Tag Archives: #imaging3

Healthcare’s Digital Natives

Whether you read a medical journal, a magazine, or get news delivered to your email or Twitter feeds you will notice that there is a lot of talk about the use of technology in healthcare.

On a daily basis, I get pulled or tagged in multiple conversations online about the use of electronic medical records, digital health, mHealth and the lack of interoperability.

I get to have conversations with physicians and administrators from both academic medical centers, integrated delivery networks, and community hospitals.

I get to hear the good, the bad, and the stories on the struggle of implementation, culture change, and other issues surrounding the transition into the electronic world.

My hypothesis is that most physicians and administrators struggle because they are not the “digital native” within healthcare.

The term digital native was coined by Marc Prensky in his 2001 article entitled: “Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants.” His observation was simple:

“…children raised in a digital, media-saturated world, require a media-rich learning environment to hold their attention, and Prensky dubbed these children “digital natives”.

When I apply this concept to healthcare, the most natural “digital natives” would be those physicians and administrators that reside in radiology and radiation oncology.

While x-rays have been around since 1895, the invention of computed tomography is a more recent development. One that is about 45 years old. Same holds true for MRI. Other imaging technologies such as hybrid imaging like PET-CT are less than 30 years old.

The world of radiology has adopted new technologies quickly.

Radiologists have taken the time to understand the clinical applications, the impact to diagnostic medicine, and the benefit(s) to the care of patients.

In fact, radiologists were the first within the healthcare system to drive mass adoption and successful implementation of electronic medical records with HIS/RIS and Picture Archived Computer Systems, or PACS.

Yet in the world of healthcare, radiologists are the last physicians that an EMR/EHR implementation team considers to partner with for success.

Instead, healthcare IT teams recruit the “digital immigrants” to be the champions to drive adoption of new technology in healthcare.

The “digital immigrants” of healthcare refer to the other “ologists”.

Think of the neurologist, nephrologist, cardiologist, oncologist, surgeons, or primary care physicians.

While all of these physicians are extremely smart and knowledgeable, the majority of their daily work doesn’t occur in the digital world.

Healthcare is a business that thrives on sharing best practices.

The best practice for mapping out a new digital world, creating the roadmap, and generating directions to arrive at the right destination in healthcare has been done multiple times by radiologists.

As healthcare continues to change, evolve, and explore uncharted roads into the digital ecosystem we need to consider creating a treaty and allowing the digital natives in radiology to help guide us to the new world.

A world where care is delivered at the N of 1.

As always you can feel free to email me at cancergeek@gmail.com or follow me on Twitter @cancergeek



Dear Patient WIll You Marry Me?

Patient Engagement.jpg

Patient engagement. It’s another one of the many healthcare #buzzwords or as I like to say #hcflair that physicians, nurses, administrators, consultants, and many professional organizations use.

According to a Health Policy Brief in the February 14th, 2013 issue of Health Affairs, patient engagement refers to the people actively involved in their health and health care. It is important because this group of people tend to have better outcomes–and, some evidence suggests, lower costs.

In a May 2,2013 article entitled “This Is What Patient Engagement Really Is” on KevinMD.com by Dr. Robert Lamberts he states that patient engagement is about interaction, listening, and learning in relationship to another person.  Engagement is not a strategy, it is care.

When I think of the phrase engagement, I immediately begin to think of when two people decide to make a commitment to one another. A commitment to have, to hold, to listen, for better or worse, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.

Most often my mind imagines that one person is kneeling holding a ring and asking the other person to enter into this relationship.

So I struggle with “patient engagement” because I have never seen a physician, a nurse, a hospital, a wellness clinic, or a healthcare system take the time to get to know my story, court me, and then ask for my hand in marriage, ahem, my life in sickness and health.

I have had them ask me the same questions everyone else does, what insurance do you have?

Where I really struggle is that I typically do not define myself as a patient. I define myself in a lot of other ways, but never really as a patient. As a matter of fact, I usually introduce myself as Andy in WI. Builder of hospitals and cancer centers; Designer of patient experiences (whatever that means); Developer of service lines; Global marketer; Advocate; Disruptor.

Amongst the many healthcare conferences, meetings, professional sessions, and vendor showcases I have only twice seen anyone introduce themselves as a patient. (in 14 years across the globe)

In online communities, there are definitely more people that do introduce themselves as a patient.

If we wait until people are patients, are we too late to engage them?

In my experience, it is not until we have our own “WTF is wrong with me?” moment, that we seek a medical professional to figure out and inform us on what is wrong. To generate an answer to our “what” question, a diagnosis.

It is not until we have a diagnosis that most of us consider ourselves to be a patient. Up until that point, we are just people living our lives, doing our daily activities, not caring about hospitals, physicians, nurses, and the healthcare system.

When we are in pain, sick, hurting, or told that we have a life altering diagnosis, are we ready to be married so quickly? Do we have time to date around and make sure we want to marry this physician or this hospital?

I have had many conversations over the past year with developers, vendors, healthcare organizations, administrators, physicians and other clinicians on this topic. Most jump to technology as being the key to “engaging” the patient.

However, when I talk to patients, it is a very different jump. It is more of a quantum leap.

Patients want things to be simple, easy, personal. Technology can compliment, but it is the personal connection that builds the relationship.

Patients want a relationship. They want to know that when it is 3am in the morning and they are feeling horrible that they can call and someone will be there to answer their questions. Patients want to know that if they leave and forget the conversation that someone wrote them a little note to remind them of the discussion. Patients want to know if they have reservations that their healthcare team is willing to listen, support, and offer them resources.

People build relationships. Relationships build trust. Trust builds engagement.

In my opinion if we are going to truly engage we need to begin prior to a diagnosis. We need to engage a community based on their needs, their challenges, and their problems.

Define the problems of a community. Understand the people. Then healthcare can prescribe the appropriate answer while treating patients as people.

As always, you can feel free to contact me at: CANCERGEEK@GMAIL.COM or follow me on twitter @cancergeek