In our quest for better and fair healthcare for everyone, we must admit past mistakes and implement changes. I’m a physician, and I’ve seen how the old way, focused on providers, doesn’t work. I centered my practice around my schedule. I expected patients to come to me and to “comply” with my plan.
A personal health scare made me see things differently. I got really sick and wanted my family and doctors to talk things over. Waiting for hours for a short talk made me realize this was what my patients experienced. I wasn’t fitting into their schedules, and it opened my eyes.
This old approach isn’t working; it’s stopping us from making healthcare better and fairer. We need to see how technology, mixed with a new focus on patients, can bring change.
Adopting a Focus on Patients
It’s clear the hierarchical, provider knows best approach won’t work anymore, and we need a method that incorporates patients' needs, desires and preferences in a collaborative approach. This means letting patients have a say in their care, respecting their views and needs, and working together to decide on treatments. It’s about making sure care is easy to get, clear, and respectful of different cultures.
Using Telehealth to Break Barriers:
We must put our energy and support behind telehealth. It breaks down location and travel barriers, bringing healthcare to those who can’t easily access it due to where they live or their economic status. The pandemic showed us that resisting this tool wasn’t reasonable.
Building Fair, Informed AI:
AI is changing healthcare. But we need to build AI tools that recognize and incorporate different cultures and backgrounds to avoid creating more inequalities.
Applying Data to Spot and Fix Inequalities:
By looking at data, we can see and understand the big differences in healthcare. Using this information helps us make better plans and use resources wisely to make healthcare respond to everyone's needs. As the saying goes, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”
Boosting Digital Knowledge in Communities:
We need to boost digital know-how. Community members need to be taught how to use digital tools. We must ensure that everyone has access and understands them.
Pushing for Fair Tech Rules:
Pushing for fair and inclusive tech rules is crucial to make sure everyone can benefit from tech advances in healthcare. We must respect and respond to the needs of diverse users.
Driving Change: Next Steps for Organizations
Form Team Partnerships: Actively look for partners in tech companies, healthcare providers, and communities to create inclusive tech solutions.
Increase Awareness and Use: Hold info sessions to explain how technology and patient-centered care can make healthcare fairer and educate communities on using tech tools effectively.
Invest in New Solutions: Put significant resources into developing and using tech solutions that address inequalities and improve healthcare access.
Conclusion: Moving Towards a Future with Tech and Fairness
By admitting the flaws of the old system and embracing tech and a focus on patients, we find our way to better and fairer healthcare. The challenges are big, but the power of tech and a new approach to care are promising. Let’s work together to make healthcare where fairness is real. The journey may be tough, but it’s our shared duty to walk this path and bring in a new day in healthcare.
Denise Johnson, M. D. is an OB/GYN Physician, Health Equity Consultant, Former Physician General of Pennsylvania and a passionate advocate for Health as a Human Right.