Healthcare Needs The Internet

Our healthcare workers have achieved incredible feats and demonstrated heroism over the course of the pandemic. At the same time, the added load is calling even more attention to the lack of true innovation healthcare has received to address the disparate backend systems that lead to massive inefficiencies, as evidenced by the continued need for patients to fill out old school forms after being handed a clipboard. The healthcare industry is critical to the well-being of humans and it is in dire need of tech transformation.

I recently spoke to Shoshana Deutschkron, chief marketing officer at Olive, a healthcare company that’s automating the massive amounts of administrative tasks and connecting the siloed backend systems that bog down the industry. Olive is changing that by revolutionizing how healthcare information is shared, deployed and optimized, ultimately aiming to create a better health experience for humans.

Deutschkron shared insights from Olive’s recent Internet of Healthcare Report, which reveals how 1,700 patients, healthcare professionals, administrative staff and executives view the current healthcare system and its impact on their experience.

Gary Drenik: How do patients feel about their healthcare experience?

Shoshana Deutschkron: Technology has completely transformed the customer experience in nearly every industry, except healthcare, where patients continue to get the same clipboard almost every time they walk into an appointment. In an industry where innovation can mean the difference between life and death, it’s amazing what we still cope with. The deluge of data and disjoints between our repositories of it has only grown and is placing an enormous administrative burden on the humans in healthcare at a time when they’re also more burned out than ever.

Olive’s Internet of Healthcare Report (IoH Report) found that patients are tired of the many symptoms they experience due to the lack of healthcare connectivity, such as having to repeat information to their provider (55%), notify healthcare professionals about their medications because the clinician can’t access the data (40%), and dealing with delays in treatment approvals due to insurance review processes (51%).

The Internet of Healthcare report found that 57% of patients agree that having their medical history easily accessible to any healthcare provider they see would do the most to improve their health outcomes. And a recent Prosper Insights & Analytics survey found that nearly half (48%) of consumers prefer to see their family doctor for a non-life-threatening illness, such as a cold, the flu or allergies. Shared information across providers empowers all in healthcare — from the providers themselves to the patients — to ensure consistent, informed care.

Drenik: The past year has called attention to some inefficiencies in our healthcare system. From this point forward, where do you see the biggest opportunities for healthcare to lead other industries in innovation and technology?

Deutschkron: For nearly two years now, the pandemic has forced virtually every single industry to think outside the box. Healthcare organizations have had to quickly pivot the way they provide care to patients in an attempt to manage their bed capacity and bottom lines, especially with waves of Covid-19 patients to care for. Healthcare technology companies went into overdrive to connect hospitals and health systems with new solutions — for example, Olive created vaccine registration automation processes and we’ve seen many providers start to offer more telehealth services. Twenty-nine percent of consumers surveyed in a recent Prosper Insights & Analytics survey used a telemedicine service during the pandemic.

Vaccine registration automation and telemedicine are the tips of the iceberg — we’re seeing accelerating innovation across all areas of healthcare. While the industry has historically lagged in using AI and automation, nearly 8 in 10 healthcare executives believe that it will soon lead. The Internet of Healthcare Report found that within the next five years, clinicians predict US healthcare will have widely adapted AI-led advancements, including fully automated data entry (58%), patient access to medical records from anywhere (56%), and virtual visits overtaking in-person (52%).

Drenik: Healthcare professionals are overworked and overtired. How do you see automation in healthcare helping to change that?

Deutschkron: The humans in healthcare are burned out. They were already burdened by antiquated tech — what other industry still commonly uses not only clipboards but also fax machines?! We have been using humans, many capable of providing high-level treatment to those in need, for hours of administrative work, essentially as human routers rather than having technology provide the connectivity to route information and draw insights from it. And of course, the pandemic is a huge exacerbation.  

Healthcare’s administrative workers are swimming in data. The Internet of Healthcare Report found that half of administrative staff saw an increase in the amount of manual data entry in the past 12 months — and 92% of clinicians agree that too much time spent on administrative tasks is a major contributor to healthcare workers burning out. The humans in healthcare themselves recognize that a major hiring push isn’t the answer, with 64% of healthcare executives agreeing that there will never be enough staff to handle the volume of patient and member data at their organizations.

Simply put, it’s not humanly possible to keep up with the demands placed on the humans in healthcare.

Automation has enormous potential to free healthcare staff from spending their days on arduous tasks and give them time to reinvest in higher-impact efforts for patients.

Drenik: Like so many industries, the healthcare industry is dealing with a tidal wave of workers quitting their jobs. How can we keep motivating and supporting our healthcare heroes?

Deutschkron: Over the past year, we’ve seen health systems offer our healthcare heroes additional compensation, signing bonuses and referral bonuses to attract, retain, and show their appreciation.

We need to do more than throw money at the problem. I always look for source causes and how to address them. Hiring, money, and other gestures are patches. The source cause here is the lack of empowering humans with high-functioning technology that optimizes their time. Depleting bandwidth with task work that could be handled for humans is the opposite of supportive. The situation is so dire that healthcare professionals themselves are clearly proponents of automation, a finding that was somewhat surprising to me given that history has shown waves of concern around automation due to associated fears for jobs. Results are very much to the contrary though. The report found that 93% of healthcare professionals and 78% of administrative staff agree that AI will actually be good for their careers.

Time is precious and healthcare executives estimate that their staff could get back 90 minutes a day to spend with patients if they automated burdensome, mundane processes. To not recognize and address the source cause — a need for technology that optimizes human time — could make the great resignation even worse. Nearly half (49%) of C-level healthcare executives expressed fears that employee turnover will be the most likely consequence if their organization does not automate in the next one to two years.

Drenik: How can technologies like AI and automation help improve patient care?

Deutschkron: Prior authorization processes are the most time-consuming and costly administrative process in healthcare. These processes are conducted by outdated, archaic technologies — including fax machines, endless phone calls and overwhelming stacks of paper. Among healthcare executives surveyed for the Internet of Healthcare Report, 42% said that AI would most benefit prior authorizations.

Another place we see AI’s potential is improving a patient’s diagnosis. Misdiagnosis can be a patient’s worst nightmare, delaying the care they need or giving them care they might not. Forty percent of clinicians believe that AI will decrease the risk of incorrect patient diagnoses.

Healthcare deserves true innovation that connects all its disconnected systems and provides unparalleled intelligence for today’s unprecedented demands. Just recently, I went into my own doctor’s office and, after years of being their patient, had to fill out the same forms — again. They’d purchased a new system that had promised connectivity and failed to deliver it. Many of my critical details were at risk of being forgotten. The transcriptionist stood in the corner patching information together. None of this gave us confidence in any of our roles. There is a better way. There has to be. Our well-being depends on it.

Drenik: Thank you, Shoshana, for your time discussing why healthcare needs the internet. These findings are very insightful as we look toward 2022 and beyond.


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