Healthcare Consumerism: Why Is Google Smarter Than We Think?

I went to Google’s homepage and something finally occurred to me, something I’ve been looking at and using for over a decade.

Type in ‘Google’ and you will see what had me so vexed.  I often wondered, why would a company which controls most of the World Wide Web’s users have given so little thought to its home page?

There is only one thing to do—enter something in Google’s search bar.  And that one thing lets you do everything Google does and everything that every other company or individual does or has done. I bet it took Google months of design to decide that the simplest solution was the best solution.  Googe probably started the design of its landing page with dozens of links simply because they wanted to show how much they had to offer.

Then the many became one.

It controls the world by giving control of everything anyone may want to do to you.  And, here’s the nifty bit.  Everything for everyone, every time, at any time, and on any device.

That is exactly like my mantra for healthcare: a remarkable experience for everyone, every time, at any time, and on any device.

Now let’s compare how Google presents user experience to its users to how another internet leviathan presents user experience—Amazon.

Amazon’s page has too many things to do.  Google’s page only lets you do one thing.  And what do 99% of Amazon’s users do?  They bypass all the extraneous stuff and type what they want into Amazon’s search bar.  They opt for the experience they learned by using Google because they know that doing so gives them what they want, every time they want it, at any time they want it, and on any device, they want to use.

Amazon’s homepage is a kluge.  There are a million links to click on Amazon’s landing page.  In fact, Amazon’s landing page looks like most health systems’ landing pages—a million choices.  But here’s the difference between the landing page of a health system and Amazon’s landing page.  A health system’s landing page has a hundred or more clickable links, but only think that happens when you click one of those links is that you are transferred to another page with dozens of clickable links.  And so forth and so on until you hit a dead end.  You never get to a page that lets you do what you wanted to do.

Health system web pages are all hat and no cowboy.   Instead of employing a=the design concept of the many became one, health system’s website adopted the axiom that the many became many more.

Google’s entire business model, its entire company, its entire suite of offerings are available in a simple search bar. Google is all clicks and no bricks.

Health systems are the opposite. Not a single aspect or function of a health system is available online.  A health system’s human-centered digital design strategy is all clicks and more clicks.  There is nothing there, there.

Health system websites do provide a user experience.  They just don’t provide a good one.  The user experience is not helpful to users, consumers, or patients.

Two types of users go to a health system’s website.  Patients, and people who at some point may become patients.  Health systems should try to create two experiences–on for patients and one for people who at some point may become patients.  Designed correctly, those two links will include everything its users want and nothing they don’t.

Instead of asking, ‘what else can we add to our website,’ health systems should be asking, ‘what can we get rid of?’

And that is why people may go to several times a day and why they may go to your health system’s website only once a decade.

The other brilliant feature of Google is that the user functionality of Google is exactly the same whether it is displayed on a three-inch mobile screen or a fifty-inch plasma screen.

Do you wonder why that is the case?  Once again the answer is very simple.  On average, people are within three feet of their mobile device twenty-three out of every twenty-four hours.  All of Google is never more than an arm’s length away from its users.

Your health system, even the best health system is a phone call away, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m.

And that is why patient and customer experience and access and engagement are so poor and out of date.

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