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Innovations impact on affordable healthcare, part 3.

Hello this is Dr. Eugenia Jones, signing in to the technology marketing center leader’s blog, for the third and final post about innovation and affordable healthcare. Let me start with a disclaimer, I am a firm believer that it is possible to develop a healthcare system that provides accessible affordable quality services for every American. No I am not a socialist. I believe with some good old-fashioned American ingenuity we can develop systems that meet the needs of the many without creating a huge government agency and without invading everyone’s privacy.

I don’t know what that system looks like, but I do know that to get there we need to innovate, and not just the type of healthcare product innovations I described in parts 1 and 2. We need to figure out a better way to deliver services, a better way to communicate with our healthcare providers, but most importantly we need to be able understand what accessible, affordable, and quality healthcare means to Americans. In other words we need market research. This doesn’t mean just surveying likely end-users in the mall, or over the phone. It means boots on the ground research into the how, what, why, when and where of our interactions and expectations of the healthcare system.

Such research is not easy. Often what we say we would do in a particular situation, and what we actually do are two different things. There is a large disconnect between our logical selves and our actual, occasionally irrational, selves. Lucky for us we humans, as beautifully described by Dan Ariely, are “predictably irrational.”  In other words, looking both at what individuals tell us about their behaviors, and by watching those behaviors we should be able to determine what is critical to healthcare system users both in their rational and irrational states. Armed with these data, and some out of the box thinking it is possible to devise a system that address the needs of users, while controlling costs.

Such a system would help people obtain and maintain a healthy lifestyle. A healthcare system that didn’t have to deal with type II diabetes would be much easier to run than our current system, which spends precious resources treating preventable diseases. As American we feel as entitled to our healthcare as we do our educations. Increasingly that entitlement has come to mean that we expect to get it without having to put in any work. Ask yourself this, are you willing to help pick-up the tab for someone’s healthcare if they have failed to follow doctor’s orders, or are you going to let them suffer the consequences of their own actions? Now imagine that person is your sibling, spouse or adult child, is your answer still the same.

A newly developed system should lie somewhere between not suffering any of the consequences for your choices, and suffering the full force of the consequences for your choices, without mercy. After all we are a developed nation, we should be able to spend a little capital on mercy, without it devolving into license to do as you please.  It will take vision and courage to develop a new system, and it will take real data, real market research to understand our likes, dislikes, and expectations of our current and future healthcare systems. Do you think we have what it takes to ask the right questions and gather the observations needed to precede?

 

 

Comments

Eugenia Jones

Innovation is what makes the pie bigger, and it's easier to fill more people with a bigger pie. Without innovation we are forced to divide the pie we have now into increasingly inadequate slices.

Eugenia Jones

It is true there are significant issues with our system, as seen in how much we spend, per capita, on healthcare compared to all other countries. I believe the fundamental reason for the excessive cost is the way in which we deliver healthcare. An article yesterday in the LA Times suggested that advances in technology have driven healthcare expenses up. The article then sites the rate of CT and MRI use in diagnosis and a dubious connection with better outcomes. It is not the technology, or the cost of use, that are the problem, it is how those technologies are applied. The article gets it right when it asks, do those procedures benefit the patient? We should ask the same of medications and diagnostic tests. The innovations that will make the greatest difference in our healthcare system is process innovation, i.e. changing how we deliver healthcare to insure better quality, lower cost services.

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