Studies on Adoption

I presented to a group of primary care doctors the other day.  I have addressed this group a number of times over the years, though my last presentation was at least five years ago.  The membership of the group has been surprisingly consistent over the past decade, so presenting to them is a pretty good barometer of the state of physician adoption.  They are always vocal, opinionated and clear in their communication. But each time I’ve visited, the theme has varied.

I can remember a time when they were generally quite skeptical of the concept of connected health.  During that meeting, the chorus could be summed up as, “This approach won’t work.  The technology is not reliable enough to be part of a healthcare offering.  My patients won’t use this type of technology.”  Our response was to do proof of concept studies.  We learned many things including how much consumers and patients embrace the connected health care model.

A few years later, when I presented to the group, the concern was one of efficacy and quality of care.  The objection went something like this. “We would need to see more definitive evidence that this approach improves care and does not add to cost.”  We worked on a variety of studies to examine these variables and showed uniformly good outcomes. 

That brings me to the present, and my recent meeting with this group.  During that part of the talk where I was reviewing the data from our randomized controlled trials, one of the doctors stopped me and said, “I don’t think you need to study this anymore.  I’m sure it’ll work.  What would be helpful is to work on fitting it into our workflow and changing the payment model so we can save time in our day for this type of activity.”

What a striking comment. 

It seems like, at the Massachusetts General Hospital anyway, connected health has moved through an adoption curve over the years.  Of course we won’t stop doing proof-of-concept studies.  What seems crazy today will be obvious 10 years from now.  And, we won’t stop doing randomized trials. 

We are working on workflow integration and, based on physician feedback such as this, we may accelerate this effort, while the government and the payers are taking care of the payment model for us.  It feels good to have achieved that level of confidence from our clinicians.   

This next phase will be challenging however, because the need for success is no longer at the demonstration level, but at the enterprise level, and will require a different skill mix.  I’m looking forward to it.