So, how do we fix healthcare?
Building them bridges and getting on the same level baby
Oh hey friend!
Welcome to today’s edition of…
“Questions I’m asked but far too lazy to answer… So instead write a blog post”
After the question of “What are the biggest blockers in health tech and innovation”. What usually follows is the far more practical… “So then, how can we fix this?”
And the answer, comes in the form of the beautiful architectural delights of…
To connect anything, and everything really.
The right people. Resources. Organisations. Concepts. Dots. Skills. Data. Capital…
But, don’t underestimate this seemingly “easy” solution.
It’s actually hard AF and deceptively devilish artform. Requiring some unique skillsets. And… actual collaboration.
So, then, where do these bridges need to be built? A short list…
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One of the first pieces I ever published was “We have a communication problem” - on how, given the many complicated parts and stakeholders in healthcare, one of the biggest barriers comes back to basic communication.
And, it’s still 100% true. This is the first, and biggest barrier to almost any change.
If no one understands each other and is speaking different languages (without translators) - what hope in hell do we have of any understanding or progress?
How do we overcome this? More education, conversations and collaborations. And, by having the willingness to put yourself in others’ shoes, understand where they are coming from then communicate and act accordingly.
TLDR - we need some education and translation services
2) Actual Collaboration & Inclusion
Collaboration between different groups, and stakeholders, seems to be the missing piece in healthcare. It’s preached, but never really practised. At least - in the true sense.
the situation of two or more people working together to create or achieve the same thing
It does not mean just imposing what you think should be done, or what is most convenient for you - and expecting others to go along with it. Or for it to be sufficient. That dear friends is called dictatorship. Yet too often how things play out in health - given the long-standing paternal style of operating. But this needs to change.
Patients + Professionals
Public + Institutions
Professionals + Administrators
Professionals + Health IT
Providers + Innovators
Regulatory bodys and, well everyone
To name a few…
By enabling pathways for collaboration, or at least opening a doorway for conversations, this lays the foundations for solid relationships, and you got it - the most needed, yet seemingly lacking thing in health care… Trust.
Health is highly sensitive and personal. So to succeed, a solid foundation of trust is non-negotiable
Yet healthcare seems to have largely lost it. With public faith in institutions at all-time lows after a few too many burns.
Those within it often default to “do not trust” - whether that’s systems, patients, businesses or other professionals…
It seems to be guilty until proven innocent. Yes, there needs to be guardrails and check points - but things like acting like patients don’t know their own bodies. Or physicians know their departments. Isn’t a great start.
How do we overcome this? Deja vu… conversations, collaboration, actually including and, trusting people with information and decisions.
Sometimes, you have to give a little, to get a little. And this stalemate has to stop.
How do you empower people and help them solve problems? Education.
Right now, there’s endless tech & solutions floating around - but the reality is, until everyone has the skillsets needed to
1) understand why it’s necessary
2) access them
3) know how to use them…
It’s kind of redundant.
This is why education, across all roles, industries and demographics is essential.
Education for basic tech, digital literacy and innovation digital needs to become a part of the basic training for all organisations. And will help catapult the whole industry forward.
5) Policy & Set Standards
Or a lack thereof. Right now, our policy and standards for health IT, digital health and innovation are - a little fragmented, at best. Or, non-existant.
Systems are highly divided, with dozens of different operating and classification systems in each state… and suburb. We want data and systems to talk to each other - but how can we do this if we don’t even have some agreed-upon ways of doing things?
With no consensus on “how to do it” everyone thinks their way is right.
Differing standards, policies and procedures for data make the building of bridges next to impossible. Between clinics, hospitals, companies and people.
So hopefully, we’ll see someone step up to the plate and lay down some clear rules so we can actually work towards some clarity and getting things compatible.
It’s confusing. Complicated. And comes with so many layers, many don’t know where to start… or where on earth it ends. Even when you do figure it out, there’s no guarantee your product will be “usable”, make it into organisations or hold up in the market.
It’s no secret - things in the world of tech and innovation took off so fast that regulations quickly fell behind and are struggling to catch up. But there needs to be some more clarity around, well - what exactly is needed. And for what. As well as access points to get information and assistance.
Cause right now - deciphering this da Vinci code is a giant ass hurdle that many early, and established orgs are struggling to tackle. And we need some key people, and resources to facilitate this.
7) Incentive alignment
This is the #1 reason why things actually don’t change. Because there is no reason to. In fact, the current incentive structures are what ensure, and entice people not to.
“But what about health outcomes?”
Sure. But, given we live in:
a capitalist world driven by greed and profit 💰
a country where our public health system, and politicians allocate funds and determine actually what can and can’t be done
a system with chronic understaffing and heavy workloads crippling others
The reality is that that alone, is not enough.
People do what they need to to do and keep their job, appease management, not kill people, lose money and/or make some. Risking going against the status quo - or causing some upsets can have pretty devastating impacts.
This not only hugely impacts our hospitals and health system, but also things like:
Companies & Investors coming to Aus - why would people come here when theres so many bloody hoops to jump through, minimal commercialization and prospects?
Exporting - how are people supposed to prepare to export appropriately if the systems and structures are so damn difficult
Talent Attraction & Retention
So, unless there is some financial, or performance-based drivers for change - at the micro (individual) and macro (systemic) level - things will stay the same.
The business, health and people cases are all painfully clear. So here’s hoping our system starts to reform a little to help plug a few of these holes 🤞
💡 TLDR; we need more bridges. And it needs every single person, and organisation to play a part in building them if we are truly to succeed
And this is why What the Health exists 🍩
To hopefully help bridge some of these gaps through content, community & collaboration - across all parts of this messy industry.
Helping people find each other, learn a little, get on the same level, and communicate and operate in ways each can understand (whilst having fun of course).
And hopefully, create some better outcomes - for health, businesses and people in the process.
Some notes of hope…
Its seems like the message about bridges is finally getting through. The government is funnelling funds into R&D and health, there are whispers of reform (ok, there always is, but people are ACTUALLY showing up and getting in conversations), and there seems to be, from this worsening health crisis - some silver linings. With bridges, programs and policies coming into play. YAY 🙌
Shoutouts to a few of my other fav connectors out there…
MTPConnect, Wild Health, Startmate, UNSW Founders & The MedTech Actuator, ANDHealth, Talking HealthTech & Advance QLD just to name a few.
What other bridges need to be built? Or great things are happening in the space?
Hit reply or drop a comment below 😊 👇
Thats all folks