The Healthcare Debate, Starring: the Elephant in the Room

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It’s Not About Access to Care – It’s MUCH more

The Fable of the Blind Men and the Elephant

Five blind men were asked to describe an elephant by touch as each felt a different part of the elephant. The blind man who felt a leg said the elephant was like a post; the one who felt the tail said the elephant was like a brush; the one who felt the trunk said the elephant was like a snake; the one who felt the ear said the elephant was like a fan; and the one who felt the tusk said the elephant was like a steel pipe. When they compared notes they found they were all in disagreement.

And this is like healthcare how?

The Health Care Elephant

Today’s healthcare debate is akin to describing an elephant in a dark room. Each stakeholder (doctors, hospital/clinics, government, insurers, and patients) has their own perspective. And remember, just like the blind men and the elephant, each stakeholder’s depictions is true from their unique perspective. The challenge is in gathering, visualizing and understanding their collective truths in order to optimize access, choice, cost effectiveness, quality of care, treatment options, and better health for all.

Isn’t that what the Affordable Care Act was designed to do?

Have we succeeded in providing healthcare to all who want it? Have we made healthcare costs lower so more can afford it? Yes….and no. The answer depends on which part of the healthcare elephant you are focused. To make things more complicated, while we’re still asking these questions, the overall increased costs to healthcare providers and insurers has forced healthcare to take a new direction: consolidation. The healthcare environment is in major flux. The doctors are moving, the hospitals and clinics are moving, the federal government is moving, the insurers are moving, and the poor patient is understandably confused.

This is the over-riding marching order for healthcare today: A call for transparent healthcare solutions that lead to better care, better health, and lower costs.

Disruptive Innovation and the Health Care System

Just like the elephant fable, it is impossible to craft together a coherent healthcare story without a collective visual from all five stakeholders. The best way to see the whole elephant is to include all views of the healthcare elephant into the mix to achieve the goal of better care, better health, and lower costs in healthcare.

With the five obvious stakeholder groups, we have at least five data sets. Within each data set there are common ones between the stakeholder groups and unique ones distinct for each specific stakeholder. It is obvious that there will be multiple layers of data from each stakeholder. How does one make sense from this accumulated array of data? Use a disruptive process that accommodates all the data!

Let’s say you want to help physicians provide better care to patients who have chronic respiratory problems yet, all the interventions they try are not working for a subset of the patients. Those patients continue to have exacerbated episodes of breathing problems after they return home.

The traditional approach is to process all the data by sorting them to discover a reason for the continuing difficulties.

The disruptive approach would not only consider all the data layers in a geospatial framework but also integrating non-traditional data (e.g., environmental and infrastructural) to determine any alignment with the medical situation. Akin to a multi-level 3-dimensional tic-tac-toe game, this geospatial approach allows one to effectively connect dots from one layer to the other to reveal solutions.

This comprehensive data analytic mapping and geospatial analysis helps visualize patient demographics, behaviors, chronic condition hotspots, and healthcare facilities leading to fact-based solutions.

Imagine how Disruptive Innovation that integrates tangible and intangible data sets will open up entirely new dimensions of possibilities to solve your tough problems with greater insight.

© Baldwin H. Tom CMC
www.geoddgroup.com

reprint - Aug 2016

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