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Looking to the Inevitable

Paul Dain, President and Chief Experience and Innovation Officer

What comes to mind when you think of the term inevitable?

We don’t need to get into details here, but “the inevitable” can certainly have some negative (even foreboding) connotations. But let’s not fear the inevitable. In fact, there’s plenty to look forward to. The inevitable, when we’re talking about design, is the pinnacle.

Let’s look at AirPods.  Specifically, AirPod Pros. The charger and device is all part of one lovely, easy to pocket package. They’re pleasant to hold, they charge quickly, and the controls are intuitive. The magic moment, however, comes courtesy of the U1 chip which allows them to automatically pair with the closest device. It’s beyond cliché to say this about Apple products, but they just work. 

It’s not there yet, but Apple is on a clear path to an inevitable experience with these.

For a more nostalgic example, consider the venerable Chuck Taylor basketball shoe. Only minor modifications since they were first made in the 1920s. Of course, now there are many technically better shoes for basketball, but in terms of the fundamental design, there’s been no need for Converse (and now Nike) to change their best-selling shoe.

Quite simply, inevitable designs are delightful, durable, and human.

Inevitability in Technology 

Kevin Kelly, a Founding Editor of Wired magazine, wrote The Inevitable (2017). In it, he lays out 12 technological forces that will continue to change everything. Let’s discuss three of these that are key in delivering inevitable digital healthcare experiences:

Becoming: From fixed products to always-upgrading services and subscriptions.

Many consumers have already embraced digital health subscriptions without fully realizing it. We purchase new digital wearables that monitor basic vitals and track exercise every couple of years. Wellness apps like Headspace and Calm are based on a subscription model. And, digital prescription services are considered the norm.

Not only do we see this approach growing, we see it as a consumer expectation in healthcare – a constant evolution and enhancement of services that are simply included in a subscription. Just like automatically getting the latest version of Microsoft Office on your laptop, you’ll have wearable-provided diagnostics that are invisibly upgraded and accessible to your provider in real time.

Screening: All surfaces become screens.

There are more and more screens in our lives. This trend will continue. Kelly’s book doesn’t specifically include voice interfaces (Alexa, Google, Bixby), but I’ll extend his idea to include always-available digital interactions.

With over 50% of homes having at least one voice device, and every current smartphone sporting native voice capability, we have been trained to use voice when we want a fast answer and typing isn’t possible.

Healthcare access is an inevitable use case for voice. In the near term, location search for urgent or emergency care is the “low-hanging fruit,” but voice- and AI-based diagnosis and treatment for certain conditions is rapidly approaching.

Filtering: Harnessing intense personalization to anticipate our desires.

Amazon and Netflix have been able to predict our next purchases or what we’ll stream next for some time now. They have us all figured out and we (mostly) don’t find it creepy.

Sophisticated consumer-facing personalization has yet to become commonplace in healthcare. And, of the concepts we’ve discussed so far, it’s by far the most immediately achievable.

The technology platforms that enable personalization are mature and readily available. And the talent with experience creating these experiences in other industries is accessible and excited about the potential (ahem...the team right here at aha!).

The successful healthcare brands will be those who embrace inevitable consumer experience convergence.

What does this mean for health systems? It means seriously preparing for the inevitable convergence of digital experiences – from modernizing foundational technology platforms to accelerating the awareness to conversion to loyalty journey.

So much can be done to create mutually beneficial relationships between providers and patients. Patients expect and deserve simplicity when it comes to their healthcare, just like they do with every other digital service they pay for. In most cases, they haven’t gotten that. More complexity, even if good information can be found, will do nothing but create frustrated patients.

However, there’s good reason to be optimistic. aha! is a health experience agency purpose-built to kickstart your journey toward inevitable experience convergence. Our talent, experience, and partners are singularly focused on this goal and we are ready to talk with you and your teams about the potential. Contact us.

About aha!

aha! is a health-experience agency that develops and deepens the connection between patient and provider through empathetic and innovative digital services. Firmly grounded in the principles of human-centered design, their multidisciplinary team applies years of retail engagement experience to the growing digital healthcare industry. aha! enables providers to meet both the inevitable and unexpected with agility, precision, and human touch.