Digital giants have discovered that technical know-how alone isn’t enough
In recent years, more than a few tech industry giants have set out to fix what appeared to be comparatively straightforward challenges in health care, only to quietly retreat with their tails between their legs as much smaller health care IT firms feigned surprise. To outsiders, their failures made no sense at all.
Weren’t these the same innovators that redefined how business is done? And weren’t they the same companies that in just a few years advanced health care light years ahead with compute power, limitless storage and networking sophistication now taken for granted – even as they introduced innovations in data science that revolutionized patient care?
The answer of course is yes, but the bigger question that is not asked often enough is how a different outcome was ever expected—not because the preeminent technology leaders are lacking, but because health care is unlike any other industry. No other arena requires so much technical acumen to solve its technology challenges. But that is just the tip of the iceberg.
The digital front door—which provides patients with an intuitive, personalized experience for care navigation—puts this reality in perspective. Digital front doors are crucial for facilitating interactions between patients, providers and payers on everything from appointment scheduling to prior authorization and payment.
Digital front doors are not overwhelmingly daunting from a technical perspective. Yes, they encompass a number of technologies, such as electronic health records, patient portals, payers’ core systems, call centers, chatbots, mobile devices and many others. But such platforms should be fairly straightforward for the world’s best technology companies to build and deploy.
Why then do so many tech companies struggle to create effective digital front doors in health care? And more broadly, why do so many health care IT projects undertaken by tech juggernauts fail when their success in other industries is without parallel?
Domain expertise is often hyped, but in health care the hype is real.
In the more than three decades since Internet companies first emerged and began looking for ways to apply their skills in health care, domain expertise has proven to be a key factor of success, for five reasons.All are broadly applicable and can be attributed to failures not only in the design, development and implementation of digital front doors, but other health care systems as well.
For providers and payers that want to transform their operations with a digital front door and other mission-critical systems, these factors are not a reason to remain static. Instead, they are a reminder to proceed with a two-pronged approach that combines best-in-class technology providers with partners that have a long track record of not only designing and implementing successful health care systems, but who can also speak to the risks and potential points of failure involved – points we know are capable of stopping the most successful technology companies when working alone.
John Squeo is senior vice president of provider and health care services at CitiusTech.