By now, everyone has heard about the malfunctions of the Obamacare health exchange website, healthcare.gov. And in Jon Stewart's inimitable way, he poked some fun at the fact that even the announcement of the site was wracked by poor planning, a bit of desperation, and maybe some bad luck:
Regardless of whether you're a fan of the Affordable Care Act, it is frustrating for everyone that the site doesn't work better. Sadly enough, though, healthcare.gov's glitches are far from unique. We hear about similar challenges from colleagues implementing complex systems in their organization. Whether it is video conferencing, huge hospital-wide systems, or expensive hardware -- issues abound.
We studied all the usual telemedicine solutions when we created our ClickCare offering. We made it HIPAA-secure, since so many fixes weren't. We made it accessible from any device, since expensive hardware often led to failure. And we made it hybrid store-and-forward telemedicine since we saw videoconferencing create glitches at every turn. In addition to Jon Stewart's incisive piece, and this thoughtful post-mortem at the New York Times, we've been reflecting on what you can learn about implementing a telemedicine solution in your organization from healthcare.gov's challenges.
3 things you can do to make your telemedicine solution a success:
- Keep it simple and start small. The biggest embarrassment in the launch of the healthcare.gov website is that it cost $94 million to develop. The second biggest is that they didn't do sufficient testing, so didn't know what worked and what didn't. We created ClickCare so that you can start collaborating with just two users, letting you start small (and cheap) and adapt as you go. So choose an option that lets you start small and build from there -- don't invest millions and hope for the best.
- Worry about HIPAA. We hear colleagues talking all the time about how they use email for collaboration and patient communication. Of course, this kind of communication isn't safe and is subject to huge fines. Shockingly, even the government fell into this trap: one of the debates about the website has been whether it is HIPAA-secure. Our advice? Choose a telemedicine solution that takes HIPAA seriously, and promises blanket HIPAA security from the start.
- Avoid politics. Obviously, one of the biggest challenges in launching the healthcare.gov site is that the politics around it were contentious. Not all states were on board, some congresspeople were crossing their fingers for failure, and the launch had too many cooks in the kitchen. Washington may have a lot of political maneuvering, but we've seen some hospitals with even worse politics. So we always suggest using a telemedicine solution that doesn't require getting everyone on board before the start. Begin with a few enthusiastic providers and then let the others get involved as they observe the benefits.