Many years ago I attended a business technology convention whose keynote speaker was the CEO of the largest U.S. cable television provider. A reporter asked the CEO why cable television subscriptions had capped at seventy percent of U.S. households. The CEO replied that older people did not subscribe to cable. The reporter then asked the CEO how the industry would deal with that situation. The CEO stated, “We are waiting for the older people to die off.”
Healthcare does not have the luxury of waiting on anything. Some people in healthcare pretend the issue of whether to apply technology to patient access is irrelevant because they have patients who do not use technology, people who do not use the internet. Indeed there are patients who are more comfortable accessing their provider by phone. However, the converse is true, and it is true in much larger numbers. Applying technology to improve the patient access experience is not a binary trap, it is not an either or situation.
One of the great things about technology is its impartiality. Technology, when applied to patient access does not take sides, and it is relatively difficult to hurt its feelings. Plus it has a great memory—it gives the same response, the correct response, every time to the same question. Technology makes access easy for the patients and consumers, and it makes it easy for the health system.
Foresight versus hindsight. How difficult would driving be if the only view available to the driver was the view from the rearview mirror? Three years from now the best hospitals will look back at why the question of innovating patient access was ever in doubt.
Three years from now the other hospitals, the ones constantly losing patients, will look back at the question of innovating patient access and wonder why they didn’t do it.