Last week I saw an article announcing eHarmony’s intent to launch a new career-matching service that will “pair hiring managers with candidates based on desired culture, personality and skill-set traits.”
Granted, this could go somewhat legally awry if hiring managers are entering criteria suggesting they are looking for a hot personal assistant or a cabana boy with 6-pack abs, but the idea is intriguing. And not to be immodest, but I thought of this a long time ago. I think the eHarmony concept (or something like it) has huge applicability throughout other areas of business in general and healthcare in particular. I think it is particularly important to get at the intangibles when forming new relationships of any kind and eHarmony bills itself as particularly adept in doing that because of the algorithms built from the questions they ask, such as “what makes you nervous” and “your idea of adventure” and “what quirks most bother you in a person.” That last one is a big deal, in my view, because you might hire, meet, date someone who seems great on paper, but when you find out they are a chronic nose-picker or believe that black helicopters are spying on us, or can only eat white foods, it might cool the initial passion.
I’ve hired hundreds of people over the years and those intangible areas are always the ones that can trip you up, as it is with all new relationships. Thus, I like the idea of using an algorithm-based personality matching system for lots of scenarios. Here are a couple of examples I have long thought someone should try (and I expect to be cut in on any successful businesses that arise from my giving away free entrepreneurial ideas…hear that Neil Clark Warren?”):
1) Patient/Provider Matching—we already have ways for patients to look up providers, but providers have no real way to target specific patients other than old- fashioned marketing and advertising or distribution/network deals with payers. At the moment, providers have no way to get specific patients and patients have no way of searching on certain provider criteria that get to the heart of what they really want. For instance, patients would really like to see waiting room times, the type of magazines available in the lobby, temperature of probing instruments (e.g., do they warm the stethoscope?), age of provider (because we are all shallow and have our own views of whether we value experience or the newest training techniques), etc.
Providers, on the other hand, could specify whether they want to see younger or older patients, could list the kinds of illnesses they don’t want to treat even though they are qualified (no toenail fungus please!), could specify whether they like chatty patients or quiet ones, and, potentially, screen for patients who are apt to call repeatedly and ask dumb questions of the staff. Providers and patients could fill out all their attributes, including all those eHarmony-esqe questions about likes and dislikes and what kind of tree you most consider yourself to be like, and if you like piña coladas and getting lost in the rain, and how often you call your doctor in the average month.
From there, patients and providers could be better matched in those categories that go beyond clinical appropriateness. Let’s face it, most patients judge providers’ “quality” based on these sorts of things, not on clinical outcome, so wouldn’t it be nice to improve transparency with data other than just price? And, being human, providers certainly have a mental list of the types of patients they just can’t stand.
2) Senior Friend Matching—there are tons of sites for seniors to find caregivers, but the most problematic issue facing many seniors is loneliness. Those who want to stay in their homes often lack for ways of meeting up with others like them. eHarmony or someone like that should set up a senior anti-loneliness matching app, not for caregivers or to find your next true love, but to find like-minded, like-situated people who are also looking for friends. People could list their ability to drive, their hobbies (walking? Bridge? movies? Cow-tipping?), their likes and dislikes in people generally (who makes you happy? Who makes you sad? Who do you hope dies before you?), and find others who are also looking not for love, but for companionship. I think this is a legitimate product if one could overcome the issues around Internet challenges and make it really, really easy—maybe even paper-based at first for the applicants.
3) Company/Key Opinion Leader Matching—Companies are always looking to find doctors who will be their champions, clinical trial leaders, podium supporters and advisors of all types. Companies have to go to conferences, search databases and clinical journals and go through all sorts of machinations to get set up with the doctors who are most advantageous to know and to have affiliated with their businesses. On the other hand, doctors are an interesting bunch (see questions on what quirks most both you above) and it is important that those you decide to engage with your business are on the same page and not going to go off the rails during your product launch.
At the same time, many physicians are very interested in getting more involved with innovation and new product development and really don’t know how to find their way to the right people at the right companies at the right time. I hear this all the time from clinicians who wish they could participate in the development of the next great xyz, but don’t really know who the credible startup companies are. I constantly hear from startup companies looking to find their way to clinicians who will convey value and legitimacy to their businesses.
With a service like this, companies could populate the kinds of clinicians they are looking for and for what purpose (advisory board, public speaker, clinical trial participant, reputation enhancement, member at a particularly fine golf club, whatever) and clinicians could populate the software with the kinds of clinical areas in which they have an interest in making a difference and a nice payback. Most importantly, the parties can seek to make that personality match that really matters when you are dealing with small companies, small teams and high risk/high reward businesses. Not all physicians are really suited to that environment and certainly not all startup CEOs are great partners, as there are certainly those who want only to have the famous guy’s name on the website and not the real input of their clinical partners. But if one shallow party finds another, bingo! And even better, entrepreneurs from both sides of the bench can find each other and contribute to mutual advantage. Sunshine Act be damned, the program could even generate some automatic disclosure forms.
People talk about the “uber-ification” of healthcare, but I’m going for the “eHarmonizing” of healthcare. What do you think? Other ideas out there welcome in the comments section. Maybe someone needs to start an accelerator for eHarmony-like healthcare ideas? That last one is just a joke…whomever among you is thinking it is a good idea, please go back to bed until that feeling passes.