When healthcare consumerism drives strategic technology choice

April 30, 2018 / By AJ Dandrea

As patients become more involved in their health care, the technology industry will be forced to not only listen, but implement platforms that enable patient informed decisions on payment, treatment and security. Consumerism is driving this change and we have seen some interesting mergers and acquisitions (M&A) that have broadened the area of patient engagement, which will evolve into more applications and technology. Healthcare consumers are also more aware of privacy concerns due to recent events involving Facebook and Cambridge Analytica.

What do both trends have to do with technology?

The first, consumerism through M&A, drives technology through mandating use. For example, a company may compel its employees to use an application in seeking care and cost. Though this type of technology has a better chance of adoption because of the mandate, employees may express very public displeasure, which could negatively impact its success.

The second, increasing privacy awareness due to recent events, has a higher probability of causing technology adoption disruption and failure. Consider recent news about Facebook and use of its data by Cambridge Analytica. Technologies like Facebook that have massive consumer adoption are extremely challenged by calls to provide privacy capabilities. These capabilities are very visible, as are their successes and failures.

Both of the technology choice challenges are difficult, but I believe they are solvable using the following:

  1. A strong governance model
  2. Good project management
  3. Being agile to changing consumer perception

The list above isn’t very new or sage advice, but let me explain. Developing a strong governance model not only helps in making technology decisions but is well represented by the consumer, whether they are employees or not. As technologists, we all have our subjective vision on what constitutes great technology, but building consensus and a strategy for the benefit of the healthcare consumer requires a broader collaboration. What is your technology choice model? Is a balanced team making the decision?

The second is something the healthcare technology industry has suffered from for years: striking a balance between privacy and innovation. For companies with a very conservative view of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), recent events may reinforce their commitment to a less aggressive technology roadmap. Given this approach, these companies likely are not industry leaders in their respective fields. However, they do benefit from the pause that privacy concerns are forcing through healthcare consumerism.

Is now a good time to take a conservative approach and create new technologies that address privacy (and do it well)? Or should companies change their current strategy to be consumer friendly?

AJ Dandrea is operations manager of the cloud hosting organization at 3M Health Information Systems