of the intake experience is online, connected devices can monitor health when a patient is not in front of a doctor, and onsite equipment and technology has been significantly upgraded from the medical offices of the past. Much like at the World Cup, this technology adoption isn’t without its detractors. Enough has been said about patients wanting more interaction with their practitioners, not less, making it critical that technology enhances, rather than detracts, from the process.
It’s all about the experience.
Much like other large sporting events on the world stage, significant focus and attention have turned to the fan experience at the World Cup. As only a select few can actually attend the games, large-scale viewing parties and fan experience areas dot the landscape around the tournament, where thousands of additional fans can feel like they’re a part of the event, too. In their own way, healthcare providers are going through a similar evolution around experience. As patient out-of-pocket costs continue to rise, this has raised the expectations bar for many patients, particularly in a consumer world where brand experience has become so critical to success. Determining when and where to invest in a better experience, and where technology should or should not play a larger role is just one set of challenges facing healthcare providers. How they navigate these decisions will determine the winners of the future.