Innovation is a trendy buzzword. You might be reading this article because of it. Or maybe because it has to do with Apple. While I do not have to define what Apple is, does, or means, the same is not true for innovation. More specifically healthcare innovation. So let’s break it down a bit, starting with innovation. There are plenty of definitions you can look up. For the sake of this discussion, I’m going to offer mine. Innovation is creative anticipation of future trends NOT optimization of past successes. Too often I hear and see old ideas slightly tweaked and presented as innovation. That’s simply improvement. Which is not a bad thing, far from it. If you improve a good idea, it becomes a better idea. Nothing wrong with that, but don’t pass it off as innovation.
So what about healthcare? What about Apple? What about Apple and Healthcare? They are trying, or at the very least, they are interested in streamlining the healthcare experience. For a long time, the healthcare experience, or to be more specific, the healthcare consumer experience has been steadily worsening. In a time where reviews, good and bad, are critical one would think healthcare would care a bit more. But a lot of healthcare providers don’t. Before you fire up your email client to send me an angry email telling me how awesome your clinician is, let me clarify that I’m not talking about clinical skills. I’m talking about the overall experience. Did you have an easy time getting an appointment? Did the front desk person treat you with respect? Did the physical therapist email you exercises like they promised? Did the physician deliver the prescription to the pharmacy like they said they would? Do you have any idea what the explanation of benefits (EOB) from your insurance means? Did you even get an EOB from your insurance? Did you spend less time in the waiting room than it would have taken you to watch Titanic? Get the picture? Good, because a lot of healthcare businesses don’t.
How can Apple innovate the healthcare experience? To answer that question, we need to look at quite possibly the biggest issue with most healthcare providers: poor communication. Break downs of communication between healthcare consumer and clinician, or clinician and clinician can and often do lead to poor outcomes. Can Apple improve communication? No, they can’t. But they can optimize the chance and opportunity for communication. Whether it’s with the Apple Watch providing real time updates on patients that can be used by nurses and physicians, or an app on an iPhone that allows a patient to call their physician or physical therapist with a question that might have a simple answer and save the patient hundreds of dollars, or expedite a treatment that can help their overall health—Apple has the platform to improve communication.
Can other technology companies drive innovation as well? Sure. But Apple is a leader that is capable of changing industries if they so choose. Music, cell phones, TV, movies… each of those industries changed, or evolved once Apple became involved. Why not healthcare? Why not now?
In healthcare, change is innovation. Changing the model to be consumer centric would be a welcome change. By implementing an established ecosystem, a culture of communication and focus on customer experience, healthcare can improve. The question is will Apple lead the change in healthcare?
Dr. Gene Shirokobrod
Co-founder, UpDoc Media