Healthcare, unlike other domains, is all about human service. How to adopt new technologies and make human-machine hybrid system work to help your patients recover better? Also, how to use technology and data to improve your financials, along with patient outcomes?
Key Challenges in High-Tech Healthcare Today
Full Circle Integrative Health and wellness center
Patients are no more looking for just the medicines and treatment for their illnesses. They are looking for holistic health. Patients are looking for a new and improved lifestyle to not only get past their symptoms but also heal from the past injuries. They are not only expecting a prescription, but also expecting a human interaction, better communication, conversation, and experience. They are expecting better diagnoses and better therapeutics. Patients are not only expecting to heal of bodies, and from illnesses, but also emotional healing.
Patients are not only looking for treatment, they want it personalized and customized for their own needs. They want to feel like VIPs. They are expecting your center to make them feel good when they visit.
The key challenges are then to:-
- build and maintain infrastructure.
- Capital investment is associated with a well-furnished and well-equipped center.
- Getting top-class manpower to give patients the best experience.
- Superior communication, coordination, and conversation skills.
- Getting profitability.
- Getting enough patients at the center.
- Remain engaged with the patients.
Understand that traditional healthcare has worked, because traditionally we have lived in joint families. Families have played the role of emotional caregiving. People are living more lonely lives today. Therefore, care during a treatment process is no more resistant the way they have always existed.
In such an individualistic society, when someone is suffering from various diseases, the suffering is just too much. Medicines don’t work the way they used to, because medicines never work without the emotional confidence that they do, and that it is important to live. Therefore the care has to be redefined to incorporate such challenges.
How to make treatment more efficient in the absence of family support for emotional and psychological healing?
Leadership Challenge in the Healthcare
Traditional healthcare and technology-driven healthcare are two different propositions. Traditional healthcare is much more human-centric. It is the human skills that have driven healthcare for most parts of the last 100 years. However, with modern technology, the shift is from doctors treating patients to more collaboration-based care.
If Collaborative care, patients want to participate in their healing. They read study and research. Because it is their life. They carry a wider complex set of pain than merely physical pain. Therefore, the leadership style also changes. Traditionally businesses have invested in the infrastructure, and have built clinics and hospitals. Because these clinics and hospitals have run successfully, giving a profit.
Leadership has had to ensure operational excellence in institutionalized care, that was mainly SoP-driven.
However, today healthcare leadership faces far wider challenges than merely ensuring operational excellence and profitability.
- Getting patient inflow.
- Scaling the business.
- Ensuring a stress-free environment for the workforce, considering even they lag strong family support.
- Ensuring patient retention.
- Ensuring data-driven personalized protocols.
- Solving the problems of how support-less home care looks after the patient, once they are discharged.
- Ensuring better patient outcomes.
- Driving patient outreach programs.
- Ensuring the emotional well-being of the patients and the workforce.
- Ensuring low cost in technology infrastructure.
Rural Healthcare Challenges
Rural healthcare is a buzzword. This makes people feel that they are doing their social responsibilities well. Serving the rural population is serving mankind. There is more to it than what meets the eyes.
- The rural population is much healthier than the urban population due to their close-to-nature lifestyle.
- Rural healthcare has basic needs, not the need for a glittering and glowing premium experience.
- Rural healthcare is much more aggregated, than personalized.
- Population surveillance is a bigger need. This is because any disease prevalence in close living communities affects the entire community.
- Rural healthcare has to be more Epidemiological care, than reactive disease-centric care.
- You just can’t brush off money, in the name of “serving humanity”. You have to make healthcare sustainable before it becomes scalable.
- Everyone understands that rural care has to be affordable. However, very few have the understanding of how can affordable care also be available, accessible, accurate, adaptive, and attentive?
- How can you deliver quality care at bare-minimum cost?
- How to provide better diagnosis?
Healthcare Financial Challenges
This is one of the biggest and major challenges. With increasing operational and manpower costs, and skyrocketing expectations of the patients, the skyrocketing price of infrastructure investment, how do you manage finances? Most healthcare institutions are running in losses. Community health centers and clinics are not making any money, and the entire segment is struggling to merely survive.
The financial challenges are not merely one-dimensional. Today the industry has to think through several key financial challenges of all the key players in the industry.
- Ensuring great quality of life and the highest payouts for the caregivers.
- Ensuring less Capex in starting a business.
- Ensuring Shared-economy. Resource sharing and not resource owning models.
- Driving businesses with the more asset-light models.
- Make sure that more can be delivered at a lesser cost.
- Ensuring a strong scalable unit economy.
- Ensuring sustained research and development to solve the new-age problems.
- Building, managing and maintaining a brand.
- Reducing patient acquisition costs.
- Increasing patient retention.
- Reducing need for infrastructure.
- Reducing need for maintainance.
- Redicing unused resources.
- Low transformation cost.
- Scaling the business.
Parallel Case Study of Blockbuster vs Netflix
Blockbuster had thousands of DVD stores across the USA in the ’90s. People could rent DVDs and take them back home at a moderate cost.
They had millions of dollars of revenues, but 16% of that, the actual profit was coming from late fees. Their customers complained about these late fees, but Blockbuster remained a company that made a “profit” out of their customer’s frustration.
This irritated Reed Hasting to such an extent when he had to pay $40 late fees, that he started Netflix with a tagline “No late fees”. Instead of physical stores, you could rent the DVDs online, which would then be sent to you via posts.
“Late-Fees” eventually lead to the closure of Blockbuster by the competition from Netflix.
Healthcare is a need-based service, an essential of life. This, along with Education is perhaps one of the most important services that society needs.
However, maintaining the infrastructure, costly equipment, hygiene, Staff, Logistics, Operations, Bills, and not so many patients put tremendous pressure on Hospitals.
So, hospitals needed IPD beds to be filled. They had everything, not the bed occupancy. So, they adopted the blockbuster model, where the motto was to squeeze as much from a customer as you can.
Unnecessary surgeries with devastating long-term effects like C-section, Tonsil Operations, and Stenting were advised to the patients. Customers do have insurance coverage. However, most bills are covered only up to 70-90%. Too many claims finally lead to denial of insurance coverage.
Challenge in the Preventive Health
Preventive healthcare emerged as the Netflix against these hospitals. Wellness and Preventive health tried to solve the major problem that customers had with hospitals. Don’t get Ill, you will not need their service itself.
Preventive health sold a promise that “you won’t get ill”, hiding the fact, that aging, stress, traumas in life, and not the lifestyle alone, are the major cause of diseases, and you can’t prevent disease.
So, after a decade, in which, customers created a billion-dollar wellness industry, finally got exposed to COVID, where quirk had no place.
Based on the ideas as to how Netflix took DVDs online through streaming service, Doctor-Patient connects online platforms emerged.
To mask the incompetence of the sector, data, privacy, records, AI, etc were highlighted. The focus was anything but the accountability of life. A bad movie won’t kill you, but a bad diagnosis can.
Physical Examination and history taking are two major components of diagnosis. A standard history taking takes 2-5 hours. What a 15-minute consultancy could offer? Almost nothing.
Oh, and predictive health is nothing more than a Health Astrology!
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Life isn’t entertainment, and you can’t drive service to save a life, around cost and convenience. You have to think much beyond Netflix in healthcare.
Healthcare should be affordable, available, accessible, accountable, & accurate.
Predictive, Preventive, Prescriptive, and then, patients, physicians, politics, players that are so much highlighted as the future need, and the marketing of digital health, eHealth, mobile health, all fall flat at the time of need.
To date, there isn’t single evidence of any wellness improved life by 5 years, because the domain is so new that a longitudinal study of 25 years or so isn’t possible.
We forget some basics in the glitter of money. Doctors and teachers were meant to be the pillars of the society, the essential services, they were never meant to make a profit. When profit takes precedence, the whole fundamental collapses, and the systems are crushed.
This is evident by end of another quirky claim that Google AI can diagnose with 95% and above accuracy. A great doctor can diagnose with 75% accuracy and any system that comes closer to it is gold, but systems can’t. Simply because the complexity of the human system is beyond any models that a computer can create. Because it was quirky, Google had to exit the domain.
If you are entering this sector, you are basically sacrificing your life. Enter with this knowledge.
A big shout out to the doctors and the supporting staff who are doing their duty in all the nonsense noise.
Healthcare Medical Device Startup Challenge
We all know that many of the above challenges can be solved by the right technology. One of the key needs in technology is medical devices. If you are planning to start up a medical device startup, then this guide of ours may help you significantly to solve the challenges.