A little over a year ago, I went through a change in my healthcare insurance. For anyone who has experienced this, you know how frustrating it can be. Within a few weeks, I felt illness setting in and needed to see a doctor immediately. Figuring out who I could go to and what it would cost felt just as painful and debilitating as the illness itself. Over the course of a few hours and a bad day at work, I went from casually seeking a doctor through my health insurance to giving up on my insurance entirely and going to an urgent care.

Since I joined Cast & Hue, I have been able to look back on this experience and learn what patients experience and how the value they place on aspects of the service and care they receive can change dramatically over the course of a few hours. Remarkably, we’ve seen this pattern repeat itself in our research, using the Jobs-To-Be-Done framework.

Jobs-to-be-Done is an approach to qualitative customer research that simply asks the question, “What are your customers (patients) hiring you to do?” The importance of understanding the “Jobs” that healthcare is hired for is essential to success and sustainability in an ever-changing healthcare market. Going back to my situation, I’ll point out that when my symptoms first surfaced, my first thought was that I would call my new insurance company for guidance on who I could see and what it would cost. I felt little anxiety about getting the care I needed when I could finally stop working long enough to make that call. As the intensity of my symptoms escalated, and following a few fruitless calls through a voice prompt system that proved useless and frustrating, I started to consider how to get help without going through the maddening and ineffective calls to my new health insurance company.

Once I broadened the scope of my consideration for care, I realized that there were actually a few excellent solutions. I needed a practitioner to examine me, maybe take a test and prescribe the right medication. Given that scope of care, there were a lot of places I could visit, and considering that my healthcare plan was a high deductible plan with an HSA, I realized that it didn’t really matter where I went. In fact, as the workday was nearing an end, getting into a doctor office became less and less likely and I found that not only were my “retail” choices comparable in cost to choices within my plan, but they could actually serve me that day or evening.

Ultimately, it became clear that I was going to be better served by going outside of the network that I was already paying for and visit a “retail clinic” provider. In the end, I paid about the same as I would have if I had stayed in my network and received treatment in a convenient timeframe without even having to wait in line. I couldn’t have been more satisfied with the solution. Looking back on this experience, it’s easy to see how a retail clinic could do the job I needed to be done better than my health insurance provider could. Instead of calling and figuring out who I could visit and all the pain points involved in that experience, I could just walk in to a retail clinic and receive care.

Instead of figuring out what I might end up paying and how it might be covered through my insurance, I got a straightforward cost at the clinic. In the context of my particular situation – my Job-to-be-Done – I needed quick access to a simple evaluation and the right medication. That retail clinic was better able to fulfill that Job than my health care insurance network—fulfilling my job to be done, at a price I was willing to pay. This experience reveals that it is critical for Healthcare organizations to understand the patient’s Job-to-be-Done.

Over the next decade, patients will have more and more choices for fulfilling their healthcare needs. Therefore, it will become increasingly important for providers and networks to speak to patients about their unique needs, motivations and circumstances (“jobs”) and show them how they can successfully accomplish those jobs. At Sitewire Health, we use the Jobs-to-be-Done framework to discover what needs and contextual circumstances drive patients to purchase. With more choices for care that cater to individualized and specific needs, it is critical to the sustainability of future revenue that healthcare organizations understand what jobs they are being hired to do and why.

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