There is a famous saying about innovation: “It is not about improving the candle, but rather making a light bulb.
For decades, healthcare has talked about becoming consumer-centric. The initiatives to this end, for the most part, have been incremental in nature: that is, building a better candle.
We have set up kiosks in our reception areas, set up billboards with live wait times, and provided apps and portals for limited self-service.
Improvements ? Sure. But they don’t represent a change to a truly consumer-centric model – no light bulb yet.
So, we hear a lot about the pursuit of the triple goal of reducing costs, improving outcomes, and increasing patient satisfaction (now properly extended to the quadruple goal, which adds the very real problem of solving professional burnout of providers).
Over the past three decades, I have had the privilege of serving this industry on both the supplier side and the technology side. During this time, I have never met anyone who does not agree that it is imperative to cut costs, improve results and increase satisfaction for all stakeholders. , both patients and providers. But I think it’s fair to say that we still have a lot of room for improvement.
Perhaps the COVID-19 pandemic represents a sea change – our light bulb moment. Could the silver lining be that we are forced to radically transform in a meaningful way?
The innovative solutions that have been deployed to address the COVID-19 crisis provide the industry with the opportunity to advance the use of technology to deliver better patient outcomes and create tools that integrate seamlessly in a doctor’s workflow. It has always been the vision, but the coronavirus crisis has highlighted the urgency, immediacy and magnitude of this need.
Consumer engagement in healthcare is key to the kingdom
Pressure from the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the healthcare industry in a rational direction, effectively pouring lighter fluid on a transformation that was already underway.
COVID-19 has proven that technology can work in healthcare when it comes to patient comfort, access and quality care at a lower cost. The way we deliver health care will be fundamentally changed for the better.
Software has allowed healthcare providers to grow and expand at unprecedented speed in response to the overwhelming needs of physicians and patients, as hospitals struggle to curb the spread of the virus while continuing to provide care during the pandemic.
For example, a patient engagement platform launched a remote COVID-19 screening awareness program to help providers better allocate valuable resources, in just 48 hours. In another case, one of the largest healthcare systems has radically changed the way it communicates with patients. It started with a text-to-chat interaction they started building for flu season, so patients could text and explain their symptoms rather than going to the emergency room.
This shift to a people-centered approach will forever be our new normal
In the short term, there will be a learning curve to navigate as patient apps get set up much faster than usual. Software vendors dealing with protected health information (PHI) should continue to follow appropriate guidelines to ensure the safety and security of their customers’ information.
In the long term, we will see a critical and life-changing transformation through software, such as the Connected Physician Experience that enables proactive or reactive care; the ability of older people to “age in place” through technological support at home; provision of routine care and even some acute care via video visits; better screening capacity “at home” or “at work” in terms of disease detection; and a wider use of artificial intelligence to sort out situations and deploy resources.
At its most recent level, the software enables three things: cloud scalability, agility to create quickly, and one-on-one communication with consumers. The solutions born out of necessity during this crisis will not go away when COVID-19 is contained. Consumers will not allow it.
It’s our light bulb moment. Despite overwhelming challenges and very real uncertainties, I am confident in the ability of our industry to heal, grow and continue to create solutions with real resistance. From that day on, traditional care will evolve to meet consumers where they are, on the channel they prefer and when they need it.
Susan Lucas Collins, Global Head of Health Services, Twilio
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