Digital Solutions for 2020 – The Joys & the curse!

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So here we are, into the third decade of the 2000’s and we’re still without hover boards or time-travel cars!

Technology does however continue to make massive strides and impacts our daily lives on an ever-present fashion. How, for example, would I know how I slept if I didn’t have my Apple Watch telling me exactly the amount of deep sleep I had overnight. Or be able to set a timer without yelling at my personal assist Cortana, I mean Alexa, I mean Siri… oh I forget their name!

Yes, technology claims to enhance our lives or businesses, but how much of it has a tangible, positive impact?

As a healthcare business owner, manager, or decision maker you want technology to assist in an array of complex situations and scenarios. Whether it be greater patient care, efficiency creation, lowering your costs, better access to care, revenue growth or better patient communication, technology has claims to improve all of the above.

Family Doctor a growing GP owned non-corporate group recently held a tender for their technology provider to utilise across all of their (at the time of writing this) 19 medical clinics. According to Family Doctor’s Operations Manager, Jason Murphy “as a growing organisation we have many key stakeholders; doctors, patients, external providers, business owners. We need to show all of our stakeholders that we’re progressive, a provider of choice if you like. So choosing a technology provider that could deliver on our business objectives was critical.”

So what are the business critical aspects of running a healthcare practice that technology can assist with?

According to Michelle O’Brien of Integrated Healthcare, it’s “efficiency creation technology that can have an impact on running a healthcare practice.”

Looking at some of the ‘efficiency creation’ technology that’s currently available. Starting with the obvious: online bookings, automated appointment reminders, automated financial reports, electronic health records, self-service check in and clinical recalls & reminders via SMS. Digital Marketing is also a key ingredient in growing your patient base or introducing new services. For example, maybe you are a women’s health surgeon, and you need to advertise your laparoscopic hysterectomy services. Digital marketing is the single best way of getting your message out there about what you are offering.

The benefits are clear and speak to cost reduction via efficiency creation. Anecdotal evidence suggests some practices have been able to cut as much as 70% of front desk staffing costs.

Joy right? Sure, if you only look through that lense. With the introduction of multiple automated tasks and touch points with practices, it introduces one major risk; patient data.

As we have seen in recent times in media publications, patient data isn’t as secure as you might think. As a healthcare clinic, one of the very first questions you should ask your tech solutions is “What’s your policy on patient data, and what measures do you take to keep it safe?” At some point in time you’ll potentially find yourself in complete panic mode after you find out your data has either been breached or shared without your knowledge. Curse!

What about customer service? Friendliness is so important, and that certainly extends to the coalface of any healthcare practice, being the front desk. Having experienced this role first-hand, the pressures on the front desk is immense.

So, does efficiency creating technology, that reduces front desk staff workload, take away from the ‘human touch’, or does it encourage and foster more meaningful human interaction with a (relatively) less-stress front desk team? That’s an argument best saved for family lunches.

With technology constantly pushing boundaries, and at an ever-increasing pace, what should your take on it be in 2020? Technology, I like to believe, has a genesis for good. The problems any digital solution attempts to solve or diagnosis it tries to accurately attain are dreamt up and built for the vast majority in the best intention.

From my point of view, for 2020 I’d love to see a push/uptake/increased visibility on these five areas:

  1. Electronic Health Record (not the current government iteration)
  2. Telemedicine/telehealth/telepsych
  3. Remote monitoring tools
  4. Wearable technology
  5. Genome sequencing

What do you want to see from digital technology in 2020?

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