Guest Column | October 1, 2018

Never Argue With The Data: How A Cartoon Predicted Amazon's Future In Healthcare

By Antonella Bonanni

Big Data

Beginning in 2002 and ending a scant four years later, the animated series “The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius” followed the exploits of Jimmy and his none-too-bright buddy Sheen. And while the animators and writers may not have realized it at the time, they had the prescience to predict Amazon’s ascent to healthcare prominence, or dominance, depending on how you look at it.

Even Sheen, Jimmy’s less-than-genius friend, gets it. “Never argue with the data,” he explains, while contemplating a data-jammed sheet of paper. And that’s the prediction right there: Data. And data is precisely why Amazon has the ability to conquer healthcare as we know it: the company doesn’t argue with the data.

And it has tons of it. On you. And me. Your friends and neighbors. And 310 million other users who regularly use the shopping website.

And while having the data is important, what’s done with it and how it’s used is even more important. Technology for technology’s sake is just, well, shiny plastic and metal. An empty dream. I wrote a few weeks ago about technology and how it’s great as long as we don’t lose focus of what’s really important, which is how it’s used to build relationships with people.

And that, really, is the importance of data: knowing how and when to use it. Getting down to the individual level.

Know Your Customer

SCM World published an article following Amazon’s announcement that it might bust its way into pharmaceutical distribution. While the article focuses on Amazon’s supply chain prowess, it also recognizes the company’s excellent grasp on what consumers want. “There are several reasons why Amazon could upend the current healthcare marketplace. Chief among them is that healthcare is more and more focused on providing at-homecare, and no one serves the home better than Amazon,” according to SCM World.

Amazon understands data and uses every hour of the day to improve the customer buying experience. And they also get that within that data lies the power to make changes in the healthcare system. Amazon and several other major tech players issued a statement proposing how the consortium will support the future of consumer healthcare data: “We are jointly committed to removing barriers for the adoption of technologies for healthcare interoperability, particularly those that are enabled through the cloud and AI. We share the common quest to unlock the potential in healthcare data, to deliver better outcomes at lower costs.”

Never Argue With Big Data

Otherwise known as Big Data, the information stored by Amazon, healthcare plans, providers, hospitals and others can be used to improve healthcare. To do that, those holding the information must be able to understand the data.

“(S)everal new technological improvements are allowing healthcare Big Data to be converted to useful, actionable information. By leveraging appropriate software tools, Big Data is informing the movement toward value-based healthcare and is opening the door to remarkable advancements, even while reducing costs. With the wealth of information that healthcare data analytics provides, caregivers and administrators can now make better medical and financial decisions while still delivering an ever-increasing quality of patient care,” according to NEJM Catalyst.

Today, it’s a race to extract and use healthcare data in a way that promotes better health and ensures reductions in medical expenses, while maintaining privacy and confidentiality. Whoever gets there first certainly will have the advantage in the future in terms of getting healthcare consumers to participate in new programs or bipartisan initiatives.

Amazon seems well-positioned to lead or partner thanks to its incredible amounts of data, innate understanding of the customer experience and commitment to advancing technology and expanding its use into the home and other locations.

Hopefully, Amazon and organizations will follow Sheen’s advice and then act on the data. When they do it can have the impact of positively transforming the future experiences of healthcare consumers.

About The Author

Antonella Bonanni is AVP and Chief Marketing Officer of Healthcare at Cognizant, a Fortune 200 company. Antonella has an MBA from the University of Pittsburgh and a Masters of Communications from the CUOA in Vicenza, Italy. Connect with Antonella on LinkedIn and Twitter.