What healthcare can learn from America’s favorite video streaming giant

In 2009, I co-founded a company called Kobo, a global leader in e-books. When I look back on that time, what motivated incumbents to innovate wasn’t new technology or the desire to drive growth. It was fear.

Fear that a new entrant was coming (in this case, one of the world’s largest e-commerce players … the company we all relied on for two-day shipping during the pandemic). And that fear was well-placed. Take a look at the market cap of major book retailers and publishers over the last 10 years—it’s not a pretty picture.

If you are a healthcare provider, pharmacy retailer or payor, make no mistake, disruption on this scale is coming. In fact, it appears that that same e-commerce player who came after e-books now has its eyes set on healthcare. Leading analysts predict that this new entrant will take at least $100 billion dollars from the top healthcare firms. This is not theoretical. So what are you going to do? How do you compete with an organization that has almost every advantage?

Well, there’s another company out there right now that everyone knows, loves—and can learn from. It’s the video streaming service we also relied on during the pandemic. Its evolution is instructive to all incumbents in healthcare—the payors, providers and pharmacies looking to stay competitive in a market bracing for disruption.

Break the Mold

A central theme of this streaming giant’s success is engagement. Consumers used to engage monthly when they received DVDs in the mail. That model shifted as they transitioned to a digital platform, driving daily and even hourly engagement. Does this sound familiar? Engagement with most health providers or payors occurs once or twice a year during an episode of care or when filing a claim (you’re looking at around 4% monthly active users, if you’re lucky). If you are to remain relevant with your patients and members, you need to think about how you can change that. You’re never going to succeed being a utility that people only use once a year.

So how did the video streaming giant create industry-leading engagement? First, they expanded their mindset, and with that, their addressable market. They broadened their market from DVD renters across the U.S. to anyone that wanted digital entertainment around the world. Think about how much larger their audience became.

In healthcare, incumbents need to consider changing their focus from “healthcare” to “health.” Your market isn’t limited to patients during episodes of care. Your market is much bigger, and you should be engaging with it 365 days a year. When you expand your mindset and think of people less as patients and more like consumers, you will be able to address an audience that isn’t just the 3 million in your catchment area, but the 30 million potential customers who are now aware of your brand. You should know these people and be engaging with them long before they ever need you for care.

Make Digital a Priority

The second thing the video streaming giant did was go digital-first. They used to mail you DVDs using the U.S. Postal Service. Now, you can watch their service almost anywhere in the world at any time you want on nearly any device. Digital relevance is based on mobile integration. Seventy-one percent of digital traffic is done through phones, and 90% of that traffic comes through apps. Think of the apps on your phone’s homepage—most likely, they aren’t just portals or systems of record. They are digital-first platforms for engagement.

What’s more, if apps can snag homepage screen space, it will net them three times more engagement than if they were buried. The question is, why do you deserve to be competing for this valuable real estate with these engagement powerhouses? Interacting with a claim or a health record once or twice a year isn’t going to cut it.

Get Much More Personal

This brings us to the third aspect of the video streaming giant’s strategy. The content is superb, and it keeps getting better. Last year they spent $17 billion producing original content, which they charge users $13.99 per month to access. That’s an incredible value.

They have shows for every demographic, every niche and almost every country on earth. A digital engagement strategy, whether it be entertainment or health-related, is only as good as its underlying content and services. So think about the content you distribute and how it’s supporting your consumers’ health journey.

At its core, the jet fuel for engagement is personalization. Imagine if you could harness all of the data that exists in your electronic medical record (EMR) system. What if you could add to this data and combine the depth of medical records with actionable data from health apps, wearables, pharmacies and insurance claims? What if you could use this data to power personalized health programs for all your consumers, no matter where they were on their healthcare journey? What if your patients actively participated in these health journeys? What if they engaged with their health journey in the same way they engage with their recommended watchlist?

Trust the Experts

So, there’s the model—and the stakes are high. Not only are you competing with the top consumer technology companies in the world for the homepage of your customers’ phones, but you’re also dealing with new health innovators that have the same goal. What works in your favor? Payors, providers and pharmacies all have significantly more trust in the consumer’s mind when it comes to healthcare, healthcare experiences and healthcare data than tech companies. In fact, a recent study found that consumers were two to three times more willing to share their health information with their provider, insurer or pharmacy over a tech or health tech company.

I’ve talked about the strategy involved, but how do you actually execute and deliver on this plan? How do you build the infrastructure that will allow you to deliver a digital healthcare experience that fully engages your consumer audience? You have some available options:

  • Build your own
  • Hire your favorite consulting firm
  • Assemble a sea of point solutions
  • Kick the can down the road

Spoiler alert: All of these options come with serious issues that are either going to cost a ton of money or time.

However, there is hope and a viable alternative. Like other categories, healthcare needs a digital infrastructure to help you accelerate your transformation plans. A platform to build on, that allows you to leverage your trusted brand and valuable assets. League is that platform. And like Shopify is to retail (enabling millions of merchants to transform their experience and thrive online), League is to healthcare.

Millions of people have access to applications powered by League to easily access, navigate and pay for care. League can help you transform your experience in a matter of months, help you reach industry-leading monthly engagement rates of 70% and Net Promoter Scores® over 80. The best part? A healthcare experience that looks less like your grandparents’ cable television and more like your 8K streaming experience.


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