Guest Blog by Todd Evenson, So…You’re tellin’​ me health tech doesn’t walk on water?

Spread the word!

News flash! Technology will NOT save healthcare.

In the immortal words of Gary Coleman, all my fellow technologists are sayin’, “What chew talkin’ bout Willis?”

Please consider my plea in the context of change and innovation healthcare.

Too often, I find today’s great technology thinkers espousing populist thought, agenda-driven rhetoric, and veiled attempts at compassionate understanding. To underscore our melancholic dirge of collective oratory, let me ask you…

What is the last healthcare article you read that began with, “In today’s ever-changing healthcare environment…?” AHCK! You know it’s just about all of them!

To provide empirical evidence of this, I queried and verified with our collective truth. Her name – Google. She found 374,000,000 results in .61 seconds. Dang? I didn’t know I could be that right? Surely Google must not have consulted my spouse…

Most disconcertingly, I can easily argue healthcare hasn’t changed at all. But, don’t take my word for it. Find your own truth by answering the following:

1)     Have healthcare costs continued to rise since 2009 when HITECH under ARRA was enacted?

2)  Have physicians found their new passion in life as the electronic health record’s Advanced Practice Data Entry Clerks (APDEC’s) Come on, you know it needed an acronym to be considered legitimate in healthcare or tech… wink wink.

3)     Can YOU go to any medical facility in the country and have your entire medical record available?

Survey says!!!

1)     No change here! Costs continue to go up.

2)     Same here! Physicians still gettin’ $hxt on.

3)     Indeed status quo! We all know data isn’t portable in healthcare. Thanks HIPAA. Hugs and kisses.

So, there you have it, healthcare hasn’t changed all that much. Thanks for playing. You get the blue ribbon for participation that everyone deserves…

Although much remains unchanged, there was one technology forecast to be our Savior. Electronic health records (EHRs or HERS as Microsoft Word likes to spell it) was it. And, they’ve had an indelible impact on all future technological advancements/change. How so?

Unfortunately, “The Great EHR Experiment” has been a wildly successful installation followed by an excruciatingly painful, endless implementation. Uncle… It hurts… I want my blankie…

In the past two decades, we’ve moved to nearly ubiquitous adoption of electronic health records – over 85.9% in 2017 according to HealthIT.gov. Regrettably, the imperfections of the ongoing execution of EHRv1.0 yielded technological aversion by physicians and healthcare organizations alike. The posthumous early innovators/technologists mostly succumbed to our healthcare collective’s group think. You know… The one that says, “Everything has to be in the EHR.” As such, we technologists became a victim of our own sorcery.

Technologists lacked the VOCABULARY necessary to ask the right healthcare questions. As such, our alchemy lacked the ingredients to create optimal solutions. Whilst our fingers were still caked in orange Cheetos dust, we all geeked out talkin’ about LAN, WLAN, Bits, Bytes, SQL, Boolean, and Reporting Requirements. This was extraterrestrial language to most healthcare leaders so we embarked on finding the nearest proxy to us – Healthcare CIOs. Ooooo Mufasa…

We knew we “kinda spoke” CIO dialect. So, we stood up like candidates on the great stage of the Democratic National Presidential Debate and declared, “I have an API and my App can seamlessly integrate with any EHR!”

This was the beginning of healthcare’s love affair – Innovation equals Technology.

That equation works about as well as the Iowa caucus’s ability to count. (Now, there’s a black eye for tech. Not to mention the dark art of shuffling people to corners of a room to count and recount. SMH.)

So, all ye prophets declaring, “Technology will save healthcare”, I humbly and respectfully submit, it will not.

Why? Because computers are morons…

I have evidence and take refuge looking into the past. How is that the Nostradamus-like, prophetic conjuring’s of Peter Drucker in 1967 (Yup. That’s right. 1967) could illustrate almost perfect 20/20 vision of today’s malaise.

Here’s the straight truth he was spittin’ back in the day:

https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/the-manager-and-the-moron

I found this lesson most compelling.

Technology must link, simplify, and regulate the throughput of our vast universe and immense collection of data constellations. Drucker explains, “a flood of informational stimuli makes us blind to it.”

So I leave you with following plea…

Technologist – Let your innovations strive for elegance and simplicity. Design environments that modulates our vast universe of information into playground for tech-enabled creativity.

Most of all, do this for one audience first… And this is crazy talk… But… Wait for it… Wait for it!

PHYSICIANS!!!

JJ says, “Boom goes the Dyn-O-Mite!”

Friends. There is a beautiful, needed space for technology in healthcare. It’s the one that takes ten tasks away from the docs – not just adds just another…

Our technology must elegantly disappear behind the curtain to support the most trusted human connections between a patient and a provider. If technology does that, I’ll gladly accept I was wrong…

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