Michael O’Sullivan – Managing Partner- Psychology Health.
The technological revolution of the past few decades has shaken industries and rewritten the rules for how we live our lives. For most of us, it’s impossible to imagine going back to a world without the conveniences that our always-online, hyper-connected culture affords us today.
But despite all this, the US healthcare system is still lagging behind the curve in many ways — not necessarily in the adoption of these technologies as there has been widespread adoption in many ways — but healthcare facilities need to put the benefits of these technologies into practice. front of the consumer. This will help address a long-standing and systematic disconnect with the American public.
So, what can we learn about this growing divide between U.S. health care providers and the public, and what can be done to address it?
What are the barriers to connected, integrated care services?
Healthcare providers, collaborating doctors and even whole bodies are disconnected from each other. Patients are not meaningfully connected to their clinicians and as a result they cannot have a meaningful connection to their own health. IT systems are in silos. Clinics in rural areas are understaffed or completely disconnected from metropolitan delivery systems. Many in these areas are completely disconnected from health services and information about them.
While technology can solve this disconnect, the technological shortcomings of our healthcare systems and providers are beginning to resemble the symptoms of a bigger problem than the disease itself. This connection had been a topic of conversation some time before 2020, but it came into the picture for millions of Americans with the onset of the pandemic. What emerged was a health care system primarily concerned with generating profits rather than maintaining the good health of American citizens — and an unwillingness to give in, even in the face of a national and global health crisis.
dr. Robert Shmerling summarizes these concerns in his: article for Harvard Medical School. The main problems mentioned are prohibitively high costs, unequal access and misdirected investment in health care. Specifically, he draws attention to the fact that health care costs are so outside the financial reality of the average American that underinsured patients risk going out of business themselves if they develop a serious illness. This is compounded by the fact that US health care has traditionally been linked to employment and has a “cruel tendency” to deny quality care to those who may not be able to afford the costs. These hindering practices not only make it difficult for those most in need of care to receive it, they also stifle innovation in care delivery.
The disconnect in healthcare is only about technology. Until it isn’t.
The unfortunate reality that the pandemic has made clear is that most healthcare providers are unable to meet the needs of their patients. But why? Like dr. Shmerling concludes, there is no easy solution to a systemic problem that has been entrenched for many decades.
The amount of data available to healthcare providers today is unprecedented. But technology alone won’t get the healthcare industry out of the rut it’s been in for the past decade or more. What we need are technology-based systems and frameworks between providers that support effective diagnosis, treatment and support of patients. An excerpt from a article on MedCity News from 2013 that still reads:
“Having multiple ‘connections’ only complicates rather than simplifies the fundamental healthcare and treatment issues that the healthcare team is diligently working on…when it comes to data, healthcare is drowning in it. It no longer matters that your snappy new platform can capture a “wealth” of data. It matters whether it can be exploited, analyzed and converted into actionable information.”
We need a delicate balance between openness and privacy.
The discussion of data privacy has become increasingly relevant as we enter the third decade of the 21st century, and it’s reasonable to assume that concerns about the ethical use of sensitive data will only grow as more of our daily lives take place online.
There seems to be a widespread assumption that patients are resistant to the idea of their medical data being shared between healthcare providers, but this claim contains little truth. It has been proven time and again that consumers are Merry to share sensitive medical data if the benefits are significant and appropriate measures are taken to ensure their privacy.
Further, 75% of Americans surveyed by the Society for Participatory Medicine think their medical records should be shared with their doctors, and 9 out of 10 think it shouldn’t cost money to do so. Despite this, 20% of respondents said they or a family member could not receive adequate medical care because their data could not be shared between healthcare providers. Looking a little deeper into the data, it’s clear where this disconnect is coming from: 60% of healthcare providers experience delays in trying to access patient data, which many cite as a significant barrier to the effective use of healthcare information . Physicians are also often expected to pay exorbitant fees to pass information to, among others, blood and pathology labs, health information exchanges or governments.
Disparate healthcare data creates disjointed patient experiences.
You’ve probably heard a lot about “patient-centeredness” in the past year or more. What baffles me is that while doctors and academics in the medical field are advocating greater awareness of patient needs, our healthcare infrastructure seems to be moving in the opposite direction.
Looking at the state of healthcare in America, the common theme seems to be an ever-increasing separation between healthcare provider and customer – a disconnection in the process, in the willingness to share data and, ultimately, a separation between the reality of the medical needs of the American public and their own profit motives. Ultimately, the US health care industry struggles with a fundamental discrepancy about how it should serve the public. How we decide to tackle this problem will have a very real effect on the future of American health.