Everyone talks about Netflix’s on demand model, in fact many aspire to replicate it in their own field. There has been a fascinating trend of healthcare companies aiming to become “The Netflix of healthcare”. From CVS’ consumer health ambitions to improving patient experiencesand pharma’s hopeful step into content driven care, healthcare has been pontificating on the potential of Netflix for several years now. And I think that’s a good thing. Yet, I don’t think we’re going about this the right way.
Instead, as Netflix tightens its belt and starts trying to woo back its subscribers and shareholders, it’s time for something radically different. It’s time for Netflix to become a healthcare company.
But what would this look like?
Well for starters, Netflix has already dipped its toes into healthcare through health content. Everything from documentaries to TV shows, yet with a strong “wellness” framing. When Netflix partnered with Headspace to deliver guided meditations, Netflix started to take on a bolder healthcare position. With Headspace’s “Guide to Meditation” and “Unwind Your Mind,” Netflix has brought a new element to mainstream: therapeutic television. And it’s not some hyped marketing ploy either, according to Headspace’s CCO Morgan Selzer, the Headspace team was inspired by a study that documented veterans being able to fall asleep to episodes of The Office.
Plus factor in that Headspace merged with telehealth provider Ginger to create Headspace Health in Fall 2021, Netflix is becoming more of a digital front door for healthcare, rather than just a place to binge content.
Imagine you watch an episode of “Unwind Your Mind”. As soon as the episode is over, you realize you’re still struggling with your anxiety. You click on your screen to schedule an appointment with Headspace Health, where you’re redirected from Netflix to the telehealth appointment page. Talk about healthcare on demand!
Managing mental health is a necessity in today’s volatile world, and if entertainment can scale emotional regulation and overall healing, then we’re talking about major implications for population wide health. Netflix is in nearly every country in the world. Imagine a global community that watches a therapeutic show localized to their culture that is also able to help them navigate mental struggles. Global health? Check!
But beyond mental wellness, Netflix has the potential for real physiological impact through entertainment.
In September 2021, neuroscience researchers from New York, Paris and the UK demonstrated that stories can synchronize heart rates between individuals. This is the latest development in the neuroscience of storytelling, but it paints a bold picture of what we already experience when we go to movie theaters or get together to watch a season finale: we are storytelling creatures and our physiology responds to stories. Netflix could tailor stories to influence heart rate, blood pressure, and even respiratory rate. If you’ve ever been scared out of your mind by a horror film or found your mood shifted from watching a comedy, you know that stories are potent sources of influence and potential healing.
So how long till we can be prescribed a Netflix series that lowers our blood pressure through innovative storytelling? Or as Netflix expands its gaming ambitions, what’s stopping Netflix from creating games that improve treatment adherence? Perhaps, most importantly, with Netflix’s global presence, how long till they become a provider of entertainment and healing?