Proverbs – Digital Health Style
1. Nothing remains constant except change, itself.
I had the most amazing PCP for 20 years. She took a holistic view to health. Over the years she suggested treatment options ranging from pharmaceuticals, to acupuncture, to home-brewed teas. When she retired, my care transitioned to one of her colleagues. He is a kind, caring man, firmly rooted in western, allopathic medicine. I was not sure it would be a good fit. But seeing as he is in Boulder (the healthy lifestyle capital of the world) and he inherited patients with wide-spanning views on health management, the pressure to support this diversity was considerable.
Fast forward 3 years. Where he once rolled his eyes and poo-pooed eastern and natural treatment options, he now sincerely offers them up to patients who want greater choice and to take an active role in their healthcare and lifestyle decisions. He provides an excellent example of adapting to the changing needs/desires of his patients.
2. Walk a mile in their shoes.
I have no doubt it was difficult for him, but he did it, because it was in his patients’ and his practice’s best interest.
We ask people to change their behavior – exercise more, eat healthier, quit smoking, consistently take their medication – but most don’t, even though they know they should. The same is true for us. How often do we prescribe a specific digital health service or exercise class versus a drug? Provider groups and health systems find it just as hard to change deep-rooted behavior relative to day-to-day business and clinical operations, as patients do making prescribed “lifestyle” changes. We are all human.
3. Practice what we preach.
If we want to change our patients’ behaviors, we must lead the change with strategies and tools that can guide them day-in and day-out, in a personal and meaningful way. We need to treat them like people, and not just patients. We must adapt to, and adopt new health and health IT innovations that can make a difference to their health – and to our bottom lines. Just like we evaluate each patient’s situation, we need to be strong enough to judge each innovation on its merit and not let the fear of change keep us from doing what we know is best. If we can’t change, how can we expect it of the people we are trying to help?
4. Our fear of the unknown is always worse than the reality.
If we want to change our financial health in the world of consumer-driven care, then we must first start by changing our own behaviors – just like my doctor did. We must accept that the bulk of the competition and healthcare innovation is not coming from the incumbent health IT entities. We must be open to new care delivery strategies, innovations and partnerships to achieve sustainable results. Trying something new can open up new worlds and opportunities you never thought possible!