Tomorrow morning I fly to Chicago for HIMSS15 (imagine Disneyworld, but for Health IT and instead of EPCOT you’ve got a maze of vendor booths hawking the latest tech and software). All the preparation and buzz has me thinking about what I want from health IT. Everyone is trying to be the next Uber for [blank]. Google wants to autofill the phrase “Uber for” with “haircuts” and “moving.” There’s also buzz about the next Uber for healthcare.
I use Uber here in DC sometimes. I appreciate the way the vehicles are clean and not smelly, and accept credit cards seamlessly when cab drivers always try to hassle me about not paying in cash. I don’t always appreciate the way the drivers sometimes get lost, even ignoring the app’s built in GPS directions. I don’t love the fact that Uber drivers sometimes assualt women or that Uber HQ can track users locations in real time.
The worst thing about Uber is that it’s threatening to crush the competition, putting full time cab drivers out of business and replacing them with gig economy freelancers, and will then be able to raise fares and do shady things with customer once they have a monopoly.
So I don’t think I want Uber for healthcare. I think I want Roomba for healthcare.
Chronic pain and fatigue, along with two pet bunnies (who shed fur and eat hay) conspire to make cleaning my small apartment difficult. I want products and services that make my life easier and save me time, energy, or money. Instead of pushing a heavy vacuum around, I can press a button on my Roomba and it will cruise around cleaning the floors for me. I do need to spend a little time emptying the bin and untangling hair from the brushes, but overall the Roomba saves me a lot of time. It can be programmed to run automatically while I am at work, and it is smart enough to plug itself back in to recharge.
I see a lot of health tech and I can’t think of many innovations that don’t actually require more time and effort to use. My gastroenterologist uses an online portal. Great! I can schedule appointments, pay my bill, and see my test results, all online. Except this practice actually uses 3 different portals, each with a unique URL and log in. The billing is one portal, the secure email is another, and the patient data is the third. To schedule an appointment I request a date and time in an online form, with no access to the doctor’s schedule or available appointment slots, then over a week later someone mails me a letter with the confirmed date and time that bears no resemblance to my original request.
This is creating more work for me when I need to free up time to take care of my chronic illnesses.
So please, where is my Roomba for healthcare? Let technology make my life easier, not cause more headaches.