April 25, 2013

ACO, PCMH and All Healthcare Needs Simplification by Jim Bloedau

What can we expect when introducing digital technology to patients?  Rhonda Daniel, Sr. Manager of Market Research at CEA, summarizes their just released research on how consumers are using their smartphones and other digital devices.  Two things stand out:
  • That people rapidly get rid of their single use devices if they can aggregate the same functionality on to their smartphones.
  • That their initial usage tracks what their pre-purchase expectation were.
If you have already been part of the connected life style for a while and have developed comfort with the digital functionality you use daily being made mobile and on one device, then nothing new here. Now add an integrated glucometer, if you're diabetic, or blue tooth enabled scale, if you're obese or managing congestive heart failure, or a GPS tracking app to see how far you walk as you try to get healthier after a hip replacement or long hospitalization.  What we are doing is adding not only great functionality but elevated complexity to an already complex path to engaging in our health - is this any way to treat a customer? Accessing an analogue healthcare system, like a doctor's appointment, and then laying new and not so easy to use technology on top of it isn't simplifying healthcare for those who use it the most.  My call here is that we need to simplify the analogue side as we add complexity to the digital side. 

The early results from the Direct Primary Care (DPC) model where patient's pay a low monthly fee directly to a doctor and bypass the added complexity of payer involvement is suggesting this may be the right path to be explored.  Lower utilization and higher satisfaction with equal or better outcomes for both the doctor and patient is what's in the literature.  The Kaiser model also streamlines healthcare because it reduces the dual agenda independent payer/provider model to one agenda...and it works too.

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