Healthcare Always Has a Why Not – Essential to Focus on the Why To

Posted on December 11, 2017 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of and John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I recently hosted two roundtables at the Digital Healthcare Transformation conference around the topics of IoT (Internet of Things) and Wearables. The discussion at these roundtables was fascinating and full of promise. Although, it was also clear that all of these healthcare organizations were trying to figure out what was the right strategy when it came to IoT and wearables in their hospitals and health systems. In fact, one of the big takeaways from the roundtables was that the best strategy right now was to have a strategy of experimentation and learning.

While good advice, I was also struck by a simple concept that I’ve seen over and over in healthcare:

If you want a reason not to do something in healthcare, you’ll find one.

It’s a sad, but true principle. Healthcare is so complex that if you want to make an excuse find a reason not to do something, then you can easily find it. In fact, you can usually find multiple reasons.

The most egregious example of this is HIPAA. HIPAA has been an excuse not to do more things in healthcare than any other excuse in the book. When someone says that “HIPAA won’t allow us to do this” then we should just start translating that to mean “I don’t want to do this and so I’m pulling my HIPAA card.” HIPAA certainly requires certain actions, but I know of almost anything that can’t be done in healthcare that could still satisfy HIPAA requirements. At a minimum, you can always ask the patient to consent to essentially wave HIPAA and if the patient consents then you’re not in violation of HIPAA. However, in most cases you can meet HIPAA security and compliance requirements without having to go that far. However, if you’re looking for a reason not to do something, just say HIPAA.

Another one I’ve seen used and is much harder is when someone says, “I think this risks the quality of care we provide.” Notice the emphasis on the word THINK. Healthcare providers don’t have to have any evidence that a new technology, workflow, process, etc actually risks the quality of care. They just have to think that it could reduce the quality of care and it will slow everything down and often hijack the entire project. Forget any sort of formal studies or proof that the changes are better. If the providers’ gut tells them that it could risk the quality of care, it takes a real leader to push beyond that complaint and to force the provider to spend the time necessary to translate why their gut tells them it will be worse.

If we focus on the Why Not in healthcare, we’ll always find it. That’s why healthcare must focus on the Why to!

Use the examples of IoT or wearables and think about all the reasons healthcare should use these new technologies. It’s amazing how this new frame of reference changes your perspective. Wearables can help you understand the patient beyond the short time they spend in the hospital or doctor’s office. Wearables can help you better diagnose a patient. Wearables can help you better understand a chronic patient’s habits. etc etc etc. You obviously have to go much deeper into specific benefits, but you get the idea.

What I’ve found is that once you figure out the “Why to” make a change or implement a new technology, then it’s much easier to work through all of the “Why nots.” In fact, it turns the Why Nots into problems that need to be solved rather than excuses to not even consider a change. You can solve problems. Excuses are often impossible to overcome.

I’d love to hear your experience with this idea. Have you seen Why Nots hijack your projects? What are some of the other Why Not reasons you’ve seen? Has the move to asking “Why to” helped you in your projects?