Some loyal readers may be surprised by my authorship of a blog post. I suppose this my reintroduction to Celent. Prior to mid-2020, I led the America’s Life practice. I went off to put time in at a fascinating startup as the head of sales and operations. Hundreds of thousands of MA and MS apps later, I’m back with Celent, but as the head of our new Health practice.
Celent has always covered health insurance but not with the same depth as life. We haven't previously targeted health insurers and vendors as clients. Our emphasis now, in partnership with the broader Oliver Wyman and MMC is to focus, initially, on the health insurers.
But enough of that. Let’s dive deeper into the topic of healthcare. I’m going to quote a bit from an Oliver Wyman blog: “3 Health IT Trends to Watch”. It is interesting because my family has experienced an impact from each.
I won’t quote the entire article, which is free to read, but in a nutshell telehealth, or telemedicine, took off in 2020 to unprecedented levels. Of course it did! There was, and is, a pandemic. Our family used telehealth repeatedly and still does. Now I suppose we’re unique since we’re in the 15% of patients that used it prior to the pandemic. For a large family, with five kids from elementary to high school, it is truly game changing. No more taking your kids to the doctor’s office where they sit with other sick kids waiting to be seen. There are exceptions, particularly testing, but it seriously cut our visits. Now we’re fortunate in that throughout the pandemic we’ve had enough home tests. Which actually leads to the second topic.
There are dramatic discrepancies in healthcare availability in the US. This is not a surprise to any reader but is an area of focus for the future. But our focus is technoloy, and there is a lack of diversity in the training of medical AI. The testing is heavily skewed towards white users which results in inaccurate information for people of color. I have a friend who uses a continuous blood glucose monitor. It is not as accurate for him because he is of Indian descent and his skin tone is darker. There are too many examples, both in and out of the medical field, where the training of technology lacks diversity. This is especially true in participation in clinical trials. Given the disparity in access to care, it is critical that testing be diverse and inclusive. It is critical that all healthcare access be inclusive.
Electronic Health Records
What a mess. During the pandemic, our family of seven moved from Florida to Texas. As you can imagine, we had to establish new healthcare relationships across a wide swath of specialists. The challenge wasn’t finding the doctors, even doctors in our network. For us, the well-insured, healthcare is abundant in our area. The challenge was moving the records from Florida to Texas.
We just burned up those fax machines. That is a pretty telling sentence. Fax machines. There is a classic Dilbert cartoon that I love. He is asked to fax something. His response? He left his fax machine in 1996. Yet the insurance industry, both health and life, still rely on them.
There is so much room to improvement here. Sharing of data is key. Compatibility of systems. Ease of use. That’s a critical one because the data entry is time-consuming and the professionals are having to do it. I remember having a conversation with a specialist of mine that their clinic had a new EHR system. The clinic required that the doctor personally enter all the notes but didn't allow any time for it. It added almost two hours to his already long day.
Just a little teaser into upcoming insights. We will soon formally kick off the practice, including extending our Executive Panel to include health insurers. If this applies to you, send me a note. If it doesn’t, feel free to pass it far and wide to senior technology leaders in health insurance. There will be overlap with the Life practice, particularly in Group Benefits, but we’ll work together to ensure a true Celent experience. We are working on our 2022 Health Policy Administration report, so if you’re with a vendor with such a system and not already included, reach out.
For more information on the inequities of AI, this is an interesting article from Harvard: Racial Discrimination in Face Recognition Technology.