Guest post by Barbara Casey, Senior Executive Director for Healthcare Business Transformation at Cisco.
Imagine taking your car in for a routine service, only to be told you’ll need to visit five or six more garages on your own to procure an accurate assessment and treatment of the problem(s). In our current healthcare climate, this disconnected and complicated process is what most patients experience in assessing and treating their health conditions. Many of the most compromised patients, those that are elderly, co-morbid or chronically ill, are alone in their experience, left to connect the dots from cardiologist to radiologist to primary care. Layer in the emotional experience of, for example, being told you have stage four cancer and it’s difficult to focus on, let alone remember, what the oncologist or surgeon says to do next. Yet, the onus falls solely on the patient, family member or caregiver to create continuity in the care experience.
So, as healthcare professionals, how do we help patients navigate the continuum of care when they are seeing an array of physicians and specialists in currently disconnected care settings? We need to treat the patient more like a true customer, which means upgrading the tools and methods we use to interact with them to be more intuitive and user-friendly so we touch base with them on a more regular basis.
Take for example the retail industry—Amazon and Netflix invest in complex algorithms to understand us better as individuals. As online businesses, they have enough information to recommend the next Father’s Day gift or determine if we prefer science fiction to drama. Can we apply that same logic to healthcare? Wouldn’t you want your own doctor and healthcare network to know you as well as Amazon does—for example, the medications you take, what you’re allergic to and the surgeries you’ve had—so they can recommend what you need to do next to advance your health and wellbeing?
It’s our obligation as technology experts and partners to those in the healthcare industry to find the answers and provide patients guidance in what they need before they need it. So in the end, patients can make the choice about how to approach their health can make the choice. After all, where else would you want to be known more intimately as an individual than in your own healthcare network?
mHealth, video and collaboration tools offer an opportunity to create a true continuum of care and a more seamless patient experience. Communication tools which integrate voice, video and data can also help deliver healthcare more effectively and efficiently. If these mechanisms are in place, the patient is more in control of where, when and how to communicate with care providers. She has the choice of how she wants to connect and communicate with her caregiver—the only question is will it be live in a doctor’s office, via video from her home living room, from a desk chair at the office, or from the path where she’s fulfilling a lifelong goal to hike the Appalachian Trail?