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Kenan Institute 2022 Annual Theme: Stakeholder Capitalism
Market-Based Solutions to Vital Economic Issues
News & Media
Nov 14, 2019

Jeff Arnold and Sharecare: The Future of Digital Health

What if you had access to all your medical records on your smart phone, and could share them instantly with a doctor your phone tagged as the best one in your locale to treat your condition?

What if your phone could not only tell you what restaurants were nearby, but also which had the healthiest menus?

Calling smart phones “potentially the greatest healing device we’ve ever had,” Sharecare Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Arnold shared his vision for the future of digital healthcare in the United States as part of the Dean’s Speaker Series on Nov. 8 at the Kenan Center in Chapel Hill. At the event, hosted by the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise, Arnold outlined the potential of Sharecare, a digital health company he founded with Dr. Mehmet Oz “to help each person build a longer, better life by enabling health transformation at the individual, organizational and community level,” according to the Sharecare website.

One thing that is increasingly lacking in healthcare, said Arnold, is the consumer experience. “How do you treat a patient like a guest in a five-star hotel?” he asked. The answer, he said, lies in capitalizing on opportunities for disruptive innovation led not just by healthcare organizations, but through a variety of related fields. He challenged the audience of mostly UNC-Chapel Hill students and faculty to look to the university’s schools of business, public health, medicine, pharmacy, law, nursing, information and library systems, and dentistry, among others, for inventive healthcare solutions.

The area where such disruptive innovation is most needed, Arnold said, is the relationship between patients and providers. He noted that healthcare providers have been slow to change their existing model, and that transformation is more likely to come from focused startups and digital health initiatives.

Although Sharecare is a relatively new endeavor, this year alone, the company is on target to onboard 30 million subscribers. The Georgia state government is one of its most recent success stories. Developing the concept of “green days,” in which subscribers are rewarded financially for adhering to certain health goals the state has set, Sharecare has helped Georgia move up eight spots in at least one national healthcare ranking.

Arnold’s emphasis on community-based systems extends beyond his passion for healthcare. When asked for advice on how to be a successful entrepreneur, Arnold, who has no business or healthcare background, said, “Surround yourself with people who complement you, not just tell you what you want to hear. It’s a lot easier to do it with others than compete with everyone around.”

For more on the Dean’s Speaker Series, click here.

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