7 Ways Healthcare Tech Can Heal Providers
Healthcare has a problem — it’s sick. Burgeoning caseloads, shrinking reimbursements, and uncertainty about the future are just some of the ailments creating industry turmoil. However, digital technology — and a brave, new digital future — has the power to heal what ails us.
Below, executives from disruptive health startups explain how the health industry can use technology to prepare for and succeed in what will be an increasingly digital future, improving profitability and patient outcomes.
1. Leverage technology to augment clinicians and critical care and delivery.
Technology will not replace the human touch. It can, however, help everyone in the medical supply chain do their jobs better, says Conor Farley, VP of development and client experience at Medalogix, a predictive analytics provider based in Nashville, Tennessee. Technology, he says, should help create efficiencies and solve existing problems. Don’t create new problems by adding technology that’s not really needed or necessary.
2. Look to partners and alliances for what you need.
Healthcare providers have specialties, and there’s a reason for that. Healthcare companies should keep that fact in mind when it’s time to add a new technology solution, says Conor. “Most healthcare technology companies do things that are niche and laser-focused, like doctors. Choose the right partners — a company that is willing to lock arms and get in the trenches to help find the best way to implement a solution, and gain adoption of whatever new tool you’re looking at.”
3. Make sure the technology speaks English, or whatever language your employees and consumers speak.
Employees and patients don’t want to learn new jargon or skills. Make sure that your technology is easy to use and understand to boost adoption and use. “In healthcare, it’s really easy to have different definitions — for example, what counts as a ‘specialist visit’ that costs $40. Consumers don’t use the same language and definitions that we do in healthcare. Design your products for how your customer will think about them,” says Alicia Beckett, a senior product manager at Clover Health, a Medicare Advantage insurer.
4. Solve the right problems.
Technology is a great tool to change health behaviors. You can succeed by being very explicit about the behavior you’re looking to change, and taking your processes down to as few as possible, says John Laursen, chief growth officer for the online care transitions marketplace at Aidin.
One common place you can start is using technology to break down siloed data, especially as it relates to patient care, says Dr. Jennifer Schneider, chief medical officer for digital health platform provider Livongo. “We are designing care today around an acute care paradigm, but health is about more than that,” she says. “It’s about behavior, mental and emotional health, physical health. We need to bring all those things together.”
5. Use technology to lighten the workload.
One of the biggest mistakes people make when adding technology is failing to remove older, outdated processes, says John. He suggests keeping simplicity and workflow reduction in mind as you work on your implementation. “You can’t be adding additional documents or extra steps without taking some out,” he says. “People in healthcare are already overworked and stressed. New technology needs to be clearly tied to goals and metrics and explicitly remove work for employees.”
6. Use data as a tool.
Data is ubiquitous. It tells countless stories if you use it correctly. “Data is a tool to help inform who is doing what,” explains Jennifer. “But data is not enough to change behavior unless you use it to benchmark the right variables.”
Start with the data you already have, suggests Laursen, and match it with the specific problem you’re trying to solve. And don’t forget to make patient- and reputation-specific data accessible to customers, says Alicia of Clover Health. “Consumers expect their data in real time at their fingertips. It’s no longer OK to have weekly (or even daily) file drops. Information from Instagram refreshes in real time, and so should healthcare data.”
7. Remember, digital isn’t everything.
It’s a really simply message, says Medalogix’s Conor. “Right now, there are a lot of companies out there doing tech just for tech’s sake,” he explains. “That’s the wrong strategy.”