I had a very cool experience this past weekend, I ordered a pizza online. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but Domino’s Pizza has a very slick interface that was both functional and entertaining. To begin, the ordering process involved a “build your own pizza” option complete with a picture of my pizza that changed as I added the first topping, split the pizza into halves, continued adding toppings until the pizza in the picture matched the one in my mind. Creating the pizza had an almost video game quality that was both functional and fun.
Once the order was placed, I immediately saw a status window showing where my pizza was in the process. “Anna started building your pizza at 6:04 PM.” Add to that a nice graphical illustration of the steps remaining and a flashing status bar, and I could actually visualize where my pizza was in the process. “Anna put your pizza into the oven at 6:09 PM.” I found myself quite satisfied by the sense of access I had to the pizza creation process and the assurance that my order was placed.
Finally, the most important step, the pizza arrived and when I opened the box, it matched the picture! A novel step I realize, but the best interface in the world does nothing if the product produced is suspect. Again, Domino’s got it right. They used a simple 5 star rating system on four key steps in the process and wanted to know how I felt about the entire pizza ordering process. The interface was slick and right there with the status bar where I could easily respond to the questions.
When I finished my pizza, I realized why I liked the experience so much; this is how IT should work. Technology gave me unparalleled access into the pizza ordering process, allowed me to get exactly what I wanted and monitored my satisfaction with the product and service along the way. If it can be done with something like pizza, why not something more important like healthcare? Why can’t healthcare be like ordering a pizza? That got me thinking, what would the pizza process look like in a healthcare system?
Placing my order = Scheduling an appointment
Let’s start with a search of the available physicians and services offered and select exactly what I need for my appointment. Maybe I could get recommendations as to the quality of the physicians or procedures from other patients and have direct access to research to help me decide the best solution for me. Maybe I could have access to someone within the system who could help me with my request; to make sure I make the correct selection for my issue. Of course, I would need integration from my insurance company to make sure the services I’m requesting would be covered. Once I make my selections, it would be nice to see a calendar of times for my appointment allowing me to schedule my visit around the kids baseball games, getting the carpet cleaned, and after the meeting on Tuesday.
Building a pizza = Appointment prep
A good pizza is built with many toppings. For my appointment, the toppings can be the free flow of medical information from my other health providers, my insurance company, the current provider, and me. Things like family history, medications, allergies, and my own medical history need to come together to make sure I have the best possible outcome for any medical procedure. The extra cheese in this analogy would be making sure that I, as the patient, am as prepared as possible on the day of my appointment including knowing what to expect from the procedure and how long I will be at the office. When all the toppings combine, it could be a very tasty dish.
Delivery of pizza = Delivery of service
On the day of the appointment, I should know what to expect then actually have my expectations met. Why should I have to wait for an exam room to come available? After all, you know I am coming, why I’m coming, and exactly what I want to have happen. I should expect to have things scheduled to maximize my time as well as the physician’s and his or her staff. Of course I would have to do my part as well, making sure I followed the appointment instructions, edited/completed any necessary patient information, and arrived on time to the office.
In the end, my positive experience at my Dr. Domino’s would lead me to be an advocate for the office and rate them highly for others in my virtual communities. You would see me tweeting about the experience and sharing feedback with other potential patients. After all, one happy customer can have a big impact in today’s connected world.
Is this a realistic scenario in today’s complex healthcare model? Patients are not exactly like pizza toppings; we don’t always come in the same flavors, shapes and sizes, but health IT should be better than it is today. The lesson of the Domino’s experience is learning from what is possible and adapting it to the healthcare industry. Can it be the same? Probably not, but it can certainly be much better than it is today.