2022 and 2023 were tumultuous years for U.S. healthcare. The fallout from the coronavirus pandemic has had a much longer and far-reaching impact than anyone expected. From supply chains to revenue cycles to the workforce, scarcity and scarcity are both at the forefront.
Even in healthcare technology, from IT departments to vendor environments, we have strayed far from our foundations, and for good reason. When the pandemic hit, we had to be cautious, agile and innovative. As we mobilized to open our doors, protect frontline staff, and keep our communities afloat during a global pandemic, our consideration for standards, policies, and often price tags were set aside. I did. Are there any apps that can help distribute vaccines effectively? Let’s do it. Do you need a fairly complex and cumbersome integration with your electronic health record (EHR) system? No problem. Please make it work. Need to extend your network to a tent in a parking lot? Buy whatever equipment you can get your hands on. Even if it doesn’t fit into our network architecture, it will work fine. Need to improve communication with your hybrid workforce, but haven’t yet deployed the full capabilities of your existing productivity tools? Buy another app to do it once and for all today. Need to get your telehealth service up and running, but your existing system’s workflow won’t work in pandemic operating conditions? Purchase a second or third product to do telehealth outside of your established system To do. and so on.
While the immediate threat may have eased since then, our ways of working and approaches have not returned to pre-pandemic norms. in fact, I would argue that these norms have been shattered and will likely never return.100% same as office/onsite IT employee. This caused heartburn throughout the medical industry. One need only look at the headlines of the past two years to see that the fundamental functions of our very institutions are currently at risk. Human resources (labor shortages, retention, labor communication), finance (collections, bad debts, case mix index), operations (supply chain, gig workers, quality). This is not a very good picture, but it may be a great opportunity for us to change as an industry. Previous Forbes Magazine article “ Is medicine reaching the end of the Middle Ages?.
And what does this mean for healthcare technology? I think it’s time to start laying the foundations. We collect disparate, distributed, and overlapping parts of the technology landscape and integrate and streamline them. This includes a new focus on EHR optimization, but also the entire system/service catalog, networking architecture, cybersecurity program, and partner inventory. Key technologies and sub-features such as telemedicine and patient engagement will also be streamlined with a focus on where Gen Z and Millennial expectations are heading.
Why do we believe this? Because technology has made great strides since 2020, especially in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), as well as products on the market. More specifically, generative AI has penetrated our society and industry in a way that few previous innovations have. But to make the most of this for the elusive digital transformation we all seek, we need to have the underlying technology environment in place.
Another reason there is likely to be a focus on foundations is because our organizations are becoming more mature and our executives are becoming more technologically literate. And finally, because I can’t help it anymore.
I don’t think it’s just me.
- Daniel Balki (CIO, CommonSpirit Health), said in an interview with Becker’s Healthcare in November. We don’t want more technology in every situation. Our goal is: What are the best tools we can give caregivers to best meet their patients’ needs? It could mean better data, it could mean better integration of the tools we have. It could be simplifying the tools we have and optimizing them for what we need. ”
- Dr. Sachin Jain (SCAN Group CEO)In a May Forbes article titled, Coming to terms with widespread fraud in the healthcare industry “We have allowed fraud to become the norm,” he said, “because the healthcare industry is so busy. Pilots fail to scale and fade into oblivion. It’s a perpetuation of broken care processes.” A window dressing. Single market results have been adjusted to represent company-wide performance that is far from repeatable. Reversion to the mean is sold as evidence of impact.”
- BJ Moore (CIO, Providence)said in an October WSJ interview. In this case, without a strong foundation, the organization will likely not be able to create technological advancements and innovations. ”
Trends in the startup and venture capital world also indicate a slowdown in 2023 compared to the previous three years. Funding in the first half of this year was the lowest since 2019-2020. Additionally, many well-known startups have closed their doors or sold assets, including Pear Therapeutics and Babylon Health.
Again, I personally believe that the lack of interest (compared to 2020-2021) from healthcare organizations spending time and money on the shiny objects of digital health means that in 2023 We attribute this to the extreme financial strain experienced and the “fundamental financial strain” on provider organizations. As BJ says, there are unmet “needs” in IT.
But looking to the future, not all is doom and gloom. The healthcare industry, and healthcare provider organizations in particular, have done some soul-searching and made honest attempts to get back to basics in a variety of ways. Operating profit margins for healthcare systems nationwide are beginning to stabilize (kaufman hallA lot of it is helping organizations eliminate wishlists and minimize expenses while doubling down on core strengths and optimizing must-/can’t-fail processes across backbone functions like treasury, treasury, treasury, etc. was driven by a focus on HR and IT.
2023 will also see several new players enter the provider space, through mergers and acquisitions, or the creation of entirely new organizations in partnership with VCs and commercial companies, and new forms of competitive landscape emerge. started. This, too, should prompt existing health systems to focus on strengthening their core in the year ahead.
The 15th century priest and writer Thomas a Kempis once wrote:The taller the building, the deeper the foundation must be built.”
There is no nobler purpose than protecting human life. Therefore, we need to strengthen the foundations of healthcare, an industry dedicated to such a noble purpose. And I believe 2024 will be the year we do this in earnest.
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