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Can Healthcare Ever Become Consumer-Centric???

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You can’t swing a dead cat around without hitting the realities of how technology can help us transform our industry we’ve spent our careers in to become more consumer oriented. The issue is do we have the will to change our industry and the courage to face the tough issues of data governance and security as we move swiftly. The very folks that have the furthest to go are the folks under the most relentless pressure I’ve seen exerted since the advent of PPS way back when. Care delivery in this country is under siege. We can argue that it’s well deserved or not but it doesn’t change the steep hill we must climb. We have both doctors and nurses leaving direct care delivery. The pressure of providing the service and the technology we’re currently using is creating an inordinate amount of work that produces no value. We’re creating a bureaucratic nightmare that doesn’t compliment the effort of either those that are rendering or receiving those services and there’s no end in sight. It’s as if the good folks in Washington believe that with a mere stroke of a “Harry Potter” wand will make all of the old disappear and a new far better world is just right around the next bend. While that may work in a Hollywood movie, I haven’t seen that manifested in real life.

I’ve said repeatedly that the professionals in this industry are some of the best. Yet their plight and by extension ours, has been taken over by forces that we’re now just beginning to understand. Because our industry lacks any form of transparency, as consumers we’re left to our own devices. As I write this I’m thinking about the Delta App on my phone and my Amazon Prime experiences just yesterday. Both companies have expended millions of dollars trying to learn about our habits and us. They now use that knowledge to make sure that we keep using their products and services by making our experiences very simple, very easy, and very targeted. Both companies are aggressive with surveys on the experiences that we’ve had and what can be done to make that experience better. They send us reminders of things we’ve done in the past as well as products and services that may be of interest. Now some may feel that kind of communication adds a layer of pressure that we don’t want or need. For me, I would much rather deal with an organization that thinks enough of my business to keep me front and center as opposed to a necessary evil to be dealt with when absolutely necessary. The transition of these two companies has happened over the last 20 years. Amazon was started in 1994 and Delta started flying passengers in 1929. Neither one got here over night but Amazon has really lead the charge when it comes to being consumer-centric.

The key to making our industry consumer-centric is data, DUH!!! The difference is that the data that Delta and Amazon are focused on is centered on our habits and how we chose to spend our money. We can’t say that about our industry can we??? Well, healthcare is fundamentally different than any other industry and therefor not subject to the same drivers. Wrong!!! The closer we get to value-based purchasing, the higher the deductibles become, the more the focus needs to be on you and your preferences. Yes, healthcare is a collaborative effort between care delivery and us. And yes we’re beginning to see changes in approaches stimulated by our need to spend less and get more in return. But we’re moving at a snails pace by comparison to other industries. How do we speed things up???

The way to speed things up is to start with the patient at the center and work backwards from there. Every touch point, every occasion of service, every communication needs to analyzed and reviewed. Where we find bottlenecks we eliminate them and then find out from the source whether we hit the target. The measures that are coming out of CMS are a good starting point. All that said, our industry has to communicate more freely and openly with their patients/consumers. We are all sensitive to the issues around data security but we cannot allow that to de-rail our march to become more consumer-centric. At G2 Works, we’re spending countless hours thinking about how to help care delivery with this challenge. We’re both patients as well as consumers like you. And while we’re making progress there is still much to do.