Healthcare providers tend to feel like they're being pulled in five directions at once.
We're supposed to improve patient satisfaction, use the new EMR/EHR more meaningfully (read: spend more time on the computer), connect deeply with each patient, and increase productivity.
No wonder most of us are burnt out.
Similarly, there are two dramatic trends that are pulling in opposite directions for healthcare -- and unless they use tools to reconcile them, providers are the ones who will feel, even more, torn apart.
I came across an article recently -- published by the consulting megalith McKinsey -- looking at how industries are beginning to change shape. The future, the article argues, will be made up of industries without borders, in which sectors and company lines become more fluid, and the organizations that collaborate best, win.
I don't naturally apply learning from the business world directly to medicine because I believe medicine is unique. It's not an "industry" in the real sense of the word. It's an art, a calling, a science.
But the business world is often the first to identify trends, as their profit motive drives them to identify changes before they are blindsided by them. And the changes predicted in the McKinsey piece seem to herald changes that are very much afoot in medicine as well.
The general idea is that moving forward, organizations will need to collaborate more with each other, share data, and rethink how they draw the lines around what they do.
Current examples of this happening are like Amazon (sells consumer goods, providers digital content, and does logistics -- all in one company) or Apple. McKinsey argues that these blurry lines are just the beginning of what's to come. These shifts are in the works for a few reasons:
- Technology makes it easier for communication to happen.
- Customer (or patient) expectations have shifted. In the past, it was acceptable to tell a patient that you had no way to see their chart from another provider. In the future, this will become untenable.
- Regulatory shifts demand it. In medicine, shifts away from fee-for-service models mean that we can no longer just provide our narrow service and expect to survive. We're expected to manage costs, readmissions, length of stay, and ultimate outcomes from the work we do.
McKinsey says, "As the approaching contest plays out, we believe an increasing number of industries will converge under newer, broader, and more dynamic alignments: digital ecosystems... This new environment will play out by new rules, require different capabilities, and rely to an extraordinary extent upon data."
I believe that we will see a similar dynamic in medicine moving forward. The lines among functions, sectors, and hospital systems are blurring. That's why we see this demand for coordination. We're no longer in a fee-for-service world. Instead, care coordination is explicitly our job, we're held responsible for outcomes and results, and the teams we work on are becoming broader and more complex.
But hospital systems and healthcare providers are not equipped to handle these dynamics. In fact, healthcare has spent the last 20 years moving in the exact opposite direction. We've seen huge consolidation, in which insurance companies become more powerful, hospital systems grow larger, and the siloes we work in become evermore separate. We're asked to become piecework laborers, keeping our head down and performing the task for which we are specialized.
It is more necessary than ever to collaborate and coordinate care but it is also harder than ever because we are separated in the work that we do. That's why healthcare providers feel so torn and overworked; they are being tugged by both of these forces simultaneously.
We believe that the only resolution of this dynamic is to use tools, like iClickCare to collaborate and communicate within the current medical structure. The demands on you to do healthcare collaboration (HIPAA securely of course) are only going to increase as the lines, among organizations and sectors within medicine, blur. But you won't necessarily be given the tools to do those things. That's why iClickCare is available at the enterprise level or at the individual level -- we believe that in any given organization, it may be the administration or it may be the individual providers that truly chart the course forward amidst these competing demands.
As Bill Gates is quoted as saying, "I’m a great believer that any tool that enhances communication has profound effects in terms of how people can learn from each other, and how they can achieve the kind of freedoms that they’re interested in.”
It's an exciting time, for sure -- but only if we're equipped with the proper tools.