What Health Care Can Learn From a TV Remote Control
For patients, navigating the medical system is a struggle — even when they are relatively well. It’s worse when they’re sick, such as patients with complex medical problems requiring urgent attention, like work-ups for cancer. Simply trying to coordinate appointments between specialists can be incredibly frustrating and time-consuming. And because specialists often work in individual silos, they don’t communicate with one another, leaving hapless patients and their families to shuffle themselves and their reams of information from one specialist to the next.
A recent survey commissioned by ZocDoc, which is trying to apply an OpenTable-style online scheduling model to health care, found that young adults are especially frustrated with the current health-care infrastructure. More than half of 2,000 18-to-34-year-olds surveyed said they delayed getting medical care because the process is a “pain.” More than 60% of these tech-savvy Gen Yers — who are accustomed to scheduling their lives with the touch of a screen — said they felt they were at the mercy of their doctor’s receptionist just to make an appointment.
Patients aren’t the only ones suffering. Navigating new medical technology can be equally frustrating for doctors. Take the computerization of medical records, which is supposed to help reduce errors by improving documentation and making it easier for physicians to access and share information. The problem is that many digital systems are not designed well, actually making doctors less efficient. The overly complex process of electronically documenting medical records pulls doctors away from the bedside to the computer; computerized charting systems dramatically increase the time it takes to enter patient information when compared to the old paper-based systems.