Written by: Mike McGuire | LinkedIn

I spent time at two conferences recently getting insights as to what customers out there are thinking, and worrying about. It’s clear to me that there are two types of care delivery organizations out there struggling to stay relevant. There are those that recognize their future has to be built around the patient experience. Then, there are those who still cling to the belief that what service they render some how shields them from any obligation to engage beyond that service. Having been in Healthcare for 37 years, I know “old” habits die hard. The question I pose is: has our industry become so insulated that we can’t see what’s right in front of us?

It doesn’t take a Steve Jobs to recognize that the old model of delivering healthcare, and the new reality are now crashing into one another. What made Jobs and Apple revolutionary was not the technology, but how they used the technology to crater old established industries like publishing and music. The technology allows the consumer to directly get content instead of being routed through middlemen who took a cut that inflated the cost. Acquisition simplification of any product or service is where our healthcare industry is going.

Patient’s/consumers are looking for the same inroads in healthcare. We will gravitate to those organizations that respect our time, our money, and our intelligence. As technology expands so does the ability to be more selective. Let me use myself as an example. My Primary Care practice is now on their third patient portal. A portal to me is nothing more than a lazy way of trying to communicate by forcing me into their workflow. While I understand most practices are built to clinically serve their community, the systems have been built around the physician/clinician and how they get paid, not the patient/consumer. If Steve were still with us what would he do?

Process simplification in healthcare will not be as easy as the publishing and music industries. The regulatory regimen in healthcare inhibits our willingness/ability to engage technology. We have to de-couple the reimbursement from the clinical intervention by moving toward a value-based system that rewards better behaviors on our part, and better outcomes on the clinical side. Steve would look for ways that technology could simplify the experience for both parties. There has to be symbiosis between we humans and machines. This is where Jobs was at his best. The designs of his products were simple and more importantly seamless.

In order to accomplish this, one has to step back and place themselves as consumers’ first, patients second, and care coordinator third. One of the biggest nightmares in our healthcare system is trying to navigate through the different modalities in order to get what you need. Couple that with a system that has been built around reimbursement, not convenience, and now the inefficiencies on both sides start to collide.

The symbiosis begins with the idea that computer’s/smart phones have a role to play in solving the problem. We can and have created applications that reside on these devices to empower the consumer, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. Processes don’t improve if the data you receive by the app’s utilization isn’t used to understand how to better serve the customer. Amazon shows us daily how our habits/ tendencies are used to better serve us. The analytics of that data gives the transparency that an evolving market needs to continually improve the experience.

The experience is the human connection between the technology and the care delivery we seek. I can actually visualize a day where our industry will eventually catch-up to the technology/transparency dilemma we currently face. Our issues are not around technology, but rather the attitude we have about the very people we’re here to serve. As Job’s would say, “One of my mantras is focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex; you have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple”.