Technology Ideals Meet the Real World

The March issue of Workflow magazine focuses on verticals and, as always, it is information-packed, covering a number of verticals; not just the more commonly mentioned ones like healthcare, government and education, but some of the lesser-touched-upon topics like construction and manufacturing.

One of the things all these verticals have in common is that there is a lot of innovation happening, with technology working to make things smoother, better and simpler. But the other thing they all have in common is that to achieve these desired results, the technology has to be adopted by everyone involved. And that, as everyone working to make this happen knows all too well, is the hard part.

Let me now tell you a story about my day at HIMSS 2019. The Healthcare Information and Management Society’s annual event is sometimes called the CES of healthcare. With more than 1300 high-tech companies exhibiting and more than 45,000 attendees, if it’s happening in healthcare technology it’s at HIMSS. I was only able to attend one day of the show because I had a doctor’s visit scheduled for the next day — a minor outpatient procedure that (I thought) had been on the books since early January.

I’d called my doctor’s office before I left the house to confirm my insurance information with the office and went on my merry way. Cut to me at the show, with a full day of meetings scheduled to try to maximize my time. Just as I’m taking a tour of the Cisco booth, viewing their technology designed to enhance the patient experience, I get a call from my doctor’s office. I can’t return the call, though, because with 45,000 people packed into the convention center, the lines are overloaded. I head to the loading dock, where I managed to get a signal, only to find that they are calling to see if I want to schedule the procedure. You know, the one that I arranged my whole week around. Turns out two divisions of their office staff did not communicate — they want me to do the procedure at a hospital, which was also not communicated to me, and that is a different department. Since I don’t have a lot of time to be annoyed, I just say OK. But now to reschedule they need my insurance information again. Well, I didn’t bring my wallet when I packed my laptop bag, but hey — I have the app! Which means I have an electronic version of my insurance card because, technology! Except they want the number on the back side of the card. My electronic card has no back side. I call my husband for the information. Eventually, this leads to me screaming out a lot of PII and probably some PHI over the phone on a crowded loading dock at a healthcare technology event.

This is not a slam on the healthcare industry, or even my particular healthcare provider, but simply a comment on the divide between what’s optimal and what’s real. Technology leaders in vertical markets are innovating daily, but those on the front lines are often resistant — or simply not receiving the information. As everyone I spoke with at HIMSS that day agreed, the barrier between development, implementation and adoption is the biggest issue, but one we’re making progress on, slowly but surely.

is BPO Media and Research’s editorial director. As a writer and editor, she has specialized in the office technology industry for more than 20 years, focusing on areas including print and imaging hardware and supplies, workflow automation, software, digital transformation, document management and cybersecurity.