3 Fronts of the Healthcare Technology Revolution – Part 2

A few weeks ago (February 28), I posted a blog about 3 fronts of the healthcare technology revolution:

  1. Clinical breakthroughs
  2. Communications facilitation and care coordination
  3. Healthcare business processes

Part 1 discusses clinical breakthroughs and communications and can be read below.  Today’s blog considers how technology is revolutionizing healthcare business processes and also provides a look to the future.

 

3.  Healthcare business processes

Starting in the late 1990s, the Internet began revolutionizing American business.  Consumer expectations changed as they could suddenly access information about and communicate with companies all over the world with a few mouse clicks.  And this communications is two-way.  As companies collect email addresses from interested parties, they now have an inexpensive way to communicate with potential customers and make special offers.  Furthermore, geography has disappeared as a factor for many consumer transactions.

 

These trends also affect healthcare.  Just as consumers can access produce specs and pricing for consumer goods, patients can now compare prices, infection rates, and patient comments for physicians, hospitals, and other providers. 

 

Additionally, today’s internal hospital and physician business processes bear little resemblance to those of the 1980s.   Just a few of the many areas affected are:

·         Communication with employees

·         Staff and facilities scheduling

·         Patient billing and collections

·         Contract and compliance tracking

·         Countless other processes

 

Some estimate that 20% or more of healthcare expenses could be reduced through improved business coordination and administrative efficiency.  Let’s hope so!

 

A look to the future

How will technology continue to change healthcare going forward?  Of course no one can say for sure.  But maybe the best way to answer this is to look back before we look to the future. 

 

Consider healthcare in 1985, the year when Back to the Future was one of Hollywood’s big hit movies.   How much progress has technology brought in the following areas?

·         Clinical care

·         Coordination and communication between patients and providers and among providers

·         Operational and business efficiencies

 

Does anyone want to back to 1985?

 

So what will the development curve look like going forward?  Will it taper off?  Will it be linear?  Will it show exponential growth?  Let’s not fall into the trap of the patent office official who suggested at the end of the 19th Century that the patent office be deactivated since there would be few new inventions worth patenting.  With new developments rolling out of laboratories and entrepreneurs’ garages every day, who can even begin to imagine the state of healthcare in the mid-21st Century?

 

The question is, “How attuned to these coming disruptions are you?”  Granted, we all have tasks right in front us that demand our immediate attention.  But just as we can do background monitoring of Sirius XM Radio while we are driving or performing other tasks, let’s keep our ear to the ground to make sure we aren’t left behind as the technology tsunami slams us.  I personally believe the pace of technology’s impact on healthcare will only accelerate in decades to come.