The following is part of a series from our recent virtual advisory roundtable event, Women Leaders in Healthcare During a Pandemic, in collaboration with other women thought leaders from such companies as the Digital Health Coalition, Highmark Health, and Microsoft. Please keep an eye on our blog in the coming weeks for additional learnings from this event.
From a patient’s point of view, the American healthcare system can feel like a maze you have to traverse blind. There are barriers to coverage, gaps in education about digital tools, and not to mention new complications caused by the global pandemic. Several top healthcare executives agree that simplifying this process should be a top priority in the industry, although, similar to many other factors, the solutions are far from simple.
“The healthcare industry is super complex, and it shouldn’t be,” says Chris Zdanowski-Pattinson, Highmark Health’s Director of Strategic Marketing. “There should be a single platform to manage care instead of so many doctors and varying technologies. There should be one place for all your personal history, information, disclaimers, etc.” But many patients lack access to even a single doctor due to insurance restrictions or geographic constraints, just to name a few.
“It’s a challenge across socio-economic groups to find access to good healthcare,” explains Brandi Ascione, Digital Marketing Practice Lead at Evolution Road Consulting. “Doctors are booked up, there are no specialists, and in some cases, the care you need could bankrupt you.” An increased focus on digital tools could help alleviate this strain, specifically telemedicine, as patients no longer have to rely on providers or specialists in their immediate area.
“Telehealth is one of the good things that has come out of COVID,” said Lynn Clement, EVC of Research Services at the KJT Group. But unless patients understand how to use these emerging digital tools, they become much less effective. “It is going to be an especially challenging time for older generations who are often less tech savvy than others,” Lynn adds. With the industry and technology evolving so quickly, as much effort must be put into patient and provider education about these tools as we put into the tools themselves. “Knowledge is power,” said Laura Cruz, VP of Marketing from Global Blood Therapeutics. “We must provide the right information so patients and doctors can determine the best next steps about their plan of care.”
And “care” is one thing. Quality care is another. “We know more about professional athletes and restaurant ratings than we do about the doctors who take care of us,” Zdanowski-Pattinson adds. “We need to make it simpler. It is not easy to do but it needs to be done—together.”