I’ve often seen people compare the adoption of IT in healthcare with the banking industry’s adoption of IT. Many have wondered why the banking industry (and so many other industries) has adopted IT when healthcare is still sitting here with such low adoption levels. As I’ve thought about the difference, one thing is very clear. Both healthcare IT and banking have/had major challenges in order to implement IT in their industry. Many people have argued that healthcare IT is just more complicated or complex than other industries. There’s no doubt that healthcare IT has some unique challenges. However, I’m not sure they’re any harder than other industries. Resistance to change is a universal characteristic regardless of industry.
So, why has the banking industry adopted IT more quickly than healthcare?
I believe the major difference is that in banking the consumers demanded that banks use IT. How many of you would have gone to a bank if they didn’t provide you access to an ATM? Kind of funny to think about no? Well, ATM cards would have never been possible if it weren’t for IT. The same could be said for online banking. I know that when I moved and was searching for a new bank I wanted to make sure that it had great online banking. Luckily, now online banking is pretty much ubiquitous.
Now let’s think about healthcare. Do you choose a doctor because they use an EMR? Do consumers only go to healthcare providers who will share their patient record electronically? For the vast majority of people this just isn’t the case. Luckily, the PHR movement is going strong. Plus, the day will come when consumers demand online bill pay for their doctors. The time will come when we want to schedule appointments electronically with doctors. We’re going to demand that we get our script refills electronically. We’re going to only go to those doctors who provide e-visits. All of these things will require a great healthcare IT infrastructure and things like an EMR.
Once consumers start demanding these services, we’ll finally see the tipping point for IT adoption in healthcare.