These days it seems there are only a handful of healthcare technology companies – population health, analytics, secure communication and care coordination. Or rather, everyone does some or all of it. And in the case of the four categories I just named, they interestingly intersect around the patient.
Buzz is great for sales, marketing and search engine optimization. But buzz often obscures reality.
Consider care coordination – it can encompass a lot of things that certainly no one – vendor, hospital, system – does 100% of and well (unfortunately) . And at the end of the day, what patient wants uncoordinated care? Who wants completely fragmented and random care? No one, yet we all know that there is a lot of room for improvement around team communication, case management, post discharge follow-up and so forth.
To get a complete picture of the patient frustration that can stem from episodes of uncoordinated care, stop here and read this piece (and no, it isn’t from John Stossel). I think this is without a doubt the best headline I have ever read: Unpaid, stressed, and confused: patients are the health care system’s free labor. When I read it, one other term came to mind: intern (and not the medical kind – the kind I was in college where I did a lot of work no one else wanted to do, often with no clue how to do it, and never earned a dime from it).
“What I didn’t understand was the burden patients face in managing the health care system: a massive web of doctors, insurers, pharmacies, and other siloed actors that seem intent on not talking with one another. That unenviable task gets left to the patient, the secret glue that holds the system together.
For me, this feels like a part-time job where the pay is lousy, the hours inconvenient, and the stakes incredibly high. It’s up to me to ferry medical records between different providers, to track down a pharmacy that can fill my prescription, and to talk to my insurance when a treatment gets denied to find out why.”
We all know this experience and remarkably, any doctor that has become a patient likely knows it as well (perhaps the only people in healthcare that are immune to this overhead are hospital CEOs seeking care at their own institutions). But why is it this way? With all of the technology available to providers, nurses… in the hospital, outside of the hospital… on phones, tablets, kiosks…why is there so much administrative burden placed on patients?
The possible answers to my mostly rhetorical questions are limitless, but one thing is clear – most patients have learned that they are their own best advocates (the old squeaky wheel and grease comes to mind). So yes, out of all the HIT buzz words, ‘care coordination’ has the most meaning when it comes to true patient-centricity, and the most opportunity for those of us developing technology for providers (individual and system) eager, willing and focused on mitigating the frustration that patients feel with what are often best intentions