When healthcare gets very personal

DougEvansThe following is a guest post by Doug Evans. Doug has years of experience leading marketing teams across diverse industries and especially in technology companies, including startups. He lives in Dublin, Ohio, where he also enjoys a hobby working in marketing and PR for the music industry.

Just before the holidays, I went in for a minor medical procedure.  No biggie, just something to get taken care of – and what better time to recuperate than a time when work slows down, right?

My experience as a patient and customer of the healthcare industry has underscored the need for the industry to transform through the help of real-time visibility and communication.

Don’t you know who I am?

Upon arrival at the hospital, I was pleased to see all the paperwork was ready for me to review and sign.  Only problem was their system had me listed as a female.

We shared a chuckle, but in reality this is indicative of systems not talking to one another, and the introduction of simple human error to the equation.

Shouldn’t my record within the systems of my insurance company, doctor and hospital, all be based on the same, single source of data?  I mean, if a simple fat-finger data entry mistake can turn me into a woman…

Visions of sugarplums? More like scalpels!

As I was waiting for Santa to visit (actually, Mrs. Claus did all the work in our house this year!), some things just weren’t feeling “right”…  Did I pick up an infection?  Did I do something counter to the recovery instructions delivered while I was still in an anesthetic-haze?  And did I want to be THAT GUY, who shows up at the ER for something that’s just a typical post-op experience?

Since it was the Holidays, and my doctor was away and his office was closed, I waited until “normal business hours” to call to a nurse, receiving not much more than the reassuring message of, “No fever?  Good, we’ll see you next week…”

What I needed was a secure, direct line of communication with my care team – or even a supportive group of patients who had gone through my procedure.  To tell them confidentially what I was experiencing, and get their feedback in real time.  To get their educated advice, which I hoped would be not to worry.

Instead, my anxieties grew during this silent period, keeping me awake at night and keeping me from enjoying the festivities – and, I’m sure, keeping me from being enjoyable to be around.

So what did it cost?  No, really… what did it cost?

There’s a vigorous debate as to whether patients are the customer of healthcare.  My perspective is that we are ALL the customer of EVERYONE’S medical bills, because high costs for me indirectly mean high insurance rates for you.  So this part of my story should concern us all…

I’ve logged-on to my insurance company’s portal daily to check the status of claims.  And now, three weeks after my procedure, only a portion of the bills are visible, while others haven’t been fully processed, or even received.

Why is it that when I recently bought a new bed from a department store, I immediately received a text message from my bank alerting me of a purchase above my target spending limits, but I still can’t get a clear picture of the true cost of the procedure and how much I owe?

The Right Prescription for the Patient AND Customer – Real-Time Visibility and Communication

My experience – while thankfully minor compared to what many people have gone through – is typical.  And for too long we’ve accepted it as the norm.  It has reinforced in me the need for introducing a new level of visibility and communication into both the clinical and business sides of healthcare.

Working for a company that has transformed businesses and industries through technology, I know what’s possible when you connect systems, authenticate information, operationalize data and events, and establish a secure social collaboration network.

The healthcare industry is at the beginning of this transformation, and the most progressive healthcare organizations are tearing down the silos of data and taking action in real time in a way that allows them to influence outcomes, rather than report on them after they occur.

This is critical for two of the most important stakeholders in the equation: the patients and customers of healthcare.

As a patient, I need to know that I’m going to be OK.

As a customer, I expect – more like DEMAND – this in all other aspects of my life.  Remember that bed I bought?  I’ve received multiple texts and emails to schedule delivery, and to ensure I’m happy with my purchase.   That’s the kind of service we need in healthcare.

This article was first published on The TIBCO Blog and was lightly edited.



Categories: Healthcare, Process Management

Author:Doug Evans

Doug Evans is an accomplished marketing leader with wide-ranging experience in diverse business environments including non-profit, small private business, major national bank, and Silicon Valley software company. He has a knack for bringing together teams from across geography and organizational lines. He keeps active by playing and coaching soccer, and is also Marketing/PR Director for an acoustic music concert series in his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

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One Comment on “When healthcare gets very personal”

  1. January 12, 2013 at 9:04 pm #

    Doug, thanks for the great writeup. There is good news on the horizon as this PriceWaterhouse report goes through how technology changes the state of healthcare.


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