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Bank of America + Verizon = Patient Demand for EMRs

Posted on January 5, 2012 I Written By

As Social Marketing Director at Billian, Jennifer Dennard is responsible for the continuing development and implementation of the company's social media strategies for Billian's HealthDATA and Porter Research. She is a regular contributor to a number of healthcare blogs and currently manages social marketing channels for the Health IT Leadership Summit and Technology Association of Georgia’s Health Society. You can find her on Twitter @JennDennard.

You may have noticed several big businesses in the news recently capitulating to customer outrage over new and unnecessary (or completely gratuitous) fees. Bank of America made news in late 2011 when it tried to institute a $5 fee for any customer that wanted to use a debit card. Verizon made a similar move when it tried to put in place a $2 fee for payment made by phone or Web. (Really? You’re going to charge me to pay you?)

I’d even go so far as to lump Netflix’s blunderings in 2011 in with this group. First the price increase, and then the ultimately jettisoned decision to split the business into two product lines – one for DVDs and one for streaming. Though customer outrage wasn’t enough to derail the price increase, I can only assume the backlash had something to do with the decision to ultimately stay with one brand for both services.

As Erika Morphy wrote in a recent Forbes.com article, “It doesn’t take much to enrage consumers these days and while Verizon doesn’t fall in the ignominious category of [a] Wall Street bank, it doesn’t exactly engender fierce customer loyalty or devotion either, the way, for example, Apple does.”

She hit the nail on the head, in my opinion. No matter what your opinion of the Occupy Wall Street movement, I believe it has made the average US consumer more confident in their dealings with Big Business, more apt to cry foul when companies like Bank of America and Verizon try to pull more money out of people’s pockets just because they can. (I know I’m oversimplifying things here, and that these companies have seemingly valid reasons for these fees.) As any healthcare vendor will tell you, being in business is ultimately about the bottom line. So it stands to reason that Big Business will always want to get bigger.

To bring it back around to healthcare, I firmly believe that the customer’s newfound voice of “We’re not going to take it anymore” should be applied to healthcare. Consumers are patients and vice versa. At the end of the day, we all want the best care possible for the least amount of money and inconvenience. Let’s take these lessons learned in the traditionally consumer world and apply them to the patient experience.

Are you looking for a new family practitioner? Choose one that has high quality outcomes, has effectively been using an electronic medical record, is willing to explain the benefits of a homegrown personal health record, and is happy to coordinate care with your specialist two counties away. For that matter, you could make similar demands of your health insurance provider.

I know interoperability isn’t always at the top of our to do lists when it comes time to go to the doctor – often a sudden and unplanned event. If you find yourself being cared for by a doc that’s getting by with paper, become an advocate for change within that practice when the time is right.

It doesn’t hurt to start a dialogue. And as Big Business has shown us, using your voice can actually bring about better outcomes for all.

Occupying Healthcare One Muppet or Lego at a Time

Posted on December 29, 2011 I Written By

As Social Marketing Director at Billian, Jennifer Dennard is responsible for the continuing development and implementation of the company's social media strategies for Billian's HealthDATA and Porter Research. She is a regular contributor to a number of healthcare blogs and currently manages social marketing channels for the Health IT Leadership Summit and Technology Association of Georgia’s Health Society. You can find her on Twitter @JennDennard.

‘Tis the season to inject a bit of well-informed levity into my weekly blog post. For those of you who might stumble upon this week’s entry, I’m keeping things light.

My household is no stranger to the Occupy movement – whether it’s following the Occupy Wall Streeters in Zuccotti Park, similar protests around the country, or learning how the movement can be applied to healthcare, it’s been a topic of dinner conversation at our house for some time. In fact, my husband made his first trip to New York City a few months ago to take it all in for himself. Santa even brought him, ironically, an Occupy sweatshirt.

Though the movement seems to have died down – or least gone underground – I believe its principles should not be forgotten, especially when it comes to healthcare. I’d go so far as to say that is was one of the most impactful events/trends in 2011. It changed people’s way of thinking about our economy, our citizens, and what we believe we’re entitled to – whether that be multimillion dollar paychecks or socialized healthcare.

The #occupyhealthcare off-shoot is certainly a bit more underground, and not fully understood by some. There are several websites and tweet streams devoted to it, each with their own unique agenda. Whether you pass it off as a bunch of hippies in white coats and stethoscopes or not, I’ll tell you what the phrase means to me – the effort by those with a voice – big or small – to make quality healthcare accessible and affordable to all. I’ve seen first-hand what sort of assistance government healthcare programs can provide, and I’d like to think that everyone should at the very least have access to this sort of semi-funded care. The healthcare IT community certainly has its part to play in this effort, and fortunately we’re already seeing efforts made in this direction. I’d like to think that we’ll see more of this continue in 2012. Time will tell, of course.

So where’s the levity, you ask? Where’s the humor I promised? You know a movement has really “made” it when it becomes the subject of satire, or when active participants know how to have a good laugh at themselves. Take a look at the Occupy Sesame Street movement, or Occupy Lego Land. Who better to bring attention to financial gluttony on Wall Street than Cookie Monster?

If you happen to know of more humorous healthcare videos, please share them in the comments below. Let’s start off 2012 with a healthy dose of laughter. Happy New Year’s y’all.