When internet pioneer, researcher and investment analyst Mary Meeker delivers her annual State of the Web presentation, people in multiple industries listen.
And this year, Meeker, a partner at investment firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, had a few choice words to say about digital healthcare and what consumers are doing with technology in the wake of rapidly rising healthcare costs.
Healthcare spending is increasingly shifting to consumers. U.S. healthcare insurance costs are rising and consumers are paying a higher portion of their insurance costs at 18% of annual income versus 14% in 1999, Meeker says. Deductible costs are rising a lot as well—the number of employees that have a $2,000 deductible or greater is 22% versus 7 % in 2009, says Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.
“When customers start spending more, they tend to pay more attention to value and prices, especially with things like the internet,” Meeker said in her presentation last week at the Recode conference in Silicon Valley near San Francisco.
Consumers want greater transparency in researching and pricing healthcare treatment, and they want more online tools to do it with, she says. “We ask the question, ‘With consumerization of healthcare and rising data availability, may we finally be at the cusp of reducing consumer healthcare spending?’ I certainly hope so.”
The internet in general continues to change how consumers live their daily lives and how web technology continues to “disrupt” industries such as healthcare, Meeker says. “Technology disruption is not new and technology disruption is adopting the internet. It was adopted faster than the PC, faster than the TV, faster than the telephone,” she says. “What are the drivers of this? Rising and cheaper compute power and storage capacity, and rising and cheaper connectivity and data sharing.”
New companies such as online healthcare insurer Oscar Health and others are among the throngs of newer companies using digital technology trying to build a more consumer-focused approach to healthcare, she says.
“Will market forces finally come to healthcare and drive prices lower for consumers?” Meeker says. “The trends, numbers, are still small, but they’re trending in the right direction.”
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