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Harry talks this week with Salesforce's vice president of strategic research, Peter Coffee. The computer-industry veteran and former tech columist says that in the era of 1) outcomes-based payments for medical care, 2) an aging patient base, and 3) ubiquitous sensors and continuous data collection, there's a huge opportunity—and financial incentive—for healthcare providers to employ technology platforms that improve the client experience.

Might Salesforce end up marketing such a platform? Coffee says it's logical for the company, best known for its cloud-based customer relationship management software, to think about offering hospitals or medical service providers a configurable, CRM-style system for managing patient intake, consultations, recurring exam schedules, transportation to clinics, and the like.

Coffee says Traditional healthcare organizations didn't have the insights or incentives to think about improving long-term wellness or keeping their customers (patients) happy—just the opposite, in fact. "If you didn't diet and you didn't exercise, you ended up consuming more procedures, for which they would get paid," he says. "So what you have to do is shift the point of rotation to where the patients' health and the providers' incentives are aligned with each other."

That means pivoting to a data-driven model for managing service to patients—but not necessarily using centralized or concentrated systems. Coffee points out that Salesforce's architecture allows participation by thousands of third-party developers, potentially helping patientst themselves take ownership and control of their data.

If insurers also bought into this larger shift, they could transform themselves from "a necessary evil of payment management" into "the primary custodian of your wellness" and a force for efficiency and savings, Coffee also tells Harry. "The people who are the payers today know a lot about where the unnecessary friction and areas of process cost are arising in the system," he notes.

"You put all of these things together," Coffee says, "and you have the necessity, the opportunity, and the capacity to deliver the kind of transformational change that I think we all agree healthcare is ready to enjoy for the first time in centuries."

Find Salesforce's 2017 Connected Patient Report here.

Check out the full show notes and other MoneyBall Medicine episodes at our website.

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