Blog posts tagged in electronic stethoscopes

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The healthcare industry is stirring. In the words of Bob Dylan: “the times they are a changin’”.

It seems that with the advent of new technologies, coupled with a greater need to improve the current healthcare system, the digital health revolution arrived. This great experiment is about to start, but there seems to be a few problems in the way. There are some massive hurdles preventing the widespread adoption of digital health technologies in healthcare. Some examples include slow improvements in health IT, complicated healthcare and provider systems, segregated devices, and limited value proven by digital health companies. This has prevented novel technologies to enter and be tested in the greater healthcare system. This is very true when one looks at the electronic stethoscope, an example of a (possibly) revolutionary healthcare device.

The electronic stethoscope is not a new invention. It has been around for more than 20 years. And it changed nothing.

In that time computer and mobile processing power has skyrocketed, we have migrated to the cloud for storage and computing power and internet connectivity has become ubiquitous in developed nations. So why has the stethoscope been left behind? We were all expecting primary care doctors and nurses to be using electronic stethoscopes by now. Stethoscopes that are linked to the cloud, providing analysis and helpful insights into what the doctor or nurse were hearing. The interesting thing is that this problem is perpetuated by the stethoscope industry itselfironically.

Electronic vs Acoustic

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A long time ago in a galaxy far far away…oh wait, not so long ago, in our galaxy, technical support was a different ball game. If something that your company produced broke and the factory was in another country, you either made a plan to fix it locally, or order the part and wait out the months as it was being shipped to you. This is still the case in many industries, but in healthcare technology this has changed dramatically.

With the advent of information technology and smart support systems, the tech support landscape has changed. Now, with the click of a button, a support technician can help you establish what the problem is, talk you through a problem, and have you up and running within a few minutes. This is wonderful, but can sometimes also be a challenge. Support technicians might be in other countries, causing a delay in when you can appropriately schedule calls. This can be frustrating for multinational companies. But I believe some of these problems can be mitigated by providing excellent customer support.

The first thing a client support consultant must do is try keep your client happy. This is the most important thing to remember. If you behave like a idiot in front of your client and try to blame them for the mistake you most likely will lose your client and this will have a ripple effect across the whole company. To counter this you need to approach the problem from a different angle. You need to fit in with your client’s schedule, this can be difficult but an arrangement can always be made so that both parties are happy about the arranged time.

You must always keep an open line of communication. Talk to your client and try to understand the frustration that they are experiencing. Most of the time the problem is easily solved and can be fixed within 10 minutes. If it takes longer remember the second rule: keep your client informed. An informed client will be a happy client. If a user knows that you are working on the problem, they will mostly show patience as they know they are your current priority.

Great technical support does not end there. Once the problem is resolved, contact your client after a few days and ask if everything is working. This is the last step to a happy client. This helps in keeping the communication channel open.   

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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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