Digital Healthcare Enables Your Patients for Better Health Outcomes
Digital this, digital that, digital everything has been a business requirement of IT leaders for decades. Many IT workers under 40 do not know any other way to deliver organization outcomes. This also means that your customers are digital too, or what some people refer to as digital natives. As the digital natives replace your analog customers and the crossover generation, mostly Gen X, everything not digital becomes a customer retention risk. The risk is real and is at the arc of the impact curve, which means if your organization relies on customers over 40 to generate more than 50% of your revenue, by the end of this decade your organization will fade away too.
There are of course digital exceptions such as vinyl record albums, printed books, etc., however they are exceptions and note that even the exceptions require digital support to exist e.g., buying your book or album online for instance. Unfortunately, there are other exceptions that perhaps should not be. For example, many small medical practices still use paper records to track patients. Medical insurance companies accept facsimile medical claims. Yes, small medical practitioners still fax a request for payment. And, if a patient transfers to another doctor, they must pick up the paper printouts and carry them to their new doctor. All of this is to say, in cases where the organization does not adapt to customer needs because they do not have to, such as medical care, digital everything does not always exist, at least not at the levels it should in 2023.
Delays in digital adoption within the medical services field has created the opportunities for truly digital organizations such as Amazon to step in, take a measurable market share from small medical practices, and delver the digital experience many customers demand today. Whether through online prescriptions delivered to your door, or telehealth first doctor visits, digital support for healthcare has arrived because consumers a.k.a. patients expect it.
The growing shift toward digital healthcare is causing small medical practices to close because they waited too long to try to compete so the changes in systems, processes, and ways of doing business are simply too big to manage. The practices that have a chance to compete are those that minimally adapted to Electronic Medical Records (EMR) or Electronic Health Records (EHR) systems. Why did this cornerstone action move these practices from out-of-business-soon into a real chance to thrive? The realization that future patients would demand digital first helped those practices not only implement EMR or EHR systems, it also created a path for new or different services such as self-service scheduling, phone app connectivity, text reminders, and other digital engagement opportunities to provide overall better health outcomes. Providers that did not make the digital shift are literally stuck in the last century where the only patient contact option is an office visit, which provides a point-in-time data element about their patients’ health today.
Reading the descriptions above including words such as digital shift, digital engagement, and self-service all seem natural to you and to me. That is because we live, learn, and thrive in the digital world that has emerged since Mapquest, AOL, and Netscape were new. However, this is not the world doctors inhabit, and I am not sure they should. Yes, doctors need practice managers or professional partners such as iT1 that can help their practice evolve to meet patient demands and understand the power of digital tools. However, doctors might better serve patients by spending their time learning about the latest medicines or a new surgical system, rather than worrying about digital first. There lies the digital truth; by investing in EMR or EHR or other digital medicine enablers, doctors can free time to learn about new medical advances, see more patients, or spend more time with the patients they have today. Thus, digital healthcare not only serves the patient, it serves the practitioner too.
If you’re looking for IT solutions, contact our healthcare team to learn more about our healthcare IT solutions.
Dr. Mike Lewis serves as Chief Information Officer, EVP of Informatics, Security & Technology for Trillium Health Resources, a managed-care organization serving more than 350,000 members in North Carolina. He earned his Doctor of Management degree from George Fox University and is a former MBA adjunct professor at Maryhurst University. Mike has worked in the IT field for more than 25 years with stints at IBM, Merisel, and Dell.
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