In preparation for attending the Connected Health Symposium in Boston later this week, I’ve been reading The Internet of Healthy Things by Joseph Kvedar, MD. To give you a sense of my reaction to the book, I plan to send all of my healthcare marketing friends and clients copies as holiday gifts. That’s how important I believe it is. Kvedar paints a picture of the way healthcare can be – and the way it should be.
For me, what is most impressive about this book and the thinking it contains, is the realism that Kvedar brings to the discussion of innovation. He seems to clearly understand that innovation is only helpful if it takes into account the realities of human behavior. His notion of “Connected Health” is on the money and a concept that more of us should embrace.
Kvedar started with a very basic understanding of the opportunity for technology to impact health and healthcare delivery.
“I did, however, recognize the need for technologies that could deliver health in a manner independent of time and place. And I know that healthcare should be available to people in the context of their everyday lives and that implementation of care in this manner would improve both quality and efficiency. (p. 5, The Internet of Healthy Things)
Note the similarity in the ways successful marketing and successful healthcare are delivered! Both are at their best when they are delivered within the context of the individual’s everyday life. In the end, it is always about the people we’re trying to reach, not about what’s easiest for us! If we want people to engage in healthy activities, we need to make it easy and convenient for them. It needs to fit within their daily routine.
The Internet of Healthy Things shines a bright light on the promise of digital health. It’s interesting to read about Kvedar’s vision while realizing that we live in a healthcare environment where most people still cannot make an appointment with their physician online. The fact that we have a lot of ground to make up does not in any diminish the promise of Connected Health.
The truth is, as Kvedar points out (to his credit), healthcare organizations and providers have behaved using a “seller’s market” approach. (p. 77) You know the mindset: “You need us more than we need you.” Therefore, we have structured the delivery of care and your entire experience to accommodate our needs – not yours. (My words, not Kvedar’s.) I’m less generous than Kvedar and look at this as an old narcissistic bent in medicine and healthcare. “You do it on our terms.” This approach does not fly with the new generations of healthcare consumers. They know better. They’ve experienced good customers service and know what it looks like. These are the people who are clamoring for virtual appointments, online appointment setting, and the ability to communicate with providers via email or text.
If you work in digital health or healthcare marketing, this book is a must read. I know that’s cliché to say, but it is absolutely how I feel. You should read this book, as should the other leaders in your organization. If you know me, don’t be surprised if you get a copy in the mail this December!
In closing, here’s a 10-minute video where Joe Kvedar, MD, speaks with Healthcare IT News about the advancements in digital health technology (2015 HIMSS Connected Health Conference).