Healthcare Needs to Pick up the Pace

Posted on February 23, 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.

By now, I’m sure everyone has formed an impression of the HIMSS12 show. Whether you are here in Vegas, or playing along from the comfort of your office, I’m sure there’s been enough coverage for most folks to form an opinion about the events going on in Sin City.

I’ve come away with a number of opinions about the show, the organization, the healthcare industry in general, and several people in particular. I’ll share just one, brief observation with you, and not bore you for too long with an opinion you may have already read 10 times in other places (and that you also may not agree with).

The theme or “buzzword” that has resonated the most with me at this particular HIMSS has been Delay. I’ve written about healthcare’s delay before, and am seeing it as a constant topic of discussion on the show floor. Whether it’s the excruciatingly long taxi queue I waited in upon arrival, the HHS’ decision to cave and delay ICD-10; the waiting, waiting, waiting for the release of Stage 2 Meaningful Use requirements; the chatter around if and when healthcare reform will be repealed; or the even more excruciating pace of trying to find any kind of connectivity at the show itself in order to make a phone call, send a text or type a tweet; it seems like the industry has decided to embrace a snail’s pace.

Now, this probably isn’t news to anyone who has worked in the industry for some amount of time. Having only been in it myself for two or three years, I am slowly coming to the realization that as much as some of the younger, start-up whipper snappers would have us believe, healthcare reform in the largest sense of the word is not going to happen overnight. There’s politics to wade through, organizational and cultural obstacles to overcome, and let’s not forget that creating and developing new healthcare IT solutions takes time. Quality outcomes can’t be improved overnight – it takes time to implement, train and adapt to new solutions, whether they’re technological in nature or not.

I heard someone at the Dell Think Tank at HIMSS12 refer to healthcare reform as being as slow as molasses, and that’s an apt description. As Americans, most of us have a mentality of “We want it and we want it now and it’s got to be perfect when we get it because we’ll settle for nothing less.” Especially where healthcare is concerned, we’ve definitely acquired a feeling of entitlement. We want the best, quickest, cheapest healthcare money can buy. And it just doesn’t work that way.

Sure, we need to be patient. That’s a given. As Dr. Farzad Mostashari said in his HIMSS12 keynote, “Change takes time.” But for many – be they the underserved, underinsured, or under-treated, time is a precious commodity. Healthcare needs to pick up its pace so that patients don’t get left out in the cold.