Once Jim Clark, one of the founders of Silicon Graphics and then CEO of Netscape decided he needed to do something new, he looked for the economic sector most in need of help. Of course, he chose healthcare. That decision spawned Healtheon, now Healtheon/WebMD.
Now Steve Case, the founder and longtime CEO of AOL looked for the economic sector most in need of help. Of course, he chose wellness and healthcare (check here to listen to Case on NPR). From Business Week:
Case believes in the next two decades they will move from the province of the elite to the mainstream, as aging baby boomers seek their comforts; health care because when his older brother, Daniel Case III, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal brain cancer, he saw for himself just how difficult it is for even the privileged to make well-informed decisions about their care. Case will spend about half of that $500 million on companies that help patients take a more active role in their treatment. He is interested in those that provide online data about the price and quality of doctors and those that make available electronic medical records; he's considering everything from high-end personalized health coaching services to clinics housed in Target stores. As he says: "Health care is monumentally complex, confusing, inefficient, and inconvenient. Meanwhile it's the biggest industry in the country, and everybody hates it."
Let's repeat the last two lines:
Health care is monumentally complex, confusing, inefficient, and inconvenient. Meanwhile it's the biggest industry in the country, and everybody hates it.
AOL? AOL/Time Warner? Ripe for jokes and barbs I'm sure. But these guys aren't dummies. They see what we all see. It's just that they've got the bucks and the will to try something.
Hey, I'll admit after trying AOL in the early years it was too slow for me. And many of my gearhead friends are openly disdainful. But it's pretty easy to see why it was successful (beyond the ubiquitous CD mailers). It's user-friendly for people who have no interest in the system complexity behind it.
We could probably use a bit of that in our realm, huh?