By Matt Lambert, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, Curation Health
For all of the benefits technology brings to our lives – enabling us to virtually connect with loved ones during the pandemic or working from home – there is one place where technology seems to continually lag behind: healthcare.
In 2009, when the federal government passed the HITECH Act – a regulation that financially incented healthcare provider organizations to begin the transition from paper to digital patient records – there was a great deal of excitement about the idea of enabling a digital infrastructure that would allow for better patient outcomes at a lower cost. Nonetheless, this transition was incomplete as many clinicians experienced hurdles adopting the technology and subsequently added hours to their work day. Due to immature products and poorly designed workflows, many patients complained about their doctor being more focused on the computer than them. Despite this investment in time and money, patients were still challenged to access and utilize their own personal health data.
Fast-forward to today where the advent of technology has taken a much stronger hold in healthcare. Still, clinicians are experiencing more burnout than ever – some of which can clearly be tied to the pandemic but also to the rapid deployment of digital health, telemedicine and associated technologies. Today, failures specific to leveraging technology to address our biggest challenges – like physician burnout or the transition to value-based care – remain.
One need look no further than the recent failure of Haven or the pull back by leading healthcare “outsiders” like Walmart and Amazon to understand that we have yet to figure out the best practices for deploying technology in healthcare. While technology holds the potential to fundamentally change how healthcare is delivered, it also poses potential harm – especially for physicians on the frontlines of care.
As providers and payers navigate the necessary transition from fee-for-service to value-driven healthcare, they need to carefully navigate the potential pitfalls. In addition, as healthcare “outsiders” look to fundamentally disrupt healthcare, they too need to understand where technology can improve processes and drive value – and where it just doesn’t make sense .
Perhaps, most importantly, the companies looking to drive adoption of technology in healthcare need to fundamentally understand that for doctors, better technology doesn’t mean more technology. As we look to solve some of healthcare’s most vexing problems, we are best served as business leaders and technologists to focus on the following:
- Understand the heart of the problem we are solving for with technology – One of the repeated mistakes technology innovators make in healthcare is not truly understanding the essence of the problem. Before creating technology, it’s important to collaborate with technology minded clinicians. This is a key lesson learned from the initial push of EHRs. When creating technology for a healthcare organization, innovators need to have a hands-on understanding of the complexities of workflow and what information and resources the end users need – and don’t need.
- Recognize that less is more – With more and more data becoming accessible in healthcare, there are more organizations promising to gather, analyze and derive insights from big data. Honestly, healthcare providers and payers don’t need more data to analyze – they need the right data at the right time in the right part of the workflow. Technology innovators that understand the “three rights”, and that are able to guide providers and payers on the data that matters most will be best positioned to add value. That is what will fundamentally drive better outcomes and reduce
- Start with the doctor – If the end goal of value-based care is driving improved outcomes and reducing costs over time, we must “begin at the beginning” – with the doctor and the patient at the point of care. Technology innovators that are adding new workflows and administrative duties to doctors, without adding any provider incentives, are setting themselves up for failure. As one of my close physician friends recently shared, if it’s not in his current electronic health record workflow, he doesn’t want to have anything to do with it. Doctors simply don’t have additional time and mindshare to offer up to mediocre technology – especially not now amid the pandemic.
The reality is that technology can make a bad process go even faster. That is why it’s important for provider and payer organizations to partner with technology innovators that: understand the complexities of the problems they are facing; recognize that less is more when it comes to data and insights; and fundamentally “get” that technology solutions need to make doctor’s lives easier – not harder. If we want technology to have a leading role in healthcare – especially as we transition to value over volume – it needs to simplify the workflow for clinicians, and allow them to prioritize patient care above all else. To read more about the ideal tech stack needed for value-based care, check out our related blog – Assessing Your Tech Stack for Value-Based Care – Curation Health (curationhealthcare.com)