When you think about one of your past medical issues, like that pneumonia you had, you’ve probably told many people the story. How you woke up feeling kind of run down, and you had this cold that just didn’t go away, and then you developed this fever, and you went to see this doctor who told you it was a virus and it’d go away soon, but then it didn’t go away, and then you went to another doctor and she diagnosed you with pneumonia and gave you some antibiotics and after a day or so you started feeling better. It’s a classic story and one that unfolds over time. It’s got the typical phases of a story— an introduction, character development, a climax, and a resolution. But it unfolds in real time and things are at times unclear, murky, and confusing. But those are the kinds of details that contribute to the bigger story. Sometimes these stories last a few hours and they’re great short stories. But other stories are more like Game of Thrones-length series of novels that last a lifetime.
Imagine if the only option you had to tell your story was in 10 minute chunks that had to be scheduled 4 weeks in advance in an office by someone who was more interested in firing questions at you than listening to your story in your own words?
That is how healthcare is delivered in America.
And that’s why I think the fundamentally broken thing in healthcare is communication. It’s nonsense that your story must fit within the confines of a 10 minute in-person visit. In fact, the video visit, which seems to be all the rage these days (it’s not btw), is the same tired “your story must fit within this box” solution. When you actually think about what the video visit is, you quickly see that the only innovation here is not requiring patients to travel to see doctors. It’s not fundamentally changing how your health story is allowed to be told. It’s simply replacing an annoying 10 minute office visit with a technologically wonky 10 minute video visit with a professional stranger you met on the Internet this one time who you’ll never see again. Is that an innovation? Or is that replacing one broken, tired thing with another?