How the Sharing Economy is Unleashing Health Care's Newest Workforce: Patient leaders

David Goldsmith davidg@wegohealth.com

Abstract

Whether it's a start-up digital health company rolling out a new device, or a leading hospital seeking to increase engagement through its patient portal, organizations across the health care ecosystem recognize the need to design solutions that are patient-centered and consumer-driven. For many organizations patient-centered design remains an elusive goal. It requires that patients and caregivers be embedded in every phase of the product lifecycle - from design and development to deployment and support.

Finding qualified individuals with the expertise and time to support these efforts is an extraordinary challenge. As such, even earnest attempts at patient-centered design are met with roadblocks. Health care leaders cite a host of institutional and logistical barriers hindering patient collaboration. Chief among them is knowing where to find patient leaders who can provide the insights and skills organizations need to be successful with these initiatives.

Unlike other industries, such as finance, technology and law, health care has not had ready access to a marketplace of vetted talent to draw upon. Even when patients can be identified, health care executives want more visibility into their background so they can better evaluate their qualifications. Then there's the inevitable question as to how patients should be compensated, if at all. While the demand for patient expertise is growing, what do we know about the supply side of the equation? How many qualified patients are available to the industry? What do we know about their health status, their skills and the unique journey that has enabled them to become patient leaders? And last but not least, what do we know about their professional and educational background that enables them to add value to organizations that goes beyond their patient perspective?

There has never been an easy way for organizations to find and hire vetted patient leaders with the requisite skills and experience to serve as consultants. It is a key reason why consumers have remained one of the most under-utilized assets in health care. The sharing economy may be the industry's best hope for change. Just as financial services firms can now hire freelance business experts on-demand, so too can health care hire freelance patient experts.

This session will examine how one such platform, WEGO Health Experts, is making patient leaders visible to the industry so they can be hired as consultants and unleashed to solve some of the industry's biggest challenges. Using a case study format, we'll look at three specific examples of how organizations have leveraged patients for crowdsourced research, product development, and influencer marketing to drive awareness, adoption and engagement. We'll also look at how patients are tapping the sharing economy to work flexible hours while earning extra income at a time when more are reeling from the cost of providing for their health care needs.  

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