“Time, time, time, see what’s become of me,
While I looked around,
For my possibilities…”
– Paul Simon
My previous blog entry covered the promise of Obamacare arising from the digitization of healthcare records. However, there is also much to be concerned about from this sweeping new law. Specifically, as 23 million newly insured people gain healthcare insurance by 2016 the system is estimated to have a deficit of 62,900 physicians by 2015.
This corresponding influx of patients and physician shortage is a recipe for severe degradation in healthcare quality. There simply is not enough time in the day to service an incremental 8% of the population. Physicians’, nurses’ and other caregivers’ time is already stretched. In addition, with the advent of EMRs, some of the time spent dealing with patients must now be used for data entry, further exacerbating a time-crunched day. A physician or nurse must find easier, more efficient ways to gather and transmit information to others in order to free up time.
We spend much of our time at TigerText thinking about how caregivers spend their time. Healthcare still relies on many 20th century forms of communication for its daily workflow. Specifically, the use of pagers and tracking people down through phone calls chew up an incredible amount of time in the daily lives of caregivers. In a 2006 study, Forrester Research estimated that Nurses waste up to 1 hour of their day trying to track down physicians to line up a voice call. Pagers also do not inform the Nurse that the physician has picked up their page leaving them in an ambiguous state of inaction.
There are many aspects of treating a patient that require two people to sync up verbally. Nevertheless, there is a great deal of information exchange that can be accomplished more efficiently. This is why asynchronous communications like email and SMS have become so popular. I send a message and you pick it up and respond when you are free as opposed to interrupting what you are doing to speak with me.
Taking this one step further, with powerful smartphones that over 80% of physicians now carry, you have the ability to transmit richer forms of communication (as opposed to just text) to others instantly. To that end, we have spent the last several months developing and are introducing today the ability to send Audio and Video notes via TigerText. As healthcare information is often polysyllabic and complex, autocorrect on smartphones can cause errors and slow down typing. Now with the TigerText Audio Note, you can simply record a message and send it to a recipient so they can listen in your own voice, saving precious time.
Our CTO Sumeet Bhatia’s wife is a pediatrician at a local children’s hospital in Los Angeles. Recently, a boy came to her presenting with an unusual muscular disorder that prevented him from standing. Wanting to get a third party to consult from her time-constrained pediatric neurologist, she videotaped the child’s malady with the permission of the parents. However, due to HIPAA laws, she was unable to send the video via secure email for several days until the hospital and the parents signed yet another release. We believe that instantly transmitting a TigerText Video Note to a fellow physician’s phone, tablet or desktop computer will prove invaluable in arriving at a timely diagnosis, reduce costs and provide better outcomes.
Healthcare is shifting in ways that will require much adaptation from both healthcare systems and caregivers. We think this is an amazing time to bring simple technology into the daily workflow to make things materially better for physicians, nurses and ultimately patients. In turn, we can give back more time for quality face-to-face interaction.