Steve Jobs talks to me about healthcare disruption

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“What you’re doing is awful,” he says. “This is the opposite of insanely great. It’s insanely horrific.”

This is followed by more colorful, Jobsian language. He actually swears at me. More than once.

I blink and take a breath. This is not what I expected the walk to be like.

“You’ve got it completely wrong,” he says. “You should not be speeding up bad processes, you should be blowing them up.”

I gather some courage and finally speak.

“Steve,” I say. “Most people are not comfortable with change. You need to ease them into it. They need a ramp to get on the freeway. Radical disruption might be great for the cell phone and music industries, but frankly, not healthcare. And especially not health plans.”

Suddenly, Finnegan, our friendly Weimar-Labra-dog, stretches and wakes me up just enough to realize this isn’t real. Steve Jobs and I are not walking through Hyland’s tree-lined campus debating healthcare disruption.

I am a little aggravated. I really want to finish the conversation.

But then I am awake with the idea and the slow locomotive that is my brain lets out an enormous hiss of steam and starts moving. What would Steve Jobs actually say about healthcare and our meandering crawl toward real change?

I think he would tell us that we are on a slow road in the wrong direction and missing the obvious. We need to think bigger.

…And I realize that I agree. I totally, incredibly, magically agree.

Dragging health information management into the 21st Century

We are focused on tweaking the edges of a disintegrating healthcare system. One that can often only deliver information between hospitals and plans using technology patented on May 27, 1843. That’s right, the fax machine received a patent 172 years ago.

And amazingly, it still drives much of the data flowing through our healthcare system.

But let’s not forget about good old paper. Paper was invented around 105 B.C. and is the source material for what we stuff into those fax machines. And into file cabinets, charts, and everything else. My crabby, dream-version of Steve Jobs is right, we are embracing a terrible idea if we think that this is acceptable.

What can disrupt this silly cycle of cellulose?

We need to allow hospitals, clinics, health plans and government to share data and documents via workflows that simply and securely deliver healthcare information from one organization to the other. We need to easily handle exceptions and allow basic collaboration on mutual problems and questions. We need to create a rich, accessible audit trail that would make a bean counter blush.

And we need it yesterday, not in five years.

At Hyland, we have a project underway called Mackinac that will be the bridge from 1843 to today. We’ve been managing documents and automating processes via workflow management within organizations for more than 24 years. With Mackinac, we will take those workflows outside the four walls and radically disrupt the current models for cost, timeliness and quality.

Steve Jobs would be proud. Insanely, incredibly, unbelievably proud.

Prepare for Mackinac. It just might be in your Christmas stocking.

Mike Hurley

Mike Hurley is the industry manager for Health Insurance at Hyland, helping health insurance organizations transform business processes that drive value for members, providers and employees. Mike works with current and prospective customers to use our award-winning product, OnBase, to drive business transformation. He is also responsible for our high-value, high-impact health insurance solutions, the like Mobile Medicare Enrollment Solution for OnBase. Prior to joining Hyland, he was the founder and president of Swim Lane Software, LLC. Hurley founded Swim Lane in 2007 to create a solution that leveraged Software as a Service (SaaS) technology to automate the processing and adjudication of Medicare Claims through unique use Business Process Management (BPM) and Business Rules Management Systems (BRMS) technologies. Preceding Swim Lane, he founded Green Square in 1997 as a national consulting practice that connected technology with business strategy. As a boutique services firm, Green Square was aimed at driving stakeholder value at over 25 BlueCross BlueShield plans in the U.S. Prior to Green Square, Hurley founded Avalon Technologies, Inc., an award-winning systems integrator focused on Enterprise Content Management (ECM), workflow and Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technologies.

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