Healthcare is entering into a time of incredible change. This change comes from the need to modernize the practice of medicine, to align the interests of all of the entities involved, to create an actual coordinated system of care and, of course, to change the disastrous financial course healthcare is on.
But you knew all of that.
What you might not have realized is all the implications of these changes.
There’s lots of talk about EHR implementation spurred by meaningful use and the great potential of ACOs to change the way healthcare operates. Much attention is paid to hospital-physician relations, physician employment, hospital mergers and clinical integration.
But where is the patient in all of this?
Patients are not just an input and output of the healthcare system — at least, not if we hope to make the changes underway meaningful. Care organizations will need to communicate differently with patients. They’ll need to understand our current set of interactions between patient and care provider – the intermittent phone calls, office visits and the occasional mailing – aren’t the result of the way we provide care, they’re the reason the healthcare system functions (or fails to function) as it does today. Changing care delivery requires us to change our communications. New methods of communication are enabling the process behind new care models.
This is what patient portals are truly about. The net goal isn’t to let patients request appointments (they can do that today) or get their lab results (which they’ll get two days later in the mail). Organizations that are excited about this technology have that enthusiasm because they see the low-cost secure communications between the patient and the care providers are at the heart of where healthcare is going.
Look at the internet as a model. Deploying the technology backbone, the high bandwidth connections crisscrossing the country which connected telecom providers to one another, was relatively cheap and easy. The hard part, known as the last mile, was getting connectivity from those telecom providers to every house, office and factory.
What we have now is the last mile problem in healthcare. Sure we have a plan to get the hospitals, doctors and insurers connected, but none of that matters until we connect every patient into the system. That’s the role of patient portals.
That’s why it’s my pleasure to share Geonetric’s new white paper, The Future Of Healthcare Delivery, that provides a roadmap for the patient-facing technologies your hospital will need to succeed in the new world of healthcare.