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How Northwell Health is Reimagining Healthcare

Cara Lemieux | Director, Communications & Content

October 5, 2017

In part one of our conversation with our healthcare partner, Emily Kagan Trenchard, Associate Vice President of Digital & Innovation Strategy at Northwell Health, shares insight into how Northwell Health is working to improve the digital patient experience.

Northwell Health is New York State’s largest healthcare provider and private employer, with nearly 15,000 affiliated physicians, more than 15,000 nurses and 4,725-plus volunteers. As Emily discusses in our podcast, "The notion that healthcare only occurs in the four walls of a doctor’s office or a hospital is already disintegrating," and it’s clear from our conversation that, as she put it, “Northwell Health stands for looking at healthcare differently."

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Is technology the solution to some of our healthcare issues? Yes, but...

In the recent Wall Street Journal article, The Smart-Medicine Solution to the Health-Crisis, it says, in part: “Our health-care system is uniquely inefficient and wasteful. The more than $3 trillion that we spend each year yields relatively poor health outcomes, compared with other developed countries that spend far less,” and that technology can really help solve some of our major issues in the near future, saying that “Radical new possibilities in medical care are not some far-off fantasy.”

When I asked Emily if Northwell is looking at digital technology as a way to not only improve quality of care, but to also increase efficiency and drive down costs, she said yes and cautioned, “The promise of technology comes in so many different forms...We need to be careful about how we are applying it and where we are applying it,” Emily said.

She went on to discuss the problem of interoperability of the various systems inside of an organization and how both workflows and technology must be taken into account in order to find effective ways to use technology to deliver better, more efficient, cost effective healthcare. “One of the biggest challenges in the healthcare industry is not just the adoption of technology, but the adoption of user experience principles which then allow our workforce to seamlessly move between all of this great technology.”

Admittedly it’s not a simple problem to solve, but for Northwell it makes most sense to start with the patient experience and how that can be optimized from the moment they seek care to when they are going to submit a payment.

Taking the best from the retail model and leaving the rest

It’s no surprise to anyone working inside of healthcare systems that there are parallels drawn between the patient experience and the consumer experience. It is clear that audience expectation has evolved and people are demanding a frictionless, seamless interactions, particularly like the ones we see in online retail. But Emily doesn’t completely embrace the idea of viewing the patient as a healthcare consumer. “When I hear the term ‘healthcare consumerism’, to me, it really sets off some alarm bells. I don’t know that this is the right metaphor or right image we want to be using when we think about healthcare. Consumerism ultimately is about making cheaper goods that people consume more of,” she points out.

However, in spite of the overall difference in what is driving the models of retail and healthcare, Emily does acknowledge that there are some aspects of the retail consumer experience that are worth noting, “...It’s really the lessons around what is that user thinking or feeling and how are they moving through their life making their decisions...those are things that are incredibly valuable.”

You can hear more insight from Northwell Health in this podcast and learn:

  • How Northwell Health is tackling the issue of interoperability with legacy technology
  • Where they see the patient experience in five years
  • How Northwell Health is looking at digital technology as a way to improve quality of care, increase efficiency, and drive down costs
  • Why it’s important to take a 360 view of the patient
  • How technology can reinvent healthcare to build a better patient experience

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