Maybe Technology Adoption in Health Care Isn't as Hard as It Seems

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With all the talk in the past about how difficult it is to incorporate technology into our health care system, I believe there are too many excuses. Many other "equally as complicated" industries have figured out how to leverage technology to great benefit -- financial services, retail, manufacturing and more. Today, it's exciting to see the momentum and major strides being made in health IT -- from electronic health records to telemedicine, cloud, big data, analytics, mobile, e-prescribing, interoperability and more.

Over the course of the last year, we have run programs that have inspired eclectic teams of innovators, entrepreneurs, researchers, designers, patients and big thinkers to come together to tackle some of health care's most pressing challenges.

As we know, chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes pose some of the greatest cost challenges to our health care system. Last year, we launched an open innovation challenge, which called on teams to submit technology concepts that enhance patient engagement and adherence to provider-recommended care plans, and ultimately improve the quality of life for patients with heart disease and/or diabetes.

As a result of this program, we embedded teams of innovators into our Desert Oasis Healthcare medical location in Palm Springs, California, to run mini-pilots over a two-week program. Through this process, we saw the power of embedding our clinicians with technology experts, the two groups working side-by-side in partnership to improve our patients' health. We learned that having the technical folks on site with our clinicians is critical to ensuring adoption. It was a true give-and-take relationship: The technology experts listened to our clinicians' feedback and made the adjustments to ensure the technology fit into clinicians' existing workflows. The teams also recognized the benefits of testing their solutions in a mature managed care environment.

Through both the challenge, and the pilot exercise, what struck me is that many teams are using mobile as their platform of choice, which underscores the increasing power of mobile in enabling greater care plan adherence for patients with chronic disease. One great example was Wellframe, who developed a mobile app for medication management, where patients are able to interact daily with their care plan. Frontline clinicians benefitted from the app because they gained daily visibility into their patients' interactions with the care plans.

Another ground-breaking team, Sense Health, utilizes text message/SMS, offering enabled direct communication with hard-to-reach Medicaid patients who are often difficult to contact through other types of communications, making mobile and texting the preferred channel for distributing care plan information, reminders and ongoing words of encouragement to the patients.

Overall, our patients who enrolled in these pilots felt in greater control of their health, and that increased feeling of autonomy is critical to the evolution of healthcare in the 21s century. Watching this innovation develop and then blossom when applied in real-world health settings is a testament to the IT revolution currently underway.