The fourth Digital Health Innovation Forum produced by KC Digital Drive on June 22, 2015, at the Sprint Accelerator, was all about the patient. Representatives from three companies dedicated to improving patient care presented unique insights on issues facing health care.
John Leifer, health care consultant and author of The Myths of Modern Medicine, gave the keynote presentation. For decades, Leifer has been an outspoken advocate for patients. He seeks to understand the health care industry by asking and analyzing difficult questions, such as what price do patients and consumers pay when it comes to safety and care, what role do consumers play in making change and what role do physicians and hospitals play in keeping patients safe?
“Health care is unnecessarily complicated,” Leifer said. “We make things difficult.” Although he said positive change happens at “glacial speed,” Leifer believes there are opportunities for more change and improvement in the system and care.
Learning from other industries that run efficiently is one way Leifer believes change can occur. Efficient businesses have a common theme — they are “customer service oriented.” According to Leifer, this mindset reduces the temptation toward business greed because they listen to their customers. He said those in health care need to listen to their patients more. Leifer also said consumers need to take responsibility for their own care, ask questions and hold the health care system accountable.
Staying with the theme of patient satisfaction, Mary Kay O’Connor shared information about the company she founded. PatientsVoices is a healthcare startup that surveys patients’ hospital experiences.
Healthcare surveys are not new. The federal Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAPS) is a current survey that gathers patient satisfaction data. Poor HCAPS scores can affect Medicare reimbursement rates. But according to O’Connor, HCAPS surveys do not identify the root cause of poor scores. PatientsVoices employs trained interviewers who ask detailed questions about patient experiences and conduct patient-directed conversations to gather data.
“We let the patient set the tone,” O’Connor said. “The sole purpose is to get the patient to give feedback. Patients want to tell their story. They want to improve their care.”
O’Connor said she has learned a lot from asking questions about patient dissatisfaction, and PatientsVoices can help hospitals better understand their patients’ needs. The hospitals participating in her survey system receive details administrators need to improve care or implement corrective action.
The third presentation at the forum addressed the use of technology for patients who want to take control of their behavioral health and recovery from alcohol and drug addiction.
Ken Ortbals is the chief operating officer of First Call, a charity providing clinical, educational, prevention, advocacy and crisis services.
Ortbals used his background in technology to create a cloud-based service called Community Carelink. The solution connects people to multiple agencies and service providers across the Kansas City metro area all to coordinate care.
“This is an opportunity to go into the digital age to help consumers,” Ortbals said. “We help them find the best spot then work on a treatment plan. We establish a long-term relationship with the client.”
Establishing relationships between providers and patients has been a key theme across nearly all Digital Health Innovation Forum events.
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Read recaps from previous DHIF meetings:
- Third Digital Health Innovation Forum Focuses on In-Home Technology
- Technology advocates discussed collaboration, access at Digital Health Innovation Forum
- Innovators Gather for Inaugural Digital Health Forum