It’s funny how seemingly disparate events or factoids can suddenly meld and form a connection showing how a simple need resulted in seismic changes.

I loved watching the BBC documentary series Connections – first launched in 1978 and revived in 1994 and 1997—which was based on that unique premise. After all, any series that can link the need to keep beer cold to the rockets that took man to the moon has to be worth some quality time.

The things that prompted me to recall the concept of that BBC series were just as disparate as beer and travelling to the moon, but made perfect sense when I put them together. The events also made it clear to me we may be on the cusp of a dramatic shift in health care, and it’s been brewing for a while now in the foundational changes that have hit many other industries.

The issue is the customer experience. The connection started with a five-minute conversation.

In early December, I took part in a testimonial session at Ashwaubenon Public Schools, who utilize the NOVO Health platform as part of the health care benefits offered to employees. The conversations I had with employees were brief, but there was a consistent theme to all of them—a great customer experience. Whether it was scheduling, how they were greeted upon arrival or how the doctor spent time explaining the procedure and recovery, all reported a customer experience that exceeded their expectations.

It was later that evening while doing a little Facebook surfing when a meme popped into my feed that solidified the connections. It was a simple black background with white text and a handful of logos. The text was straight forward and included snippets such as:

  • Netflix didn’t kill Blockbuster. Ridiculous late fees did.
  • Uber did not kill the taxi Businesses. Limited access and fare control did.
  • Amazon did not kill other Retailer. Poor customer service and experience did.
  • Technology by itself is not the disruptor. Not being customer-centric is the biggest threat to any business.

That last line is the killer. In the past two decades, just think of shakeups that have occurred in multiple industries by upstarts who used a little technological know-how and great customer service to upend established companies.

Now think about your experiences with health care in the past decade or so. How much time have you spent on hold with your insurance companies, waiting impatiently to schedule appointments or waiting for an actuarial to approve a procedure or treatment you and your physician agree you need? When you do make an office visit, how much time have you actually been able to spend discussing your health with the doctor before they had to leave the room for another appointment?

The list of challenges the industry discusses is long—mergers, cost curves, staffing, regulation, managed care—yet it seems the customer experience is not a priority. Until something shocks the system, it won’t change.

But, the shock is coming. A great customer experience is a core component of the NOVO Health promise, and based on the interviews in Ashwaubenon, it is delivering on that promise. As patients, and the employers who provide the insurance, demand that better customer experience, will traditional health systems and insurance companies be able to adapt?

Remember, Amazon started in 1994 as a bookseller.