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HCIT Insights from Starbucks?

July 2, 2010
by Joe Bormel
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HCIT Insights from Starbucks?

Yesterday, I stopped at one of half a dozen neighborhood Starbucks within five miles of my home. Note that Starbucks has solved for convenience, or in healthcare parlance, access. There were two new programs the company rolled out that day. One, free WiFi (previously it was available for a fee); and two, calorie information next to price information … everywhere. On the menu, in the display case and, as in the past, on a printed flyer.

Hmmm. Raspberry Scone for 500 calories, or Vanilla mini-Scone for 140? (see comment graphic below for the data.) Both were a couple of bucks. Incidentally, I was planning on no scones when I entered the store, so this information actually raised my ticket price from the iced coffee I had planned.

Fast forward to healthcare, HCIT, and healthcare reform, with community-rating, individual mandates and heighten cost awareness and consumer decision making futures. Doctors and patients may not need calorie data, but they will need to know more than treatment costs. They'll need to know referral timing expectations for their specific treatment group, stratified by problem, allergy, and medication data assured by HITECH. We will be in a better position to label the scones of diagnosis and treatment. Who will provide that information to consumers? The Geissingers/Mayos/Hopkins? The independent community physicians? The health plan via a PHR service? Will we be buying more Raspberry Scones with our fat MSAs? These are some of the biggest strategic issues for providers and payers in our brave, new, post-HITECH world.

I went to that Starbucks after having my semi-annual teeth cleaning at my dentist. Upon check out, they told me that my payer would cover a quarter of my visit cost. That more than covered the coffee and the scone!
 

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