Connecting a Disconnected Healthcare Experience

The healthcare experience is disconnected and siloed. But it doesn't have to be.

Praia Health hosted a LinkedIn Live discussion on July 19, 2024 that featured Justin Dearborn (CEO, Praia Health), Andy Chu (SVP Technology and Incubation, Providence), and Patrick McGill, M.D. (EVP, Chief Transformation Officer, Community Health Network).

This distinguished panel discussed the historical challenges for health systems to provide connected experiences, how a flywheel addresses these problems, and how to prove the value of prioritizing these efforts.


What have been the historical challenges for health systems to provide connected experiences?

  • Over the last 50-75 years, healthcare delivery has been disconnected, unlike other consumer experiences like travel and shopping, leading to increased expectations for a more connected and digital healthcare journey.
  • The past 10-15 years have seen the emergence of platforms like EHRs and CRMs, driven by consumer demand, provider realization, and technology advancements, enabling more coordinated and data-powered healthcare experiences.
  • Implementing new technologies in healthcare requires careful change management, as traditional practices are deeply ingrained. A focus on consumer/patient-centered and caregiver-centered design is necessary to avoid technology becoming a burden on patient care.

How did Providence realize that a flywheel might offer a solution? 

  • The healthcare business model is rapidly evolving due to financial strains from COVID-19, increased involvement of payers and big tech, and rising demand for digital services from employers, making care delivery more complex than in the past.
  • To provide great care, health systems need to coordinate various services and data beyond traditional EHRs and hospital walls, encapsulated in the "flywheel" concept, which aims to optimize and integrate different patient interactions and experiences.
  • The acceleration of technology implementation in healthcare has driven innovation and disruption, with health systems striving to deliver high-quality, low-cost care while navigating regulatory challenges and maintaining simplicity in a complex environment.

Why is a flywheel needed to solve the problem of a disconnected experience, and why is it challenging to rely solely on an EHR or patient portal? 

  • The EHR is essential for healthcare delivery, but it doesn't encompass all services and data points from state-sponsored services, employer-sponsored services, and other sources. Patients expect a more personalized and streamlined digital experience, where they log in once and have all relevant information readily available.
  • Patients are often surprised when healthcare providers lack access to all their information, indicating a demand for more connected and personalized experiences. Patients want providers to know their health conditions, caregiving roles, and even their preferences for appointment times, while still being able to navigate their own healthcare journey.
  • The rise of technology has heightened expectations for convenience and personalization in healthcare, similar to other industries like air travel. While the EHR remains crucial, healthcare delivery must integrate various services and data sources to meet these expectations and reduce friction in patient experiences.

Are there other factors that can bring the digital experience together for patients and consumers?

  • Personalized healthcare experiences must consider health equity, diversity, and inclusion, recognizing that people experience healthcare differently. This approach ensures high-quality care for all patients, regardless of race, ethnicity, or ability to pay.
  • Healthcare involves "sacred encounters" between providers and patients, emphasizing the importance of healthequity, inclusion, and social determinants. Technology should support caregivers in delivering care, facilitating these critical interactions.
  • While technology can enhance healthcare delivery and outcomes, the core of healthcare remains people taking care of people. Tech should ease the caregiving process without overshadowing the human element of healthcare.

What does success look like? What’s the return on addressing disconnected experiences?

  • Success is measured by delivering a better experience for patients and caregivers, achieving health equity, generating revenue, and providing frictionless interactions. Patient feedback is crucial in evaluating these improvements, emphasizing the importance of patient satisfaction and loyalty over direct monetary ROI.
  • Providence has an aggressive goal to implement 40 use cases, with a strong focus on streamlining lab appointments, as this not only benefits patients but also reduces the workload for caregivers by ensuring timely lab completions.
  • Simplifying the appointment booking process for lab tests is a critical use case aimed at reducing pain points and friction for patients and caregivers, making the system more efficient.

Achieving a consumer-grade experience is difficult due to regulations and IT constraints in health IT ecosystems. Do you know of any partnerships between tech and health systems that are innovating in these areas?

  • Praia Health's partnerships with Providence and Community Health Network are examples of innovating to create connected experiences.
  • Building effective healthcare platforms requires understanding workflows and interconnectivity between applications, emphasizing the need for health systems to collaborate closely with the broader technology community to drive innovation.
  • Health systems often struggle with managing numerous niche solutions, leading to inaction. Leaders need to have the courage to make tough decisions and execute a clear vision for integrated solutions.