As more and more healthcare IT is focused on patients, it’s interesting to think through the different types of users that exist in healthcare and how the technology needs to be able to adapt to all of those different use cases. However, I believe this is true in every industry.
For example, I’m currently sitting at the airport waiting for a flight. When I’m going through TSA at the airport or I’m waiting to board the plane I realize really quickly that there are a lot of different types of people boarding the plane. First, you have the group of high utilizers (usually business travelers) that travel all of the time. They have the process of going through the airport and boarding the plane down to a science. They have a specific rhythm that they’re use to experiencing and they move quickly through all of the processes.
The second group is the semi-utilizers. They’ve been on the plane enough to know the process and they’re more or less ready for what’s going to happen, but they’re still trying to remember some of the steps. They still listen to the announcements to make sure they’re ready for whatever is to come since they can’t remember all the details of the process.
The third group is the low utilizers. These are the people who have rarely flown. They don’t know what to expect and they don’t know how to work efficiently through the process. You can usually see the stress on their face as they battle their stuff, the announcements, and the process of taking a flight.
In most healthcare organizations we have a similar split. You have the high utilizers (we usually call them chronic patients) who know the doctors office process backwards and forwards. You have the people who’ve been to the doctors office quite a bit, but are still trying to remember the process of a doctor’s visit. Then, you have the people who almost never go to the doctor’s office and aren’t familiar with what to expect.
I’m sure we could dive into more of the details of each of these groups and their relationships. However, what I find interesting to note is that one of the best way to serve the high utilizers is to better service the low utilizers. There’s almost nothing worst to a high utilizer than to be thrown off your usual rhythm by someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing.
The other thing that’s important to recognize is that each class of healthcare IT user wants to be treated differently. The high utilizer wants to not be disrupted and for the workflow they’re use to doing to remain the same. The low utilizer wants to be led and informed through the process. If you sent all the information you share with a low utilizer to the high utilizer, they’ll be annoyed.
The problem with most healthcare IT is that they treat all patients the same way. Sure, we talk about personalized medicine, but how many healthcare organizations create a unique patient experience based on a patients utilization of there services? Of course, this is just one example, but it’s an important example of what needs to be done to take patient care to the next level.
What do you think of this breakout of patient types? Are there others you’d add? Are there health IT companies out there which are personalizing their services according to the patient’s utilization? Share your insights in the comments.