It’s time to pack my Walking Gallery jacket for a different type of conference. I have spoken at technology conferences about patient experiences and putting the patients at the center of care, but this time I will be speaking with my sister at the Planetree International Conference on Person-Centered Care. I have been thinking a lot about the conference attendees, where they come from and the important work that they are doing at their organizations. While the focus of the conferences may differ – the perspective that we bring is the same.
My sister Beth and I live at the intersection of the patient & health technology. It drives many of the conversations we have and the story we share. Among the most frequent questions she asks me are the ones that start with “The most frustrating thing was asked of me by the [clinic, Dr’s office/hospital] – they should be able to do this, right?” My sister is a tech savvy customer in all aspects of her life, from being a patient living with lung cancer to being an academic using online grading systems and library journal databases. She knows how customer service and “commercial grade” technology can and should work. When similar systems fail her in with the information that is most critical to her – her health data – it quickly becomes beyond frustrating.
In preparing for this conference I have been thinking a lot about the organizations that are practicing patient centered care and doing it well – and I think in large part they have one thing in common. They are the organizations that mission driven. They are able to articulate clearly what their mission is and the strategies that they are implementing to achieve it. They are the organizations that understand at a core level that every place (physical and virtual) the organization interacts with a patient is an opportunity for building a relationship that will support them in meeting their healthcare goals.
All too often in healthcare settings, there is one group of people working on and making decisions related to strategy, and there is a separate group of people making decisions about technology. Health IT is often seen as a tool and not as an experience. As technology becomes more and more ubiquitous in our daily lives, the healthcare organizations that are going to differentiate themselves are the ones that are evaluating the next wave of Health IT and EHRs based on how those tools support their mission and help ease the pain points for the patient in navigating the healthcare system.