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Cravings of the healthcare consumer.

Posted Dec 23 2008 9:14pm

Despite the progress that healthcare organizations have made with respect to integrating technology, today’s healthcare consumer wants are not well addressed. Emergency Department (ED) wait-times, over crowding, lengthy admission times [from the ED to the patient’s room], and access to care problems are only a few of today’s disconcerting issues effecting healthcare consumers.

We live in a world packed with technology. The conveniences that have been afforded us through the exploitation of technological advances are truly remarkable. Our technological amenities and conveniences have been born out of a societal need to spend less time doing the things we have to do, and the desire to constantly be “connected”.

In sum, our world is all about clicking, swiping, texting, and drive up windows. We have become accustom to not waiting. Many services and industries have made the jump to accommodate consumer desires, by integrating technology into their [what I call] consumer interfaces – the point where products and services interact with the consumer, healthcare is still trying to catch up.

Innovative ideas have become realities that have increased market share for organizations as well as provided improved access to rudimentary healthcare. Retail clinics, although not a new weapon in the arsenal of healthcare, they are making some what of a come back if you will. Wal-Mart as well as other retail chains has incorporated these healthcare centers into their organizational spaces. The hope here is that access for minor medical issues will be improved and ED wait times which are traditionally long will realize some relief.

It’s not enough though. Satellite clinics, urgent care centers and the like are not enough. Healthcare consumers want improved access to healthcare providers. This means more appointments with primary care providers (PCPs), more PCPs, extended hours of operations for non-acute care based clinics, and improved commutability. Traveling long distances to obtain healthcare is in direct conflict with most consumers of today.

Technology has transformed healthcare consumers into impatient patients. Even if healthcare wanted to make the jump to drive up window speed it is doubtful that it could do so. Nor is it even a wee bit advisable. Medicine is all about science, chemistry, and time. Even with the assistance of technology, the delivery of healthcare is restrained by many variables. The body in which we all live is highly complex with a multitude of interdependent systems. You can’t just put the power on high and in 6 minutes have a baked potato. Waving a Tricorder over your body to obtain a diagnoses only happens between 7:00 pm and 8:00 pm three times a week while you stare at a box from the couch.

Healthcare is as much of an art as it is a science. To accurately care for anyone correctly, ensuring safety, and providing quality results takes time. Today’s healthcare consumer’s best bet to experience a more expeditious delivery of care would be wise to listen to reason. Here is my advice:

Slow down the pace.
Read more books.
Lose the weight.
Get in shape.
Have more fun.
Save some money.
Utilize healthcare resources responsibly.
Minimize high risk behaviors.
Take responsibility for your own health.

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