Balancing High- and Low-Tech Healthcare

Posted by

Healthcare delivery is slowly becoming high tech.  Like other industries, healthcare uses digital technology and the Internet to make healthcare information, and even some diagnostic and delivery services faster and more accessible. 


But healthcare isn’t like booking a hotel room or buying a pair of shoes.  Buying the wrong size boots isn’t a major life situation with possible dire consequences. Simply pack up the boots and send them back, usually for a full refund. No harm done.


The same can’t be said for healthcare information or services. For many people, the Internet has taken on a reputation as an expert, or at the least, a reliable source of information. Consumers use the Internet to locate traditional providers of healthcare services as well. But how reliable and customer-friendly are on-line healthcare sites? David Shaywitz shared his experiences and frustrations with online healthcare services, and more traditional delivery methods, in his article, "Why Not Us?  Time for Better—No Basic—Customer Service in Healthcare."


In Shaywitz’s case, he was merely looking for a pharmacy where he could take his kids for their flu vaccine. While he was able to find a local pharmacy online, once he got there the pharmacist told him his kids were too young and he would have to go to their pediatrician for the vaccine. While the Internet website could find a location, it didn’t have enough information for him to choose the right provider and get the service he needed.


Shaywitz was now at the mercy of conventional healthcare. After leaving messages and a few phone calls with the pediatrician’s office, he got two separate appointments for the flu vaccines. No walk-ins allowed. What started with some Internet surfing for an easy and alternate way to get a simple service ended up in the bureaucracy of traditional healthcare delivery.


He ends his story with some suggestions for better results when blending healthcare with high-tech.


  1. Don’t confuse eHealth with health. What was supposed to be an easy, convenient exercise ended up frustrating and disappointing. When blending high-tech with healthcare, accuracy is not just important, it’s critical. The time wasted chasing a dead end based on Internet information can have serious consequences. Just like traditional healthcare providers, if Internet information isn’t accurate and up-to-date, customers will go elsewhere.
  2. Healthcare remains deficient in customer service. Shaywitz compares getting an appointment with his mechanic to one with a doctor. It’s easier, quicker and its more likely the mechanic won’t make him wait. Just like attention spans are getting shorter, so is the willingness to wait on anything. 
  3. Healthcare providers need to overhaul outdated processes and make healthcare service delivery faster, more efficient, convenient, and customer-friendly. If pharmacies like Walgreens can dispense flu vaccines for walk-up customers, why can’t doctor’s offices do the same? Customers expect the same speed and convenience of  the Internet in conventional service delivery, and they won’t be patient for long.


It may take longer for healthcare to catch up. Some information and services may never be suited—or preferred—for online delivery. The healthcare industry may take longer to break out of traditional molds, but those providers that make the leap will find customers flocking to their doors—and websites. 


Photo Source:


Become a member to take advantage of more features, like commenting and voting.

  • Mary Nestor-Harper
    Mary Nestor-Harper
    Thanks you for the comments.  I can see that the article provoked some strong thought.  The move to high-tech, fast service, unfortunately is what the new generation of consumer, with instant everything at the click of a mouse or tap on a smartphone, is the new expectation.  It will be even more important to healthcare providers to be involved in new technology and delivery methods to safeguard consumers.  Things are changing rapidly, and the future is now.  Consumers are more impatient than ever, and have many more options for healthcare than before.  It will take dedicated, trained and informed providers to balance high-tech with the high-touch service of the past.  Thanks for your comments.
  • Jessica C
    Jessica C
    As a non-practicing but still licensed pharmacist with immunizing privileges, it's important to understand the the pharmacist was absolutely correct to not immunize the children. WE ARE NOT LICENSED or ALLOWED to do this.  However, as I am also a practicing licensed massage therapist with a wellness center, I understand that many need help IMMEDIATELY, which is why my office uses online scheduling for our clients.  I can understand asking the traditional healthcare system to consider this kind of approach. There is a misconception however in this article that all that happens at the pediatrician's office is that they draw up a syringe and give a shot, which can be done as if they were in a drive through line. Physicians (if they are good, which many are) will do a full assessment before the nurse or MD will give a shot (or other treatment). Also, if we train people just to look for CONVENIENCE as the primary endpoint, we are missing the full role a PARTNER in your care provides, if you are not jumping from one convenient doctor or pharmacy to another. And I venture to say that a mechanic working on a car is much less likely to be sued for poor work, and that unless they are extremely inept, the health and welfare of someone is not going to suffer if they don't fully clean out the oil filter. The same is definitely not true with medicine and healthcare. I personally believe that our QUICK, "DO IT NOW, and DO WHAT I SAY" attitude of patients is to the detriment of their own health. Not all individuals can fully understand the complexities of the human body, and to believe that an untrained person knows what is best for them is a false assumption. Being in a more holistic setting now (massage therapy) I am frequently presented with people who are shunning traditional Western medicine. Often I hear them say they are using something "natural", with the assumption that it is good for them, rather than a prescription medicine. The word "natural" alone is enough for them to believe it is better. I often explain to them that carbon monoxide is also a natural substance, but it is not good for them to intake it. I am not disagreeing with our move to INCORPORATE COMPLEMENTARY methods in our healthcare, but I still believe that people should approach their health as a team effort. I worry about our society's push for "quicker" and as this author noted, their unwillingness to wait for anything. In many ways, this hurried attitude will ultimately hurt us all, and the impression that our physicians should conform to their demands for immediate and rushed service could be detrimental to the true meaning of health CARE.
  • Phyllis W
    Phyllis W
    Unfortunately, what people expect from healthcare providers is often a double edged sword.  Everyone wants to be able to walk in without an appointment, then be seen instantly.  All well and good....  However, once we are at the appointment, we do not want the doctor to rush through our visit.  Instead, we want him to be thorough and take all the time he/she needs to diagnose and treat our ailment.Not sure we can have our cake and eat it too .
  • Yolanda C
    Yolanda C

Jobs to Watch