Bridging the healthcare collaboration chasm

I have a fascinating job in a challenging marketplace. In my role as Healthcare Industry Manager, I am tasked with understanding customer process problems and working with them to drive to a solution, which often requires change.

It is both the hardest and best parts of my job, because the challenges healthcare organizations face are staggering. Of course, there are the critical issues of increasing wellness and treating the ill. But there are also myriad issues around financing/payment, compliance and creating sustainable companies in a time of an amazing amount of change in the industry.

It is easier to pull down than to build up.

– Latin proverb

The question

Over four years ago, I had the opportunity to visit with a large Ohio health payer. The focus was on understanding how the payer was using OnBase, but also how we could help the organization leverage our healthcare software better.

As we toured the various departments, we encountered a team with boxes of paper covering just about every inch of floor space. I stopped and asked about the paper. It was from a large hospital system in the area, who was also a sophisticated OnBase user.

As it turns out, the boxes of paper represented medical records from very sick patients. Some of the records were thousands of pages, spanning the decades of the patient’s health journey.

I had to ask, “If you and the hospital are both using OnBase, why aren’t they sending these records to you via workflow management?”

The chasm

That question bred like rabbits. What other ways do payers and providers need to collaborate? Why isn’t there a way to solve this issue today? How should this work?

I would be eating rabbit stew for the next four years as we tried to understand why this problem had not been solved before. It turns out that the answer was not where I expected: This was not a technology problem, it was a human collaboration problem disguised as a technology problem.

You see, in four years of chasing rabbits down holes, I found that the collaboration chasm starts with us. It’s a human problem exacerbated by lousy technology. Our healthcare system is so complex, so laden with rules and regulations that we have put enormous obstacles in the way of doctors, nurses, and administrators at hospitals as well as for personnel at health plans.

Very simply, automation and volume have made it very difficult to work together across organizations. It is the healthcare chasm. And we vowed to span it.

The bridge

But to cross a chasm, you need a bridge. For healthcare, that bridge needs to be secure, fast and as easy as a fax machine.

It has to leverage existing technology. It has to work with both the hospital’s and the health plan’s workflows. It has to be inexpensive. It has to be flexible.

We build too many walls and not enough bridges.

– Isaac Newton

Several years back, I was impressed when I had the opportunity to take a Harley Davidson across the Mackinac Bridge. The ride was a bit scary, but I felt secure. That five-mile journey across the straights of Mackinac was exhilarating. I thought it would make a great name for the collaboration bridge we were building for our customers.

In September of 2017, a new bridge, OnBase Mackinac, will cross the healthcare collaboration chasm. Grab your sunglasses, it’s going to be an amazing ride.

If you have any comments about the collaboration chasm (or any other great motorcycle stories), please leave them below. And thanks for reading.

* This blog post was originally published on Pulse.

Mike Hurley

Mike Hurley

Mike Hurley is the industry manager for Health Insurance at Hyland, helping health insurance organizations transform business processes that drive value for members, providers and employees. Mike works with current... read more about: Mike Hurley

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