Scoring my COVID Predictions Part 2 – Remote Medicine
“Doctors are great–as long as you don’t need them.” Edward E. Rosenbaum
“Don’t misinform your doctor nor your lawyer.” Unknown
As I reviewed this prediction, I realized this was one of my best researched posts. There were multiple examples of how technology was positively impacting healthcare delivery, and all of the data led to the logical conclusion that both experience and technology were driving us to more efficient and cost-effective delivery of healthcare services. My hypothesis was that as both patients and doctors became more familiar with the technology, we would leverage that to decrease physical visits to the doctor's office. Furthermore, we would use this technology to gain access to the best doctors, not just the closest doctor. Here is that article:
Was I right?
There has been some movement in that direction. I can now interact with my primary care physician online and am able to get basic questions answered. My test results are posted to a secure website where I can log in and track changes over time. The other day I was able to get a routine medicine refill done remotely. That's about it. So far, the medical community (at least that subset I interact with!) haven't embraced remote technology tools to increase efficiency.
Just like many large companies, physicians’ offices want to get “back to normal” where they can see patients in the traditional way. It is the model they know and understand, and change is difficult. Here is an example. I suffer from a skin condition and over the counter treatments can’t resolve the issue. I have a standing prescription at the pharmacy, and every three months I get it refilled. At the last refill, the pharmacy notified me that the physician denied the refill because they needed to see me first.
Why? I understand that they might want to touch base to discuss my overall health, but we could do that over the phone. If they want to see me, we can certainly accomplish that on a video conference. None of those options are available to me, so I have to take time off work and drive to their office so they can see me. Literally all of that could have been done remotely!
Upon reflection, I realize that I made the same mistake I made with my first prediction. I assumed that reasonable people would look at the facts and make a rational decision. That is often a mistake! I also failed to consider that there is an entire ecosystem that supports the current “go to the office” model, and any changes to that would be incredibly disruptive. Think of how many office jobs are supported by the current model. Furthermore, while medicine is incredibly innovative at the cutting edge, the day to day operations are the responsibility of middle managers who likely have no desire to innovate.
I am certain that eventually we will adopt the lessons learned about remote options for healthcare, but not today.
Are we witnessing the death of self-awareness on a massive scale? I am shocked at how many pundits and commentators are wrong about issue after issue, yet there is never retrospection or apologies for reporting false facts. Business leaders make mistakes that cost shareholders billions of dollars, yet they never even acknowledge it. Government officials support policies that are inconsistent and contradictory to other policies they support, yet the gladly step in front of the camera and share their opinion on yet another issue they will probably be wrong about. How do they do that? Normal people feel bad when they make a mistake or lie, but these public figures seem fine with it. As the leading thinkers of the Renaissance stated, no system can survive if the leaders lack virtue. Lack of self awareness is a symptom of that.