HLM: How does traditional healthcare stack up to other sectors in the use of technology?
CW: Other industries became digital decades before healthcare became digital. Banking, for example, became digital in the 1970s with digital data sharing around money transfers. You've got the digitization of media and retail that occurred around the turn of the century.
Healthcare didn't become digital until just a couple of years ago. We are four decades behind finance and one to two decades behind most other industries that have been transformed through digital technology. You can't create these new business models that we see in banking and retail as well as media if you don't have digital information.
HLM: Why is traditional healthcare a laggard on technology?
CW: It's been a mom-and-pop industry that has been very local in nature and hasn't ever been scaled on a mass basis where leveraging technology for economies of scale made a difference. When you look at traditional healthcare providers, physicians for example, their view was that adding this digital overlay was unnecessary.
It was an overlay in addition to what they would do on a paper basis. They said, 'Look, if you ask me to put digital information into an electronic health record, I will see fewer patients, it will be more cumbersome, and it provides no value to me or the patients. It just provides value to some other higher healthcare systems of organization and so unless you are willing to pay me to digitize this information, I am not going to do it.'
So, what happened with Obamacare is that they created carrots and sticks to create additional information.
Healthcare providers are also very traditional in the way they provide care. They follow what they learned in medical school and medical schools and haven't even been teaching about digital healthcare until the last couple of years.
You have an entire industry that is trained on analog protocols that have never required digital information so nobody knows how to do it.