HealthBlog

Thoughts, comments, news, and reflections about healthcare IT from Microsoft's worldwide health senior director Bill Crounse, MD, on how information technology can improve healthcare delivery and services around the world.

Here come the 20-somethings…… and the rest of us

Here come the 20-somethings…… and the rest of us

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Latest issuesEarlier this week, American Medical News published an article with some startling statistics.  Of the 30 million or so Americans who will soon have access to healthcare courtesy of health insurance reforms, about 7.5 million of those will be young people – the 20-somethings.  The article cautioned operators of hospitals and clinics that this particular population of young adults has very different expectations about such things as customer service, mobile communication, collaboration, information sharing, and the use of technology than let’s say the “typical” patient.  It urged providers to starting thinking hard about how they will attract and retain the “Facebook generation”. 

For well more than a decade, I’ve been sharing the following list of e-Health attributes or best practices during my keynote addresses at health industry conferences.  It’s a list that incorporates many of the on-line services and capabilities that people would like to be able use when dealing with healthcare providers.

  • On-line appointment schedulingimage
  • Web messaging and e-mail with physicians and support staff
  • Prescription requests and refills
  • Reminders and “information therapy”
  • Access to personal health records
  • Outcomes and disease management tools
  • Ability to manage payments and benefits on-line

In my travels around the world, I’ve identified health systems that are already offering all of the above and more.  Of course, it helps when the business model or reimbursement system is perfectly aligned with delivering those kinds of services on-line.  Is it any wonder that in America you’ll find these advanced services primarily in managed care organizations that are both the payer and provider of care? You’ll also be more likely find these services in countries or organizations where healthcare is “socialized” or controlled by government.  Again, the reason is better alignment with the payment system.  It doesn’t make sense to use information technology to meet a person’s need for information or services if you will only get paid when they physically present themselves and receive what you offer in an exam room.

imageimageToday, the 20-somethings may be just a blip in the healthcare system’s overall demographic.  As the AMN article points out, this is not a population of patients that typically uses a lot of healthcare services, but they will one day.  And, I would maintain that it is not just the 20-somethings that will be coming to you with different expectations than patients of the past.  The fastest growing demographic on-line is now baby boomers and seniors, and they too are beginning to express, and in fact demand, a different kind of relationship with their healthcare providers.  Then there are all those folks in their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s.  They too are on Facebook.  They too are looking for physicians and hospitals that are far more progressive.  And if you believe that reimbursement systems will increasingly be aligned around prevention and “accountable care”, then the stage is truly set and you will need to deliver the kinds of services that meet your patients’ growing expectations.

At Microsoft, we are working with organizations that understand where the “puck is moving” and plan to be there when it arrives.  It may not be moving quite as fast as that puck in Wayne Gretzky’s famous analogy, but it is definitely moving in a new direction.  And yes, I know you are consumed right now with electronic records for your practice or hospital.  But you are going to need so much more than that to truly transform the way you do business and better serve your patients.  Let us show you how.

Bill Crounse, MD                     Senior Director, Worldwide Health           Microsoft   

  • FYI - People in our late 20's and early 30's look for authenticity with the health care system as well as with technology providers like Microsoft. We don't want to be "sold" or "told" but listened to and engaged.

    So even though we all realize that you work for Microsoft and your blog is part of their marketing strategy you would have far more readers/ followers/ comments if it didn't sound like an ad.. Leave out the last paragraph and the ask.. It discredits everything that comes before it.. People want relationships with firms not sales jobs hidden in a blog and it dates you.

    .

  • Dear 30-something,

    I'll bet you didn't think I'd publish your comment.  However, HealthBlog is very personal.  It is certanly not part of "Microsoft's marketing strategy".  In fact, Microsoft gives me amazing latitude when it comes to HealthBlog.  You see, I've always thought of myself first and foremost as a physician/health executive who happens to work at Microsoft rather than a Microsoft employee who happens to be a physician/health executive.  Virtually every word on HealthBlog is written by me - no ghostwriters, no PR firms, just me and a lifetime of experience in the industry.  It's been that way since the blog was started back in 2005.  I believe that transparency is part of the reason why hundreds of thousands of readers turn to HealthBlog and why HealthBlog is so widely syndicated.  

    You are right.  I want and value a relationship with my readers.  If putting on my Microsoft hat from time to time gets in the way, it would be a very bad thing.  On the other hand, it would be deceptive of me not to be very clear that I do work for Microsoft.  I work for Microsoft because I really do believe in the company's technology and solutions.  I really do believe our solutions and those of our partners are transforming health and healthcare delivery in very positive ways.

    So, please forgive that last paragraph.  What I said stands on its own, with or without the mention of Microsoft.  And, I certainly don't want to be dated.... even though looking in the mirror each morning tells me I'm getting there :)

    Bill Crounse, MD  

  • I'm a fan of the healthblog & Health Tech Today & greatly appreciate you, Dr Crounse, as an advocate of building awareness of what can be accomplished by leveraging technology in Healthcare generally, Microsoft or otherwise.   I don't know that people build relationships with firms per se, but rather with the passionate individuals that embody those firms core values.

    While I work closely with Microsoft (I work for NSI Partner Perficient), I appreciate the many investments that Microsoft as an organization makes in the Healthcare space. From the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's mission "bringing innovations in health, development, and learning to the global community", to the Imagine Cup, where students leverage technology to solve the world's toughest problems & many of this year’s finalists were healthcare focused (loved that Ireland's Team Hermes won, fascinated by some of the other finalists including the Smartphone Malaria diagnosis entry) and an article I read yesterday about a Microsoft Research Grant to test Stroke Detection Devices www.pcworld.com/.../awardwinning_researcher_will_test_strokedetection_devices.html  it feels like driving Healthcare innovation is in MIcrosoft's DNA.  

    As companies like Microsoft continue to push for innovative use of standard technologies in the Healthcare space, it benefits all of us. If hospitals are leveraging SharePoint, SQL BI & other standard technologies for clinical datawarehouses & dashboard reporting, doesn't that offer employment promise to a lot more people that the proprietary healthcare vendors?  Especially in an industry that’s expecting 20% annual growth through 2018 per Computerworld www.computerworld.com/.../Healthcare_industry_leads_market_in_IT_hiring  

    I’m less concerned that your blog be technology agnostic, rather I appreciate that you bring attention to interesting industry trends & highlight innovation.  Now how about some great uses of Skype to drive patient centered medical home health care integrated with HealthVault, or more great Kinect hacks – looking forward to what’s next :-)

  • Thanks for the kind words, Liza.  Your support is greatly appreciated.

    Bill Crounse, MD

  • I wanted to thank you for this great read!! I definitely enjoyed every little bit of it. I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff on your post.

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