Appello Software did a Q&A interview with Health Technology entrepreneur, writer, conference organiser and keynote speaker John Lynn.
John is the founder of the HealthcareScene.com and Expo.health but also runs a podcast called Healthcare IT Today Interviews. Additionally, he led Healthcare Scene’s acquisition of the leading Health IT Job board, Healthcare IT Central. This included the acquisition of Healthcare IT Today, a unique career resource for healthcare IT professionals.
His passion for healthcare and years of experience in the field is truly impressive. Business leaders and entrepreneurs in Healthcare can certainly learn something from him.
- What made you start writing about Health Technology?
15 years ago I was hired to do an EMR (electronic medical record) implementation at the UNLV health and counselling centre, along with doing top to bottom IT support. About 6 months in, I was bored on a weekend and decided to start learning SEO and WordPress and so I started a blog about EMR. I figured I could share the lessons I was learning implementing EMR and I could learn SEO in the process. That was really the beginning. I didn’t intend to become a writer or an expert on health technology, but I was successful reaching the first page of Google for the search term EMR. Eventually the government gave $36 billion in stimulus money for EMR and my sites blew up and I was able to quit my day job 10 years ago and become a full time blogger ever since having published over 14,000 articles and I’ve written about half of them.
- What do you think are the main challenges Healthcare companies are facing in terms of digital transformation? And how can they overcome them?
The biggest challenge healthcare companies face is the healthcare reimbursement structure. We’re currently in a fee for service world where they get paid to do more services. There’s a start of a shift to value based care that would pay healthcare organisations and doctors to keep people healthy, but making that switch is really hard and is going to take time. One way to deal with this is to find efforts that are valuable in a fee for service world and prepare you for a value based one. For example, the Chronic Care Management (CCM) program or wellness visits. Another big challenge is the way they’ve always done it. Most healthcare professionals make a good living and do quite well. In some cases they have a near monopoly in their area. So there’s not a real drive to change and transform. I’m afraid the only way to overcome this is for patients to walk and choose other options. With things like Telehealth coming into play and patients with high deductible plans, we’re seeing more of this happening.
- Which digital trends will most likely be in the spotlight in 2021?
I’m in love with ambient clinical voice technology that will hopefully help to automate the documentation burden that doctors face. The regulatory and reimbursement documentation requirements are a major burden on doctors and I’m hopeful that ambient clinical voice, which is a combination of voice recognition, NLP, and AI, is going to help. From the patient side, I think the consumerism of healthcare. Some people take this term too far since most patients are not true consumers. They often don’t pay for their healthcare, their employer, the government, etc does. Plus, they are bound by various contracts on who they can see. However, there’s an increasing demand for consumer-like experiences in healthcare. Whether that’s being able to book your own appointment online without having to call in or getting text message reminders, those things are hitting healthcare in a big way.
- What kind of HealthTech gap, specifically mobile, does the world need more of?
Healthcare needs a mobile app that combines all of the great technology, data, and insights that are being created and packaged into one solution that helps to keep us healthy. Far too many people “think” we’re healthy when in fact, we all have various risks of disease. We need an app that brings that all together and helps us understand the risks to our health and motivates us to do behaviours that will improve our health.
- Do you think healthcare companies will survive after COVID-19 if they haven’t, or don’t go somewhat digital?
I think we shouldn’t underestimate the resiliency of a healthcare organisation. As I said, in many areas they’re the only game in town or there’s a shortage of physicians and they’re booked out for months at a time. In more urban areas where there is more competition, this may be more important and become an issue. I also think that those who embrace the digital will be better positioned to serve patients and patients will eventually expect a certain level of digital engagement, but that’s going to take years to fully become a reality. Plus, there’s a good set of patients that want that human touch.
- Do you think the COVID-19 pandemic has been a wake up call for the industry and an accelerator for new technological innovations, such as contactless experiences?
Absolutely! I don’t think the waiting room is quite dead, but it’s definitely on life support. There was no need to implement things like a contactless check-in and other digital check-in solutions, but COVID forced the issue. Now, many have come to realise that it’s a better solution for their patients regardless of COVID. The same is true for those skeptical of Telehealth. They’ve now seen what they can and can’t do on Telehealth and it’s opened their eyes to the fact that it’s a great option for many situations.
- Do you think after the pandemic is over, people and the healthcare industry will somewhat go back to the way things were before?
Never underestimate the gravitational pull of “how we’ve always done it.” Absolutely, this is going to happen for many organisations. It will require a concerted effort to not do this. However, many eyes have been opened and there are some fighters that will keep some of the changes that were made thanks to COVID.
- Where do you see healthcare in 5 years?
5 years is not very long in healthcare. The real issue is the need to change reimbursement. So, I’m sad to say that I think we’ll have pushed into some more value based care, but in 5 years we’ll still have a heavy mix of both reimbursement models. The biggest promise for the next 5 years though is going to be the explosion of wearable devices and the AI that’s going to help us make sense of all the data those devices collect. We’ve already started to see this explosion of wearables, but most of them weren’t very clinical relevant. In the next 5 years I think we’ll see more clinically relevant wearables than when paired with AI will change how we personally think about healthcare.
- What’s the one thing that gets you excited about the current healthcare transformation?
I already mentioned ambient clinical voice, but I’ll throw in all of the AI and other automation that’s being done right now. It’s going to transform how we approach so many things. No doubt AI is starting in the less clinical areas like revenue cycle and other more business focused areas, but it’s going to change so many parts of healthcare for good. We’ll look back at today and wonder how we could treat a patient since we’re kind of flying blind compared to where it will go eventually.
- How do you think healthcare companies should approach and think about implementing digital innovations for their business?
The key is to start with the patient and then think through the business case. If you focus on the patient, you’ll do amazing work that’s focused in the right direction. However, if you don’t spend time thinking about the business side of things too, then you’ll never be able to help the patients. I think that digital innovation takes this dual focus to really be successful.
- What is the best HealthTech concept you have come across so far and why?
Follow the money. Ok, this would depend on how you define best, but if you want to understand why something is the way it is in healthcare, this is the most important concept you can learn. A lot of people want to transform healthcare, but they don’t understand why healthcare is the way it is and the answer usually comes down to money. Follow it and you’ll understand healthcare better.
- What advice would you give to healthcare entrepreneurs / founders / business leaders?
I’ve always thought that the best way to approach healthcare is to have a mix of an outside person who can bring in an outside perspective and question the status quo together with a grey haired person who’s spent their years learning healthcare. If you only have the former, you’ll make a fool of yourself and often lack the connections needed to be successful. If you only have the latter, then you’ll likely not do something innovative enough to be really successful. The mix of the two is a powerful thing.
It was a great honour to get a HealthTech thought leader’s opinion about the current transformation happening in the industry.
Another connected health app developed by Appello called Foxo, is a powerful messaging tool for hospitals, doctors and nurses.
In an new infographic we created, we compiled 10 AI-Based Apps to inspire healthcare businesses. Want to feel inspired? View it here.
We also recently wrote an article about new digital transformation strategies for big Pharma companies, read about it here.
If you would like to work with us on your healthcare project, get in touch.