We’ve all shopped online enough to know the drill: navigate to a site, register for an account, enter your credit card, and you’re good to go; returning time and again to make purchases with merely a few clicks or taps. And as we shop, the site learns more about us, our background, and our preferences; to the point of suggesting (often accurately) additional items we might like to purchase that we weren’t even thinking about or aware of.
Such “customer experiences” have set our collective expectations for all manner of consumer interactions – they should be easy and efficient, and suit our needs, especially when enabled by technology.
And then there’s healthcare. As patients, we are often asked to repeat the same information time and time again: personal details, past health problems, treatments we’ve tried, our medications, and our other conditions. It’s also not uncommon to have to update different members of your care team who are not in the loop on your care journey so far.
For decades, this wastefully redundant process – and many, many others – were begrudgingly tolerated because it was the way healthcare worked; one provider wasn’t much different from the other. We even accept waiting weeks or months for an appointment or a procedure because we have lived with healthcare’s administrative inefficiency and fragmentation all our lives.
One is left to wonder: Why is it that healthcare – surely one of the most technology intensive industries in the world – can’t give us a better “customer experience”?
It’s surely not for lack of computerization. Physicians spent 125 million hours on electronic health records (EHR) systems outside of office hours in 2019 alone. These massive repositories of patient and payer data can help traditional healthcare organizations deliver better care, service, and financial performance in an increasingly competitive, personalized, and decentralized industry.
Regardless of its abundance, passive data alone is not enough. What is needed is powerful, intelligent automation across the EHR with an agility layer that unites disparate units, facilities, providers, and staff across a personalized care journey. The result is the ability to drive action without burdening staff, and in one health system this reduced charting time from eleven minutes to two minutes per patient case.
This type of automated care orchestration involves more than streamlining disparate manual tasks. Rather, it aligns all the activities, workflows, and events across the care journey so one automated task supports the next instead of being completed in isolation with no contextual awareness. Smart automation anticipates unique patient and service complexities that could cause care delays and then minimizes the care team’s technology burden of navigating and documenting care. Instead of chasing missing information and ‘putting out fires’, care teams can follow a proactive process, enabled by technology, that anticipates their needs based on real-time data and evidence with relevant and readable documentation support to accelerate the journey through the final care delivery and payment steps.
Transitioning from fragmented care to orchestrated care is an investment in the future, and not just because it offers a competitive advantage in a changing market and leads to better care. Rather, younger patients and providers, and subsequent generations will expect automation and the data they need when they need it because it is the world they have grown up in. Unlike previous generations, their expectations and behaviors won’t change, nor will they tolerate such dysfunctional processes. Enabling better-orchestrated care now will support the next generation of stakeholders and set the health system up for long-term success.
[This blog post is adapted from an article by John Glaser published in Healthcare Innovation.]