How healthcare institutions talk to you.

I’ve been thinking a ton about the fact that patients aren’t the real customers in healthcare. Very little has been designed for you– the user of healthcare. When you visit a hospital’s website, do you get the same feeling as using Kayak to purchase a plane ticket or tumblr to create your first blog and start publishing within 30 seconds? Do you feel more knowledgeable or more empowered? Nope.

Healthcare talks to you in two ways. They choose from a few different stock photos of smiling old people, male doctors, and photos of their institutions. And then they have two different messages:

“We care about you.”


“We’re the best.”

Visit Hopkins, Mayo, Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, Cleveland Clinic, Mass General, and the Ohio State University Medical Center.

They’ll also throw in the obligatory syndicated health information in “diseases A to Z” because they think you’ll go to your nearest hospital’s website to search for health information rather than your Google search bar.

And these are the top institutions in the country all saying and doing the same thing. Do a random search for some rural hospital somewhere in America and you’ll find the same messaging. It may be tweaked with something like “We’re the best (for Western Maryland)” but of course don’t forget “We Care about you.”

Do they think that people respond to this messaging and these uber helpful tools providing generic syndicated health information? Or is this just a symptom of ridiculously unimaginative groupthink?

The main problem lies in the fact that all of healthcare tries to do all things for all people…and their messaging reflects that generic nothingness.

Healthcare needs to be made cool, engaging, unique, transparent, and personalized. We need to drag it out of pre-Mad Men era messaging, Marketing 101, and 7th grade health class and make the experience one that’s as awesome as buying a computer from the Apple Store or a hip replacement from Bumrungrad.

I can guarantee that in the next 5 years there will be an entire healthcare ecosystem that springs up from the periphery that truly speaks to you and lives up to the same expectations you have from Apple or Kayak. It won’t come from the establishment. It will come from a network of people who simply want something better for themselves and for you.