By: Abe Kasbo
The proliferation of digital technologies in healthcare is truly breathtaking. From apps to wearables to remote monitoring of patients, and digitizing the hospital and physician environments, healthcare IT continues to be the darling of investors and the media alike. Apple, Facebook, Nike, and Mayo Clinic and others have been telling us about the amazing promise of digital health. It’s mesmorizing enough to attract billions of dollars of investment. Yet, while the technology may prove transformative, it doesn’t seem to interface well with the most important technology of all, human technology. Anecdotally, adoption of healthcare IT among patients is fairly low. The US government is providing incentives for physicians to digitize their offices, and that seems to be doing better recently from what I have been reading. Institutionally, hospitals are moving as fast they can because they can see the payoff: cost savings and efficiency.
Humans are creatures of habit, and getting them to change their behavior is a challenge on the best of days. What seems to be missing from patient facing technologies, is the priming of the human brain to accept and use digital tools regularly in order to achieve the desired outcomes. Institutional Healthcare IT, from a patient perspective, seems to suffer from fragmentation. From a patient perspective, there are many systems to deal with; how can patients register, let alone comply? The same goes for healthcare and medical apps, so many apps, so little time.
Healthcare IT needs to clearly convey a pay-off for the user. Remember at the dawn of the internet, banks launched television commercials showing people the benefits of online banking. Healthcare IT ought to consider doing the same. The payoff to the Healthcare IT industry would come in cost reduction and a healthier populous, if the IT part keeps its promise of course. Just because the technology is there doesn’t mean people will value it or use it.
Investors and customers alike should ask their partners about the specifics of how the technology will be rolled out from a communications perspective. After all no one wants to invest in vestigial technology, just to say they invested in technology. It’s not enough to implement Healthcare IT, the payoff for everyone is when it is valued and used appropriately. That can only happen if Healthcare IT programs marry themselves to strategic communications programs that will deliver the message efficiently and unlock real value.