Technology is Just a Tool, It’s Not The Solution to Healthcare’s Problems

Today I’m dipping my toes in an area that’s not familiar with me. I’m attending the AHIP Institute conference in Las Vegas. For those not familiar with AHIP, it’s a coming together of the health plans across the US. This group is particularly interesting when you remember that most healthcare providers are also health plans today. In fact, we’re quickly seeing the merging of healthcare providers and payers.

The conference has just begun, but it’s already clear to me that there’s a general tone that technology is going to play a major role in the future of healthcare delivery. What also seems to clear to me is that most of these people aren’t sure what role technology will play.

The problem I think many of these people have is that they think that technology can be implemented to solve all their problems. That’s not how it works. Technology in and of itself is not a solution to most problems. Technology is just a tool. How you use that tool can be effective or not. Plus, you have to make sure that you have the right tool. If you need to drive a nail into a piece of wood, a screwdriver doesn’t do you much good.

I’d also add that even if you have the right tool, you still need the right plan. If you’re trying to build a table and you have the blueprints for a chair, then you’re not going to get the result you want. My gut tells me that most of these people are overwhelmed by the operational requirements of their day to day job and so they don’t have any time to actually explore what solutions are out there for their problems.

I agree with those at AHIP that technology shows a lot of promise. However, we need to spend a lot more time making sure we’re using the right solution at the right time in the right place. That’s a challenge we haven’t quite solved.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference, EXPO.health, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.

1 Comment

  • Okay, Technology is not the end-all, but it’s MUCH MORE than just a tool for solving healthcare’s problems. The accelerating pace of tech innovation is a disruptive force that’s breaking business models and helping to move us away from the fee-for-service model that’s primarily responsible for Americans spending twice as much as those in other advanced nations for healthcare. (See http://www.mhealthtalk.com/moores-law-and-the-future-of-healthcare/)

    Those at the top of the healthcare mountain, especially those resisting more rapid adoption of disruptive technology, are most at risk of obsolescence. As noted in http://www.mhealthtalk.com/101-minitrends-in-health-care/, 429 of the original [1955] Fortune 500 companies are no longer in business today.

    As medical devices keep getting cheaper, smaller, more accurate, and easier to use; more & more functions once associated with doctors in hospitals will move down-market toward consumers at home, office or wherever they are. Telehealth video calls and telemedicine sensor monitoring will extend across town, across state lines, and across international borders as payers (including Medicare) realize that medical tourism often offers better outcomes at less cost.

    All of these trends will democratize healthcare, increase competition, and help move the emphasis away from sick care and toward health & wellness. As Benjamin Franklin said, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

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