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What Is The Future Of Health Care? Solution Collaboration

By News Creatives Authors , in Small Business , at January 1, 1970

Founder/Director LifeWIRE Corp, CEO Nova Insights, Strategic Advisor, HealthIT/Communication innovator, storyteller.

Looking way, way back to when I started in health IT 17 years ago (this being a mid-life career epiphany), I had an idea of enabling patients by letting them use the technology they wanted as opposed to what they were being told to use. At that time, text messaging was just starting with the advent of smarter mobile devices (think flip phones as that new innovation). The response from health providers was very much akin to “Text? Who wants to text?” Fast forward years later, and not only has text become ubiquitous, but a myriad of means of communications that customers/clients want to use.

Patients want ease of communication/service as in other industries, and there has been an explosion of health-related platforms and health-related apps (51,370) trying to get everyone to use their latest and greatest. But health providers and payors still pushed back for the most part wanting to only communicate in person. That changed somewhat over the past two years. As a result of needing remote solutions and the advent of government funding, communication/telehealth solutions were hastily “bolted” on, that is purchased and thrown in the solution mix without much thought. And with government funds to deal with remote healthcare flowing, there was no incentive for efficiency in implementation or utilization.

Today, though there are a growing set of new billing codes for some of these innovations, a lot of the funding has stopped. This has had the effect of investors and prospective clients taking a second look at what they bought, (somewhat of a delayed buyers remorse) wanting to move back time, professing lower utilization and what seems like less interest.

But there needs to be a differentiation between “interest” for a solution and “desire” for one. A patient may not have an interest in the remote solution provided by Provider “A” but have a desire for remote interaction. A fundamental reason can be traced to poor implementation, where, as recently noted by McKinsey, for most tech-oriented companies, digital transformation was considered a success by less than 30%. In pharma/health, it was considerably less.

There is a need to better understand the solutions being offered and greatly improve the transformation process.

Of a number of things, this means using proven solutions and better understanding the customers–both internally and externally. More to the point, success starts at:

• Actually knowing and understanding your customers and stakeholders.

• Understanding what motivates them.

• Involving them at the earliest time in choosing solutions and implementing them.

In the present investment environment, many of the VCs and major organizations who would look to grow have put on the brakes, having just doled out $40 billion in health IT investments in 2021 and not seeing what they wanted as a return. Add in the ever-changing and tightening economy—tight as their margins were–health systems are facing even further squeezed margins or losses, coupled with huge changes in staffing (both the great resignation and re-organization). And, as has occurred in previous similar economic environments, the first dollars to be squeezed are the innovation/transformation funds, following a mindset akin to: “We know it’s not working and perhaps even dysfunctional, but at least it’s budgeted and built into the existing process.” I believe this is not a sustainable business model and, worse, an impetus to perhaps move backward as opposed to forwards in healthcare effectiveness.

So what is going to happen? Or, more to the point, what should happen?

For the most part, the innovation and transformation have been on an enabling-solution-by-enabling-solution basis. To be effective going forward, attracting interest and investment will require bringing together proven, revenue-generating complementary solutions that enable the intended customers, engage the affected stakeholders, enhance the bottom line and address immediately and directly the staffing issues.

In addition, I believe that we need to get rid of the “all or nothing” approach to transformation, such as going from all analog to all digital. In health, that would be akin to going from 100% in-person to 100% virtual. To me, that doesn’t make sense on any level, particularly when healthcare is about people. There are times when it requires the human element as part of the care process.

The future—whether in healthcare or beyond—is about new forms of collaboration.

Collaboration amongst the users, enabling solutions and complementary companies provide a more robust set of solutions that enable prospective clients and customers to:

• Pick one or more solutions as needs may require.

• Pay no additional implementation costs or downtime in a unified system, therefore addressing changing needs in real-time instead of 24-month RFP processes.

• Reduce expensive and wasted human resources on matters that do not address needs or expertise.

• Provide virtual access for clients/customers to pre-assess needs and deliver them to the needed information or service, whether digital, virtual or hybrid.

The key to all of this is utilizing battle-tested solutions and understandings.

That said, this approach will have only a limited effect unless there is a clear knowledge of the internal and external customers and users, involving all the relevant stakeholders in the implementation process not as early as possible but as early as needed. This in itself requires collaborative eyes, insights and perspectives to shake off old biases. But not doing so will relegate the needed digital transformation to another reference point in the future on the lack of success in 2022.

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