SAN FRANCISCO — Health care consumers are increasingly comparing their experience at the doctor’s office to every other transaction in their daily life. Orbitz, Uber, Open Table have eased and automated everything from booking a vacation to getting a table at your favorite restaraunt.

Influential figures from three of the biggest stakeholders in health care — hospitals, employers and insurers — powwowed here at the Health Forum and American Hospital Leadership Summit Thursday to chew over some of today’s consumer desires, and how employers are looking to satiate them. Panel member Jim Hinton — president and CEO of Presbyterian Healthcare Services, which owns a health plan and has formed a unique relationship to provide care for Intel employees in New Mexico — thinks hospitals must seize this opportunity and work more closely with purchasers and payers to meet consumer needs.

One of the lessons he has learned in working more closely with Intel over the past few years is that “we’ve underplayed how upset consumers are, honestly. I think we’re soft peddling that.” Technology and innovation are turning businesses like the taxicab industry upside down, and health care needs to figure out how to do the same. Patient portals and personal health records show promise, he says, but there’s a long way to go to match other industries’ consumer friendliness.  

“There is so much more to do,” Hinton says. “Uber is really messing us up. It’s a transformative approach and, when we think about Uber meeting health care, we fall short. We are still protecting fixed costs. We’re still doing it on our terms and there are more and more of these kinds of technology-enabled approaches that have blatant disregard for fixed costs and fixed ways of doing things that consumers really like.”

Bolstering patient access to care has been a key issue here at the Leadership Summit the past few days, but doing so is challenging when you’re short on primary care docs. In its relationship with Intel, Presbyterian has alleviated that access crunch through everything from group visits to telephone appointments, and troves of personal health information available to consumers through its patient portal. Hinton says, to excel in this consumer-focused environment, hospitals must move away from the physician-centric model to a much more team-based approach utilizing the full cadre of clinicians. “The problem is most physicians don’t go into medicine to be part of a team. They’re singles tennis players, and now we want them to be part of a flash mob.”

Team-based care has shown up in numerous other sessions at the summit. Advocate Health Care in Illinois outlined today how its working to alleviate the doc shortage by strategically assessing its staff of advance-practice clinicians and ensuring that each is practicing to the top of his or her license throughout the system.

Making use of the whole health care team will hopefully help open up access to care for all patients. Moderator and health care futurist Ian Morrison says it’s frustrating you can buy fast food at 3 a.m. in this country, but can’t see a doctor at 6 p.m. He pointed to a recent analysis from the Commonwealth Fund that pegged America dead last out of 12 countries surveyed in after-hours primary care access.

“Which is ironic, given that you’ve got cheeseburgers anywhere you want in America at 3 o’clock in the morning, but you can’t get to see a primary doctor at 6 o’clock at night. That’s nuts,” Morrison says.