Can we make healthcare more convenient? Lessons from personal finance.

Personal finance has become completely digitized. It’s almost painful to write, but I remember having to drive to the bank, wait in line and talk to a teller face-to-face (at least there were usually lollipops) – every single time I made a deposit. Today, personal finance is less centralized and more available than ever, creating a seamless experience for the consumer. Can healthcare learn from it? I think yes. Here’s how banking gets it right:

Access to cash when and where you want it. ATMs are literally EVERYWHERE, allowing for easier transactions closer to wherever we are, whenever we need them. Convenient care is similar – now with more urgent care centers and services like blood pressure screenings and flu shots available at pharmacies, consumers don’t have to travel far and can get the right care at the right time in the right place.

Making deposits and transfers with just a few taps. After ATMs eliminated the need to physically be at a bank for deposits, banking apps then took the ATM out of the equation for check deposits. This is a lot like telehealth, where virtual visits and wearables/devices that transmit vitals mean patients don’t need to come in. Consumers can transfer money from one account to another with the click of a button, and one day it will hopefully be just as easy for us to share medical records across providers (this one could take awhile – just the other day I sent a fax to request a medical record…)

Customer service that’s actually designed for the customer. Consumers can email their bank and get a prompt response. Now with patient portals, patients can correspond with providers and get lab results online. Most major banks also have a customer service chat option, where customers can immediately talk via instant message. I’m imagining an “on call” clinician for healthcare chats. Another thing healthcare could use more is email. I love being able to choose to have ATM receipts emailed to me instead of printed. Appointment reminders for doctor visits always get snail mailed, but it would be so much easier for patients if they could opt to receive them via a secure email. All pertinent information would be right on patients’ smartphones, allowing them to add the appointment to their calendar with one tap and pull up Google Maps for directions. Instead of filling out paper forms, appointment reminders could link to any surveys to complete before a visit.

Access to your accounts with actionable insights. Platforms like provide a “big picture” look at finances, with recommendations and tools to help with spending and savings goals. Could each patient have digital access to a personal health record with history, a breakdown of all medical visits and lab tests, recommendations about lifestyle changes or medical treatments to achieve health goals? This would be different than a patient’s EHR – I’m thinking something more consumer friendly and visually appealing. Speaking of which, so many financial apps and tools use colorful infographics, charts and graphs. These are so much more helpful than written information and numbers. Patient health portals and other modes of patient communication could use graphics and other tools to convey important information.
Helping teams stay on track. Apps like allow friends, business partners and roommates to track bills and shared expenses, so everyone knows who owes what. Could a similar approach be used for team care coordination to keep everyone on the same page and notify team members of action items? Kind of like for healthcare providers.

Sure, some of these ideas are far fetched. But at the rate health care is changing, they could be reality before you know it. So what do you think is next? Did I forget something?

One last thing: I totally understand the argument that healthcare is more personal and a clinician needs to have a relationship with the patient in order to provide the best care. I agree. But it’s 2016 – and there are times when you shouldn’t have to drive to the doctor’s office, wait in the waiting room and talk to someone face-to-face to get healthcare.

What are you innovating today?

Lesley Solomon

iHub Executive Director

Blog PostBWH iHub