What comes first: new technology, or new ideas?
Technology can expand our possibilities in ways we don’t even recognize yet. But are we even able to recognize possibilities or opportunities if we haven’t done the work to examine how we think, and how our thinking needs to change?
These are the questions that come to mind as I prepare this fifth and final article summarizing the insights shared at the Healthcare in the Age of Personalization Summit. In May 2023, top healthcare leaders gathered virtually for a two-day summit to address the challenge of personalization in a field that admittedly needs a lot of standardization.
In the first article in this series, I addressed unleashing personalization in healthcare: beyond DNA, embracing individuality. In the second article, I summarized insights from sessions addressing transformation and consumerism in healthcare. Article three focused on the need to center individuals rather than the organization, while article four shared insights directly from Gen Z.
Throughout this series, I’ve covered several threats that the healthcare industry is facing: financial challenges, staffing shortages, and continued fatigue from several years of pandemic, to name just a few. People in every industry are facing similar kinds of existential threats, and need to learn how to lead themselves and their teams to overcome these threats by adapting and changing accordingly.
This article focuses on the need to challenge our entrenched systems with new technology that is first fueled by new thinking.
Advancing Personalized Patient Care Experiences Through Technology
This session was moderated by Google’s Sunnie Southern, who leads outbound product management for Google’s Healthcare Insights Portfolio. She said the world is changing faster than ever, and it’s more important than ever that we empower people to engage with information and each other in ways that meet their unique needs in a unique moment in time.
“We then need to make it not only easy, but the norm, for these unique needs to be respected and heard,” she said. “This goes for our patients and our employees.”
She said the only way for healthcare and life sciences organizations to provide the type of experience and the level of engagement that individuals expect is through the thoughtful and effective use of technology. This session focused on the role that technology plays in personalization.
Brent Walker is SVP of marketing at Upfront, which provides healthcare enterprises with a patient engagement platform. He underscored that what’s good for the patient is good for providers and their businesses. His company did a study and found that 41% of people in America under the age of 45 believe “Amazon knows me better than the doctor knows me.”
He pointed out that healthcare providers must acknowledge that people expect these high levels of personalization that they get from tech companies – noting that personalization is a sign of understanding and respect.
Kerry Weinberg is VP of data at League, Inc, a platform technology company powering next-generation healthcare consumer experiences. She mentioned the paradox that personalization often begins with some standardization. Standardization “really unlocks a lot of potential for personalization from a data standpoint.”
She gave this example: “When someone moves across the country and finds a new healthcare provider, we need a way of understanding what has happened to that patient prior to the health system that they’re seeing. They’re not a brand new person. They come with a bunch of historic information. The more we can link the information — whether it comes from a prior health system, from their interaction with the payer, from previous diagnoses that have been billed, or whether it’s coming from a consumer application or their device’s data — we’ll have more and more opportunity to actually link this information together.”
Tom Wilson Ph.D, is chief technology officer for Concured, an AI content recommendation platform. He talked about how personalization of health-related content can help restore trust and build brand awareness for the providers that make that valuable content easily accessible to people. “The personalization of that content in terms of when it arrives and when it’s distributed, if that can be on an individual basis with personalization, that’s really hitting the nail in terms of building that trust.”
Watch this short video for highlights from the panel’s discussion:
Pioneering Personalized Healthcare: Embracing Change and Challenging the Norms
The technology solutions mentioned above give us tools to restore humanity and dignity to the way we treat people in healthcare settings. These tools help us create personalized healthcare experiences, and those personalized experiences show people that they are understood as individuals. This is key in our pursuit of personalization in healthcare.
But having the tools is just one part of the process. We also have to change the way we think.
Nancy Blake is chief nursing officer at LA General Medical Center (formerly LAC+USC Medical Center) in Los Angeles. In a one-on-one fireside chat, she said a big challenge is getting leaders to see the need to do things differently than they’ve done in the past. She shared an example of why it’s worth it to challenge conventional policies.
“A 75-year-old man who needed a GI procedure and he had no family to drive him back and forth [but the policy is that he needs] someone to escort him and drive him home. He didn’t have that. So we sent that patient to the recovery room for another hour until he was awake and alert and could sign off and say he was good to go home. And then we called a health Uber that took him home. This was a challenge for the organization because people were saying, that’s not what’s recommended. That’s not what we’ve done. But this man did not have the resources for that. We need to meet patients where they are.”
All the technology in the world wouldn’t have helped in this situation if the people involved didn’t open their minds to reassess how they do things – and to redefine what they consider to be quality care.
Watch this short video of Blake sharing how to know what’s not working with your organization and how to know how to fix it.
Throughout this series, leaders have offered actionable steps for overcoming some of the biggest barriers to operational personalization within healthcare:
- We start off dehumanized: talking about patients as disease categories instead of individuals who are likely facing the most difficult challenges of their lives.
- Shifting the culture seems daunting: breaking decades of attitudes and behaviors that are deeply engrained in our cultures is overwhelming.
- People resist change: we’ve asked our teams to absorb so much change over the last few years; how do we ask for more and sustain those changes?
- Entrenched systems persist for no good reason: healthcare is especially guilty of having systems and procedures in place, often without any rationale other than “that’s the way we’ve always done it.”
Every industry faces these same barriers. But as we’ve seen, there are ways around them. We all need to be able to reinvent ourselves, our teams and our organizations. It’s not the threats themselves that make us vulnerable. It’s an inability to be resilient and to reinvent in the face of those threats.
Register here to watch the entire sessions on demand. Download an executive summary of the summit, to gain access to a roadmap for operationalizing inclusion in healthcare.