Next Things First


An Early Morning Reality Check by Rob Coppedge
September 30, 2008, 5:42 am
Filed under: consumer engagement, health it | Tags: ,

The New York Times published an essay this morning by Dr. Abigail Zuger which does a great job of reminding us that – despite our best efforts – “health” is extremely difficult to quantify, measure and control:

This is your health we’re talking about, the intangible that you probably think people like me can help you achieve and maintain. Why do we all persist in treating health like a bankable asset? Is it the solidity of our flesh and bone? The lab reports that look like bank statements? Either way, the operant fiction is that with diligent adherence to expert advice, pretty much anyone can sock away a nice little stash of health for the future.

In fact, though, health is the opposite of a commodity. It flits around… defying all the best intentions and predictions. No one can really articulate what the word means; no two people understand the concept in exactly the same way. And that includes you and your doctor.

This advice is especially important to those of us in the business who are comfortable talking about insured populations in terms of “lives”, health care facilities in terms of “beds” and to whom everything comes back to “data”. Certainly, more and better metrics are needed and I believe strongly that data driven analytics and predictive modeling will revolutionize the delivery of care. However, we have to be careful not to forget that individuals interact with the health care system in very personal ways (what is more personal than sickness).

To this end, successful health care services business models going forward have to be a mix of the technical and the personal. Technology driven solutions are needed, but only the ones that appreciate the intricacies of translating their service for the realities of the population they are serving will be successful.

In other words, now as ever in health care services, the best technology alone won’t win. And that’s not a bad reminder for guys like me who never tire of talking about “innovation” and”disruption”…

Clearly, there is health, and there is health, and sometimes the twain just will not meet.

Posted by RobC

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