1 posts from August 2011


Thoughts on the health delivery system

As I navigate the gleaming halls of the clinic, I comfort myself with the statistics; I am here at a medical facility that is world-renowned. The physicians and researchers assembled here represent some of the greatest minds in medicine. Like me, many others have traveled hundreds of miles to benefit from their professional knowledge. Despite my anxiety over the complicated and previously misdiagnosed illness that has troubled me for several months, the mantra soothes me. I settle myself into a chair opposite the distinguished specialist I have traveled to see and prepare to gain insight into my condition. However, over the next hour, the exchange of information that takes place is quite different than I expected. The physician has my files in front of him, but does not seem to have a holistic picture of my symptoms and treatments thus far. Working from my careful notes I begin to fill in the missing pieces for him, carefully detailing the tests I have endured thus far and explaining my understanding of their results.


The specialist listens carefully, making notes of his own, and using his unique expertise begins to put together a plan that will eventually lead to a firm diagnosis and a highly successful outcome for me. As a patient, I cannot ask for more, but as a professional in the field of customer relationship management and information technology, I cannot help but question the beleaguered process that has led to this outcome. Without my informed input, how much longer would it have taken to arrive at a diagnosis? How many unnecessary tests would have been performed?


In the current system who really owns the patient relationship? Who is responsible for actionable diagnosis and treatment? Who is focused on outcome throughout the patient’s life? Which doctor is truly my quarterback, my continuous advocate who helps me navigate the complexities of inpatient, outpatient, diagnostics, post discharge care, physical therapy, pharmacology, and more? What is the insurance company’s role in all of this as the payer?


Businesses in other industries cannot survive with a business model that relies on disparate information systems and so little collaboration among key providers in the distribution chain.
The evidence shows that I represent the new face of the healthcare consumer. Informed, engaged and expecting a world class service standard similar or superior to that which I have experienced in other industries. Relying solely on the intuitive knowledge and experience of a physician is not the best business model. This is after all my most important and personal asset… health.


A myriad of complex changes continue to impact this industry, creating flux and confusion, but also golden opportunities to improve an outdated system. In a society where consumers have access to more information than ever before, and are increasingly accustomed to taking a proactive approach as customers, the business model that has rewarded volume of services over outcomes is on its way to obsolescence. The aura of mystery that has shrouded the medical community is eroding. Educated and informed consumers drive a demand for a new health delivery system that must be more accessible and collaborative than ever before.