In healthcare, we constantly seek new ways to deliver and improve care. Countless ideas have already been tried and tested, and people often think that coming up with the next great innovation requires thinking ‘outside of the box.’ This notion has been instilled in most of us from a young age, and those in all industries – not just healthcare – often strive to show their creativity through this approach. However, in my experience, thinking outside of the box doesn’t always lead to the best new ideas. Sometimes, we need to focus on thinking better inside the box.
At first glance, one might think that healthcare is a female-dominated industry. After all, women make up 80 percent of healthcare workers. However, the truth is not so simple. In 2014, only 40 percent of executive roles in healthcare were held by women. Complicating this even further is the fact that on the business-to-business (B2B) side – particularly in newer industry sectors like healthcare IT – women are still finding their footing in leading roles.
Even as more women take on leadership roles today, old ways of thinking still remain. Since healthcare IT is a newer industry, we still have some ground to make up. Perhaps we should start by first acknowledging that an issue exists before we can successfully address it.
Healthcare is constantly evolving, and healthcare IT in particular is undergoing more change now than at any other point in history. Health systems trying to ‘ride the wave’ of change may often feel like they are implementing updates, only to face a new regulation, technology, or best suggested practice that shakes up the process yet again. While it is challenging to stay current, health systems looking to stay relevant need to constantly re-evaluate their processes and whether they are as efficient as possible. While these organizations can’t always predict what comes next, the triple aim of reducing costs, improving outcomes, and enhancing patient satisfaction, provides a solid framework for thinking ahead.
So how do you know where you are on the healthcare wave?
Any market that experiences a boom of innovation and creates transformative start-ups has a typical lifecycle. It often starts with deregulation, followed by start-ups popping up and creating a market of many competitors with novel but often similar products who find short-term success. At some point, however, the competition becomes too fierce, and not everyone can survive. Some business strategies, products, and operations will find long-term success, while others will not.
This week, I had the privilege to present at the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade Hearing that took place in Washington, DC. As part of the “Disrupter Series: Health Care Apps” hearing, leaders in the healthcare industry discussed how mobile applications are disrupting the ways in which doctors and patients engage in the health care system and impact the affordability, accessibility, and delivery of care.
In a variety of recent private and panel discussions with health and policy leaders, I’ve heard encouraging talk around interoperability through open and available application programming interfaces (APIs). Public comments by Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt indicate there is sincere commitment to making this a reality.
While this momentum seems promising, when Meaningful Use Stage 3 is mentioned – particularly its requirements for making data available to patient facing applications – I see the potential for unintended and terrible consequences for clinician workflows.
In May, The Joint Commission announced that it was changing its five-year-old ban on texting, stating that effective immediately health care organizations may now allow orders to be transmitted via text message.
The topic of ‘secure messaging’ has long been a polarizing topic within the health care industry. Some industry veterans are against it – they question whether this method of communication truly can be secure. Others believe that allowing physicians to issue orders via text messaging is just a matter of time, as there are great tools now available that are HIPAA compliant and provide the security and audit trail needed to make this workflow improvement. I am in the latter group.