ClickCare Café

Your Medical Team is Changing, Whether You Like It or Not

Posted by Lawrence Kerr on Tue, Jul 31, 2018 @ 07:00 AM

rawpixel-577480-unsplashOne of my favorite parts of medicine is the experience of working across the continuum of care, with providers from a variety of backgrounds. Certainly, colleagues like nurse practitioners and RNs are deeply valued but people like orderlies and administrators are also passionate parts of the healthcare system that form key parts of the team. 

In my practice, one of the most successful parts of the what we did was to demonstrate in word and action that every single person, who is part of the medical team, is deeply valued and has a unique contribution that only he/she can bring. This approach was brought into our lauded Cranio-facial Team, as well, through which providers from social workers to plastic surgeons to oral surgeons, each of whom collaborated on complex cases like cleft palate and cleft lip care. In short: much of the richness I find in medicine comes from the diversity in our medical teams. 

That said, it can feel unmooring or even alarming to notice the ways that our medical teams are changing, especially when it comes to a relative decrease in the importance of physicians and the boom in numbers of providers like nurse practitioners. 

A recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine, Growing Ranks of Advanced Practice Clinicians — Implications for the Physician Workforce, looks at the boom in advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), relative to the almost imperceptible growth of physicians in the US.

To start, one simple fact stood out to me: “Throughout the history of modern medicine, physicians have made up the vast majority of professionals to diagnose, treat, and prescribe medication to patients.”  This, of course is changing. An increasing part of healthcare is done by advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), including nurse practitioners and physician assistants. Even with the current numbers, 41% of physicians work with nurse practitioners.

While the number of physicians in the US is growing very slowly (projected at 0.5% per year 2016-2030), the number of APRNs is growing quickly. Training times for these providers are shorter and there are fewer institutional constraints. The article authors did a rigorous projection of expected physician growth alongside expected APRN growth, based on census data, growth rates, and other key data. The result is that comparing 2001 to 2030, the percentage of APRNs relative to the pool of providers and APRNs together will go from 13% to 35%.

As doctors, we can bemoan these changes. We are all too familiar with the depth and rigor of the training we’ve received and it’s hard to fathom how an APRN can provide care that is as good as training that is less sophisticated.

But the reality is that, as the study authors assert, "These dynamics will have lasting effects on the composition of the health care workforce and working relationships among health professionals.”  Our medical team is changing -- our choice is how we adapt our work so that our medical teams can be as effective and satisfying to us as possible. 

The authors state unequivocally that “The changing composition of the workforce will have implications for provider teams.”  They point out that primary care providers are tending to work in larger groups with varying backgrounds and types of training. But this doesn't always go smoothly. Alarmingly, a recent study of NPs and physicians working on primary care teams “found that physicians, other staff, and patients often confused the roles and skills of various providers and that these misunderstandings often led to practices undermining the productivity and efficiency of NPs.”

This is where I believe my colleagues who are innovating in the field of care coordination, medical collaboration, and hybrid store-and-forward telemedicine have some crucial insights to share. By using telemedicine-supported healthcare collaboration, we fundamentally change the orientation of medicine from a sole provider giving the best care she can to a team of providers offering the best care they can. If we are individual providers working on our own, APRNs are a threat to physicians, and vice versa. Further, their very existence muddles things, creating confusion in care plans and complicating care coordination. In many instances, this is how things are right now.

On the other hand, if we have a consistent system to use telemedicine-based healthcare collaboration to work as a team -- like iClickCare -- then APRNs and physicians can work together smoothly, each contributing his/her unique perspectives in a way that doesn't detract from the work of the other. 

And ultimately, that's a more satisfying, effective, easeful way to work, regardless of what the healthcare landscape looks like now, or in the future.

You can try iClickCare without cost or implementation challenges. Get it free here:

Try the iClickCare 14-day evaluation

Tags: healthcare collaboration software, telemedicine technology, care coordination, nurse practitioners, Physician Assistant

Big Investments in Telemedicine Have Risks and Rewards

Posted by Lawrence Kerr on Thu, Jul 05, 2018 @ 06:00 AM

rawpixel-570908-unsplashMany people, and most hospitals, identify money as the “missing piece” for the many projects they want to take on.

You would do that kitchen renovation, were it not for lack of funds. Your organization may add that new patient wing, but only if the fundraising goes as planned.

For decades, telemedicine — and digital health more broadly — existed in a very similar way. The field tended to feel resource-constrained and undervalued societally. There was so much we wanted to do, if only there were the money for it.

Recently, it has looked like that is changing — but is it for the benefit of medicine as a whole or not?

Looking at the business side of our arena, it seems as if investors are catching on to the potential. Rock Health has released a new report showing that “Investors sunk $3.4 billion into digital health companies during the first six months of 2018, nearly matching the record-setting $3.5 billion during the first half of 2017.”  Investors are investing more total, and more in each deal — the average deal size is currently $17.9 million.

Mostly, I think, this is a very positive development. Telemedicine has lagged behind so many areas of investment. And the truth is that investments in this kind of technology and workflow often have incredible benefits, financially, medically and socially.

Further, it looks as if this investment may be more considered than impulsive, with repeat investors leading the way. “Rock Health analysts noted that there have been more repeat digital health investors than new ones since 2016, a sign that the field is attracting experienced firms with long-term goals rather than 'tourists' attracted to the hype of the digital health industry.”

All of that said, I do think that intensive investment carries its risks. The cycle of invent, test, traction and sell can lead to a pace of growth that may not be sustainable. Is there a place for responsibility, measured growth, and stability? Excessive investment, poorly considered, at too fast a pace, usually only benefits a few -- and then only in a limited way. (We can all think of the example of the disillusioned startup founder with limitless wealth but deep dissatisfaction.)

Digital health may be a trendy field, but ultimately, it all boils down to a single patient, talking to a single person caring for him or her, and each of them working together to pursue the messy art of health. This isn't a process that can be rushed, forced, or even "optimized" in many cases.

Ultimately, I think that both the risks and the rewards of this kind of investment can be instructive to healthcare providers and hospital systems. Investors have sophisticated vetting mechanisms and the fact that money is pouring into this space, is important information that may indicate where hospital systems should invest too. That said, just as nationwide investment should allow for reflection, organic growth, and ethical considerations -- I believe that investment at the organization level should allow for these "slower" considerations too. As long as patient care improvement, and not resistance to change, leads the way

 

To learn more about one of the most important sectors of digital health, download our Quick Guide to Hybrid Store-and-Forward Telemedicine:

ClickCare Quick Guide to Hybrid Store-and-Forward

Tags: telemedicine technology, hybrid store and forward medical collaboration

Why Intensive Programs Can Save Money Long Term

Posted by Lawrence Kerr on Thu, May 17, 2018 @ 06:02 AM

nick-hillier-328372-unsplashSometimes it is said that one needs to "slow down in order to speed up" -- meaning that the things that take time now can often save us time later. 

UnitedHealthcare's HouseCalls program, which recently surpassed 5 million visits, seems like just that kind of "slow down to speed up" situation. You wouldn't think that the program -- which brings healthcare to people's homes with house calls -- would be any kind of revenue generator or money saving initiative. But the results have been surprising.The program brings healthcare providers into peoples' homes, primarily for checkups and preventative care. For Paul Engwall, the visit by Hesper Nowatzki, a nurse practitioner, was life-saving. A simple urine dipstick done during Nowatzki's home visit, revealed kidney disease, which has since been treated. 

As Fierce Healthcare reports, "The program was solidified six years ago with the purchase of XLHealth, a Medicare Advantage plan that focused on beneficiaries with chronic conditions that were also eligible for Medicaid. At the time, UnitedHealth predicted it would add about $2 billion in revenues." 

The program tends to cut hospitalizations and high-cost admissions. "Practitioners typically spend 45 to 60 minutes with each member, often addressing issues that a primary care physician can’t, such as access to food and transportation that may be inhibiting access to care." 

This program may not win any awards for most cutting-edge technology, but the care and savings are exemplary. To us, it's a great example of a simple program that questions what we think are the most cost-effective ways to provide care, in order to prioritize care that is truly helpful for our patients.

Of course, we happen to think the program would be even more powerful if nurse practitioners like Hesper Nowatzki had the capability of collaborating with other providers (like specialists). How much better if any little "red flag" didn't mean the patient immediately needing to jump in the car, but could rather be additionally helped by a remote team. But for now, programs like these are certainly steps forward -- they question the things that we think will save money and prioritize the things that will really improve care.

 

Hear stories of how telemedicine programs are cutting costs and improving care: 

ClickCare Quick Guide to Telemedicine

Tags: telehealth and hipaa, telemedicine technology

Evidence-Based Analysis of Healthcare Costs -- and The Role of Telemedicine

Posted by Lawrence Kerr on Wed, Mar 28, 2018 @ 06:00 AM

Q

The most common questions that we get about iClickCare are related to cost and ROI.  What is the return on investment of telemedicine? Can doing healthcare collaboration bring additional income into the organization? Will iClickCare help us cut costs? (To which we answer: the ROI is excellent; definitely; and for sure.)

It makes sense, given the cost pressures that providers, practices, and hospital systems face these days. So much of what we do boils down to cutting costs or increasing income for the institutions that we work for.

This focus on costs makes sense in a lot of ways. But it is also a shame, given the profound impacts of using telemedicine for healthcare collaboration that go far beyond cost savings. Ultimately, for us, iClickCare is about good medicine, not just good economics. We find that healthcare providers, who do telemedicine and do healthcare collaboration, experience less burnout, better outcomes, AND increased income and decreased costs. It simply goes back to providing the best care that we possibly can for our patients: a principle we all learned in medical school.

That said, we were intrigued by a recent study that gets deep into healthcare costs in the US — with some surprising conclusions. Fierce Healthcare elaborates on the study by Papanicolas et al., which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association last week. It's an exploration that lends some good science to the conversation around costs.

There are fascinating findings, some of which debunk drivers of healthcare that we tend to take as “obvious” causes of high costs. Conventional wisdom says, "Sure, medicine in the US is more expensive than in other places, but outcomes are better, and the costs generally come from use of high-tech interventions and pro specialists." 

The reality is more complicated than that. In 2016, the US spent 17.8% of its GDP on healthcare. That's significantly higher than in the 10 other high income countries (United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Australia, Japan, Sweden, France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Denmark) that the study looks at. Expenditures in those countries range from 9.6% (Australia) to 12.4% (Switzerland). And, sadly, life expectancy (perhaps a proxy for outcomes, or perhaps not) is lower in the US than it is in the rest of these high-income countries.

The first focus of the study was the source of these high costs. As the study authors report, “Administrative costs of care (activities relating to planning, regulating, and managing health systems and services) accounted for 8% in the US vs a range of 1% to 3% in the other countries.” It turns out that it is precisely these administrative costs, alongside pharmaceutical costs, that account for the total cost difference in the US relative to the other countries -- not costly specialists or expensive procedures. 

The study certainly raises important questions about value. And the conversation around evidence-based approaches to costs is hugely important. It's certainly detrimental to our field that we often don't tend to apply the same amount of rigor to analyses of costs and drivers as we do to the content of our medical practices. Ultimately, cost concerns drive the context in which healthcare providers work, so it's crucial that we understand these costs accurately.

But there are no easy answers. Why do we spend more on administrative costs of care? Is it because we're failing at care coordination and healthcare collaboration or is it for another reason? Why is our life expectancy lower? Is it because of poor outcomes relative to the other countries, or does our heterogenous country have different starting points than these other countries (as just one example of an additional explanatory factor.) 

While fascinating and helpful, the study certainly doesn't give us simple conclusions. It's an important conversation to be having, but it's also important not to jump to knee-jerk responses that don't really support us in moving forward.

As healthcare providers, most of what we can control is just in our patient-by-patient decisions, trying to improve care, bringing down the time that we spend playing phone tag or coordinating care, and improving outcomes. And ultimately, that may make the biggest difference of all.

 

Get an honest review of one of the most cost-effective telemedicine approaches available, here:

 

ClickCare Quick Guide to Hybrid Store-and-Forward

Tags: healthcare collaboration software, cost effectiveness, telemedicine technology

Looking to the Future of Medicine: Machine Learning, Telemedicine, and iClickCare

Posted by Lawrence Kerr on Wed, Mar 07, 2018 @ 06:01 AM

markus-spiske-187777-unsplash.jpgWe’ve heard key investors say that the biggest startups over the next 10 years will be those that follow the model, “machine learning + _____________.” In other words, the future’s biggest companies will be innovating at the intersection of computer’s intelligence and human reality and wisdom.

Similarly, many people who look to the future of medicine see healthcare being increasingly supported — perhaps in profound or even dominant ways by computer diagnosis.

iClickCare, of course, is medicine supported by technology, also. And a big part of our work is finding the right balance and interaction between people and the technology. Our interface is meant to minimize the feel of using technology while maximizing the “behind the scenes” work that the technology is doing to support the collaboration and coordination. It’s sophisticated, patent pending technology that feels deeply simple to the healthcare providers that use it to collaborate.

This week, we were both saddened and inspired to hear about the recent passing of Catherine Wolf, a scientist who focused her work on the interactions between computers and humans. She was a forerunner in her field, working at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center and helping develop voice-recognition systems as well as early “picture phones” and cellphones.

She also was diagnosed with ALS 22 years ago, giving her firsthand experience of using computers to communicate when her mobility was limited to an eyebrow raise. She continued to work, innovate, and to write, learning to use technology as adaptations to allow her to continue to thrive.

Her story reminds us of the profound potential of the “collaboration” between humans and computers. We’re reminded of how much we’ve progressed in the last few decades and we imagine how much more potential there is.

We’re inspired by the potential for deeper humanity, creativity, and contribution, as exemplified both by Wolf’s work as well as her life.

 

For an in-depth look at why we choose the technology we did for iClickCare, and how it "gets out of the way" of the people using it, download our free Quick Guide: 

 

ClickCare Quick Guide to Hybrid Store-and-Forward

Tags: telemedicine technology, store and forward medical collaboration

What Your Netflix Recommendations and Telehealth Have in Common

Posted by Lawrence Kerr on Wed, Sep 06, 2017 @ 06:01 AM

samuel-zeller-360588.jpgAs you probably know, machine learning refers to the process through which a system can use a programmed process to "learn" and become more accurate over time. It's different from the way most of us think of a robot or a computer program because in this case, the programming changes based on the results it gets and new inputs available.

Experts say that the extensive use of machine learning in healthcare is inevitable. But how might that affect healthcare and what will the consequences of it be?

Machine learning is not a new field -- in fact, it was described by Arthur Samuel in 1959 as, “the field of study that gives computers the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed.” But exponential improvements in computing, plus innovations in AI and technology in general, have meant that the field has started burgeoning over the last few years.

Machine learning is used in applications from cyber security to healthcare to, well, the movies that Netflix suggests you watch after a long week. In medicine, we're seeing applications in everything from cancer prediction and prognosis, to diagnosis in medical imaging, to treatment suggestions.

For instance, when you search for, say, peach pie recipe on Google, you'll see search results based on what Google thinks matches those words. That's a regular computer algorithm. Machine learning comes into play, however, in that Google also "watches" (actually a computer collecting data) which search results you click on, and how much time you spend on the pages you visit, to re-rank and re-sort the search results it gives the next person searching for peach pie recipe.

There is a lot that is scary and even threatening about this new world of technology. It's disturbing to think that the best doctors are sometimes worse diagnosticians than computers. And it's true that, as this JAMA paper identifies, "comparative studies on the effectiveness of machine learning–based decision support systems (ML-DSS) in medicine are lacking, especially regarding the effects on health outcomes."

The JAMA paper looks at several potential unintended consequences of the use of machine learning in medicine, for instance:

  • Reducing the skills of physicians
    For instance, a study of 30 internal medicine residents showed that the residents exhibited a decrease in diagnostic accuracy (from 57% to 48%) when electrocardiograms were annotated with inaccurate computer-aided diagnoses."
  • Overreliance on text.
    The JAMA paper reports that machine learning "could lead to reduced interest in and decreased ability to perform holistic evaluations of patients, with loss of valuable and irreducible aspects of the human experience such as psychological, relational, social, and organizational issues."

Ultimately, machine learning is like any other technology in medicine -- the scalpel, anesthesia, or telehealth. These tools are powerful, and come with almost inalterable impacts on how we practice medicine. They're also in our control, we're supposed to wield responsibly and manage the negative consequences. 

In the field of telemedicine, we at ClickCare are determined advocates for healthcare providers to be thoughtful about what technology they use for telehealth, and how they use it.

We advocate for healthcare providers to do 2 key things when it comes to technology in telehealth and telemedicine:

  • Be open to new technology even as you're discerning about what to use.
    Of course, technology comes with unintended consequences and challenges. But it can also enrich and enhance the practice of medicine. We advocate for providers to be proactive in selecting technology that really works for them -- neither a "bury your head in the sand" approach, nor a "take whatever comes along" approach. You know what's best for you and your patients.

  • Be open to redefining some aspects of your role as a medical provider.
    As technology shifts, we have the opportunity and responsibility of shifting our roles as providers, too. Machine learning may create the ability for providers to focus less on the mechanics of medicine and more on the human art of it. Telemedicine based medical collaboration allows providers to step out of their silos and treat patients as a true team. We believe that the most successful, happiest providers are those that are willing to find new ways of working as our tools change.

 

We believe the same principles apply to our adoption and use of machine learning in medicine. And we look forward to being on that journey with you. 

 

Want to get all the information before making a telehealth or telemedicine decision? Get our free summary of hybrid store-and-forward telemedicine so you can be informed:

ClickCare Quick Guide to Hybrid Store-and-Forward

 

Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

Tags: telemedicine technology, telehealth, ACO

Are You Being "Tricked" into Ordering Extra Tests for Patients?

Posted by Lawrence Kerr on Wed, Apr 22, 2015 @ 07:30 AM

testsinmedicine

My teachers in medical school and residency did not take kindly to me ordering extra tests for patients.

You don't order tests that you don't need, they would tell me. Because when you're not following a logical path, but just poking around for what might come up, you can end up with bad conclusions, bad results, and wasted resources.

However, a recent article in the New York Times reminded me that medical providers are "tricked", guided, and incentivized to order extra tests at every turn. Dr. Zuger looks at how, these days: "Guidelines mandate tests, and patients expect them; abnormal tests mean medication, and medication means more tests."

No one is tricking us, and yet the system can influence us to make decisions we might not otherwise make-- no one's fault but everyone's problem. 

Why does this happen, when most medical providers know better? Dr. Zuger says that "As in education, our test-ordering behavior and our patients’ results increasingly define our achievements, and in the near future our remuneration is likely to follow." Plus, most of the technology we use doesn't help either. EMRs routinely spit out demands for tests that may not be necessary and this kind of poorly designed technology can skyrocket costs in the end.
In medicine, “true quality is extremely hard to measure,” Dr. Welch writes in a related article, “What is easy to measure is whether doctors do things.” And although pay-for-performance may not get at "true quality" completely, it certainly seems like an improvement from the current direct incentives for providers to shower patients with tests in a pay-for-services system that is not intrinsically bad, but is broken.
Ultimately, each of us can only guide our own behavior. When we choose to collaborate, use our EMRs in discerning ways, and let our good sense override the metric of the day, that's when we're contributing to a culture of extraordinary medicine. We see iClickCare as supporting those choices, but ultimately, you can do it with or without a tool to help you -- the important thing is following your own heart, training, and intellect.
For stories of how medical collaboration brings good choices back to medicine, get our free ebook here:
ClickCare Quick Guide to Medical Collaboration
Photo by tyfn on Flickr, used under Creative Commons rights

Tags: telemedicine, medical collaboration, good medicine, EHR, EMR, telemedicine technology

5 Tips for Using Technology with Medical Teams for care coordination

Posted by Lawrence Kerr on Tue, Apr 14, 2015 @ 07:30 AM

teams_and_technology

When I first started practicing, there certainly wasn't as much talk about technology. Now we're all thinking about BYOD, iPhones, EMRs, EHRs, and big data.

But there has always been discussion of how to use the tools available to us to make research stronger, care easier, and medicine better. And for decades, I've been experimenting with the best ways to use tools like telemedicine to support medical teams in caring for complex patients - facial deformities, handicapped children, spinal bifida and everyday care. Especially in the early years of computers in medicine, it was not always easy to get the team on board. There were a lot of long meetings, backtracking, and mistakes. So I learned some lessons the hard way about how to work on teams, integrate technology, and ensure great outcomes.

My 5 hardest earned lessons on using technology for medical teams, especially in managed care settings:

  1. Explain your technology choice and the reasons for your decision. Be open and honest with full disclosure of the pros and cons so teammates don't feel like they've been forced into a particular choice.
  2. Enlist the support of a champion. Find a person on the team with idealism and energy -- and show them how these new tools will help leverage everyone's efforts.
  3. Support the weakest link. After all, it is a team, and a team is only as strong as its weakest link. There are team members who preceded the information revolution. Often presenting themselves as proud of their computer illiteracy, they often strongly wish to be part ot the new age. So rather than leaving them behind, make them part of the solution.
  4. Make sure the technology helps solve the team's problem. We're all human, and it's hard to care about someone else's agenda. So if the technology solves the government's or joint commission's problem (as opposed to the team's or patient's problem), you'll struggle to get anywhere.
  5. Choose technology that is quick, on demand, detached from schedules, and delightful. Information overload has numbed minds, pained wrists, and strained eyes. The wrong technology for the wrong reasons (any reason that does not take care of the provider and patient first) will never work. Security is paramount, but when doubt, err on the side of simplicity.

 

 

Click here to get a rundown of telemedicine options and what to look for in a solution:

 

ClickCare Quick Guide to Telemedicine

Tags: medical collaboration, good medicine, telemedicine technology, managed care

How Bad Tech Can Skyrocket Managed Care Costs

Posted by Lawrence Kerr on Wed, Apr 08, 2015 @ 07:30 AM

tech

 

A sure way to form a bond with any medical provider is to share "war stories" of your EMR / EHR. Whether a specialist or a generalist, and across the spectrum of care, providers struggle with the heavy burden that this technology has created. 

EMRs with poor user interfaces, no collaboration mechanism, and formats that force counterintuitive thinking are hugely detrimental to providing good patient care. They contribute to the shrinking time we have with each patient and, as the article explores, can contribute to making mistakes. 

Things get even worse when you look at the performance of most EMRs / EHRs in managed care system. When the hospital system or ACO is responsible for the full scope of performance and efficiency for each patient, the losses that bad tech causes become compounded. There is an ever-worsening shortage of providers; how can we rationalize even a 20 minutes loss in their time each day due to bad tech? 

So what are providers and administrators to do? Well, we certainly don't have all the answers, and we know first-hand how frustrating technology can be. But here are 4 things that our colleagues have found to make technology in medicine a blessing, rather than a curse: 

  1. Invest in well-designed technology. Some products invest more in the design of the interface and functionality of the tool. Demand that the tool that helps you care for patients is elegant, easy to use, and helps you do your work in the ways you want to do it.
  2. Change how you work. As Robert Wachter said in the New York Times recently: "In health care, changes in the way we organize our work will most likely be the key to improvement... It means creating new ways to build teamwork once doctors and nurses are no longer yoked to the nurse’s station by a single paper record. It means federal policies that promote the seamless sharing of data between different systems in different settings."
  3. Figure out if there is just a lag time. The New York Times article above also mentioned what Erik Brynjolfsson, a management professor at M.I.T., described as “the productivity paradox” of information technology, in which there is a delay between adopting a new technology and experiencing the benefits from it. This is a reality to some extent, so patience can be helpful -- as long as you're not waiting for a gain that is never going to happen.
  4. As we shared in this post, you are not setting yourself up for success if you make huge investments in hardware. We recommend investing in software (which can be updated, and is generally the lowest portion of costs) rather than hardware which gets obsolete quickly. Use the equipment you already have, the spaces already available to you, and just start. 

 

One way to deal with poor technology at work is by bringing the tools that work for you, on your own phone / device: Bring Your Own Device (BYOD.) The challenge here is whether you'll run afoul of HIPAA. Click below to learn easy ways to stay secure. 

 

iClickCare IS BYOD Secure

Tags: telemedicine, telehealth, EHR, EMR, telemedicine technology, managed care

Innovation, like Telemedicine, Doesn't Have to be Fancy.

Posted by Lawrence Kerr on Tue, Jan 13, 2015 @ 07:30 AM

innovation
When we talk about innovation, what comes to mind?

For most people, "innovation" tends to be synonymous with the next new thing in technology. A designer drug, high-tech diagnostic equipment, or one of Apple's newest creations.

But what about the humbler kinds of innovation that are being advanced by medical providers day in and day out? For instance, a couple of years back, Dr. Sundari Periasamy identified 10-year-old Alaijah Borden's problem with her weight and did something both simple and progressive: she prescribed her fruits and vegetables in a program that made it easier to access and prepare the foods. Part of a pilot project, Alaijah and her family got nutritional education, recipes, and "health bucks" they could spend at farmers' markets.

After one year, Alaijah lost 5 pounds; a year after that, she lost an additional 8. Her mom started eating healthier too. Now, on the way to and from school, Alaijah munches on carrot sticks and fruit, rather than the cakes and cookies she used to stop off for. The Borden family is not alone. Of the 1200 families that participated, 97% of children ate more fruits and vegetables and after just 4 months, 40% of kids lowered their BMI.

So, no, the program is not the most sophisticated, the most complex, or the most newsworthy, probably. But it is innovative, in that it takes a complex problem and creates an effective solution.

So many times, we describe iClickCare to someone and, once they understand how telemedicine works and medical collaboration happens, it seems kind of obvious to them. They don't say "Wow! You must be a genius to think of that," they say "Huh. That makes a lot of sense.  People are probably doing that already." For us, iClickCare certainly is innovative, but so many other projects, big and small are, too. In fact, in so many ways, the most useful innovation means: 
  1. Solving a real problem. Kids, especially lower-income kids with weight issues. are not a flashy topic. But it is a real problem, affecting the lives and healths of millions. The problems we solve with medical collaboration and telemedicine are often similar. Perhaps it's a growth that could be cancerous, a gait that seems off, or the final stages of cleft palate surgery. None would make the news for uniqueness but all are crucial for the patient. 
  2. Using a solution that makes sense for the context. In the case of Alaijah, her weight solution had to take into account that finding and preparing fruits and vegetables is not an insignificant barrier. Had the doctor lectured the family about the problem, explained the issue at the molecular level, or even prescribed medication, it's very likely the little girl wouldn't have made any progress. But, like a simple software solution that can work on any hardware, Dr. Sundari's solution took the context into account.
  3. Working with people, not around them. Perhaps the most crucial element of an innovation is that it works with people to create solutions, instead of conceiving of a novelty and then trying to "get" people to adopt it. Just as in leadership, it's crucial for innovation to work with and for people, not trampling them for the sake of progress. 

 

For more stories of medical collaboration and medical innovation, click here: 

 

ClickCare Quick Guide to Medical Collaboration

Tags: telemedicine, medical collaboration software, telemedicine technology

Subscribe By Email

Recent Posts

Posts by Topic

see all