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It is inevitable that the healthcare system is changing. A major shift is from the current fee-for-service (FFS) model to a value-based model. This aims to improve patient outcomes while reducing costs. This is a major change in the system, and is challenging the way many primary care providers are thinking about healthcare. How can we rethink healthcare, how do we position ourselves, and how should we operate in this new environment? 

Many leaders in primary healthcare (thankfully) are realizing that this shift is taking place. The advent of the retail clinic is an example of a major change in the primary healthcare spectrum. A recent Accenture study found that the amount of retail clinics in the USA would have risen by 47% from 2014 till 2017, exceeding 2800 clinics. This shows a shift in many patients’ mindset about retail clinics. They seem to prefer the convenience, and with many uninsured Americans, this could be a solution to the heavily burdened primary care system.

Data is very important in the new healthcare business model. The amount of patients, re-admittance rates, tracking of conditions, treatments and diagnostics are all-important in optimizing the healthcare system and in tracking costs and patient outcomes. A paper-based system is not going to make the cut. Technology, especially cloud-based services, is going to become even more prevalent in the new way of delivering primary healthcare. Trying to deliver better care at a lower cost will require a few new business strategies. Providers will have to improve operating costs, increase patient volumes and effectively track and monitor patients to ensure that their health is improving. These could all be addressed with the use of new health technologies.

To improve operating costs, low-cost screening tests and preventative healthcare technologies will reduce referral rates and limit patient discomfort. This means a better service is delivered to the patient. To increase patient volumes these clinics must be able to differentiate themselves with their services, level of quality, or by ensuring they have the most satisfied patients. Cloud-managed software services could improve the way patients are tracked, and mobile applications could increase monitoring of conditions, as well as create a valuable patient feedback loop. 

There is definitely a shift in the way that healthcare is being provided. The transition to a value-based care model will place strain on healthcare providers. I believe various technologies will be able to mitigate these changes, and ensure satisfied and healthy patients.

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Every day I work with doctors, nurses, physician’s assistants and chiropractors. Many of these healthcare practitioners have their own practice, which in essence is still a business. And how do you effectively run a business on your own (with an assistant if you are lucky)? You wear many hats. You have to be the head of customer service, marketing, technology, information systems, financial administration, and not to forget the primary care practitioner who is supposed to see patients. This might sound familiar to many people who have started their own business, but in healthcare it is having a detrimental impact.

When your attention is divided among many different types of roles, you could get lost in a sea of administration. This could negatively impact your patients, or even your business. In a short survey done by SensiCardiac we found that half of Department of Transport (DOT) physical examiners don’t market themselves to carriers in their community. Half don’t use social media, and less than 30% actually post newsletters or blogs. And to be honest, who can blame them? When you have to perform assessments, do administrative tasks, and be the marketing manager, you will try and prioritize the service you are providing to your patients. But this might leave a few blind spots in your business strategy. You might be missing out on some fantastic ways to improve the way your patients feel about your service, reach a wider group of patients, and ensure that the care you are providing is the best that you can.

Healthcare practitioners are providing valuable primary care services to patients every day. Primary care is the first defence in ensuring that communities are healthy. I believe that this is the way towards a healthier general population. I also believe that this is linked to technology. Technology is supposed to simplify diagnostics, improve your care, and ensure that patients leave your practice healthier or with correct treatments. But most technology is just adding to the burden of administrative tasks that you need to perform in order to provide a great service. I think it is our challenge as technology leaders to ensure that primary care practitioners are receiving the best ways to diagnose patients, ensure that the diagnosis is provided in an easy-to-understand format, and stop us from overworking an already overworked part of our population. Let’s simplify their lives, and ensure that the many hats become less of a burden.

 

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How do you decide on introducing a new technology to your practice? The cost is a concern and will it add value to your practice?

The healthcare industry is notorious for its slow adoption to new technologies. A recent Forbes report is listing the following 5 issues that are preventing technology adoption in healthcare:

  1. Many new technologies don’t address the real problem
  2. No one wants to pay for new technologies
  3. Physicians are reluctant to show patients their medical information
  4. Technology slows down many physicians
  5. Many physicians see technology as impersonal

The big question is, will new technology enhance your business model?

For me the real issue is: when does a new technology add value to my business or work. To make a decision on this, you need to understand how your practice or business creates, delivers and captures value. And what role will this technology play in this process.

To guide me through a decision I’m using the 9 basic building blocks of the business model canvas (feel free to consult the following book: Business Model Generation written by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur):

1 - Any organization serves customers:

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