If you listen closely, you can hear the voice of the consumer getting louder. And as the 2020 election nears, the volume will likely grow to a roar that simply can’t be ignored.

Imagine patients and care facility residents shouting, “Too expensive!” or “Too inconvenient!” or worst of all, “I’m outta here!” Consumerism like that can put even the legacy organizations out of business in a hurry.

Healthcare expert Paul Keckley recently warned that investors and business leaders must rethink their assumptions about the public’s view on healthcare ASAP. They must realize that it’s officially become too risky to brush aside public opinion – even when the opinions seem overly simplistic.

“Polls suggest the public’s opinions about our healthcare system should be a cause for concern.”

Keckley cites the consensus among consumers that health organizations are driven by profit rather than purpose. Doctors are trustworthy in their eyes, but business execs and Congressional leaders, yeah … not so much. And while consumer sentiment regarding Medicare-for-all is split, the majority want to see the government do something to improve cost and quality.

It really is that simple. Americans might not know what policies are needed to fix things, but they’ll know what’s good when they see it. In time, the nearly exclusive B2B ecosystem of healthcare will grow numerous B2C channels – some out of innovation and some for the sake of survival.

Beware of the pushback

Keckley makes an excellent point about the threat of public outcry. Individuals who are fearful of medical bills leading to financial ruin will quickly galvanize their worry into an all-out movement. Occupy Healthcare could easily become the next national protest, as consumers push back against what they consider to be conflicts of interest, price-gouging, and excessive profit margins.

To most consumers, the costly healthcare system is the only part of their lives that offers them zero choices. They’re increasingly frustrated and looking for innovative alternatives. They want tech-enabled services and the ability to shop around for the best quality at the best price.

How hard can that be? Every other industry from retail to transportation to entertainment has made the leap, and healthcare will get there, too.

According to Keckley, a long list of tech giants are already making the connection between consumers and health, tapping into the demand for something better, more convenient, and ideally, less costly. The opportunity is clearly there for disrupters willing to respond to the market evolution.

And new entrants to the segment will no doubt focus on Millennials – a large generation steeped in technology and close to a boiling point with the current system. They’re always on and will move toward anything that promises to serve their needs 24/7. Smartphones are the center of their lives, and there’s no end to the way that apps make their lives easier. It seems like a great entry point.

The takeaway

What does it all mean? Consumer-centric solutions – and the capital to support them – ultimately will establish winners and losers in the emerging smart health market (elected officials included). However, each solution must pass the test of public opinion, and that will be put to the test in November 2020.