One of life's great pleasures for me is grabbing my bike and pumping out 25 to 40 miles on the Silver Comet Trail, a terrific 62-mile rails-to-trail bike path that runs from the west side of Atlanta to the Alabama border. Really serious riders put in 100 miles or more each week. Unfortunately, my schedule doesn’t accommodate that. Every year, though, I do try to participate in at least one organized Century (100 mile) or Metric Century (62 mile) ride where maybe 150 riders meet up to ride a designated route together.
As in all sports, equipment factors in heavily. And technology constantly marches forward. About 20 years ago, carbon fiber became the material of choice for high end bicycle frames, ousting titanium, steel and aluminum. Carbon fiber's strength, flexibility and light weight make it an ideal material. My bike weighs about 18 pounds before you put on the pedals and some other peripherals.
Most Century riders have similarly lightweight bikes. So if I'm riding with my buddies, I definitely want to use the most favorable equipment to keep from being at a competitive disadvantage.
However, I could dust off my old 35-pound, single-gear Schwinn that I used in middle school that's made out of steel (or is it lead?) and try to compete with guys using bikes that literally weigh half as much.
But why would I do that? I wouldn't.
When it comes to patient care and coordination, many of us in healthcare are doing the equivalent of hauling out the old lead bike. For decades, we have been complaining about the fractured nature of patient care and the fact that the right hand and the left hand might as well be on different bodies. There are many reasons for this and why healthcare lags behind other industries.
Probably the two biggest are cost of technology and the complexity of changing operations to tap into the new capabilities. Caregivers are there to render care to patients, not act like technology wizards. When you are heads-down, slogging through patient care activities day after day, trying to keep the lights on in an era of increasingly squeezed payments, it can be tough to raise your head long enough to figure out how to incorporate the emerging capabilities.
But guess what? Technology now enables us to graduate from steel frame bikes to carbon fiber. The Internet revolution, cloud-based storage, Software as a Service, the proliferation of smart phones and tablets, and other breakthroughs have ushered in a new age of user-friendly, mobile capabilities that support the goals of higher quality care at reduced cost. I firmly believe that population health management, readmissions reductions and value-based purchasing are not possible without tapping into today's exciting technology-supported processes which didn't exist even 10 years ago.
Yet many in our field are clinging to our old single-gear bikes when ultra-lightweight 20-gear ones are sitting right in front of us.
Why would you ever do that?
Glenn Pearson has worked in the hospital industry for more than 30 years and now, as Principal of Pearson Health Tech Insights, LLC (PHTI), he applies his vast experience to help the healthcare industry fully embrace technology’s role in transforming healthcare. PHTI targets developers/entrepreneurs/vendors, hospitals and other provider groups, and investors. Before founding PHTI, Glenn was Executive Vice President at Georgia Hospital Association for more than 19 years.