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What Would LinkedIn Do with Sickcare?


Suppose sick-care had a freemium business model like LinkedIn? Basic services would be free, but patients would pay for premium services.

What Would Google Do? was published in 2009. Since then, health care IT has exploded and many of the predictions in the book have come true. In fact, some pundits see doctors more as data managers than care givers and the trend is growing, with increasing demands for interventions based on data management and predictive analytics.

Suppose sick-care had a freemium business model like LinkedIn? Basic services would be free, but patients would pay for premium services. The assumption is that the patient's data has become more valuable to payers than actually paying to care for them. In a sense, sick-care becomes a loss leader enticing free users to upgrade to premium products.

While many companies have used the freemium model with great success, there are potential pitfalls as noted in a recent HBR article. Before you offer patients a freemium model, the authors suggest you ask the following questions:

1. What should be free?

2. Do patients fully understand the premium offer?

3. What is your target conversion rate?

4. Are you prepared for the conversion life cycle?

5. Are users becoming evangelists?

6. Are you committed to ongoing innovation and product development that adds value?

As sick-care migrates more to the edges, leaving a middle care gap, the freemium model might apply to the lower end of the market particularly when it comes to transforming sick care to preventive health services and products. Several companies have tried freemium and failed.

I guess patients and customers just don't value what they don't pay for. But, what else is new?

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Victor J. Dzau, MD, gives expert advice
Victor J. Dzau, MD, gives expert advice