During a recent doctor visit I had my blood pressure taken. Nothing too exciting to talk about. During my follow up visit a technician came in and took my blood pressure again. She then remarked, “Oh that’s great, your blood pressure went down.” To which I replied, “I never knew it was high in the first place, what are the numbers?”
A coworker just returned from a business trip complaining that his flight from Richmond, VA to JFK was delayed over 10 hours. His main gripe was that the airline employee offered little insight into the cause other than mechanical difficulties After a few hours of sitting in the gate he went up to her and asking why it was taking so long. She said, “do you really want to know why?”, and went on to describe a paperwork inefficiencies, crew changes, and needing a new plane as the underlying causes.
Both of these events struck me as instances in which consumers (insert customers, patients, end users, and other like terms here) were demanding a higher level of information and transparency than what was usually offered. It was not out of laziness that the doctor and the airline employee withheld information, it was out of protection. They were the gatekeepers who decided what was pertinent and what wasn’t.
Today we have Wikipedia and WebMD with which we explore, research, and self diagnose ourselves. We can check our alternatives, inform our friends, and write scathing reviews when met with poor customer service. There are no gatekeepers of information online and that frustrates us when we are met with circumstances like these in real life.
The internet is forcing our need for information and our expectations of receiving it in a transparent manner to increase. Eventually, this need will push us to become more open and comfortable sharing information in our offline interactions. For example, medical records will one day be stored digitally and made available to us on demand – transferring the current ownership model from doctor to patient. Or, Continental will partner with Acela trains and Enterprise rentals to assist passengers in case of delays or emergencies.
Ten years ago, the internet was only a reflection of our culture playing the role of facilitator; however, now it is also influencing our thoughts and our expectations of how things should and shouldn’t be.