manner. Unfortunately, the initiative became a euphemism
for moving risk from payer to provider and from provider to
patient. The lesson? Cost shift is not reform. Though a sound
strategic endeavor, population health management lacked
effective execution, as communication didn’t flow freely. It
became a bastardized shell of its noble intent and, therefore,
no longer a visionary strategy.
Oh, the Humanity!
The vision is to integrate digital science (i.e., technology) and
biological science (i.e., best-practice medicine) to augment humanity. Human assistance enhances even the best
computer simulation program. Enhanced judgment by way
of real-time tools enables the human elements of empathy,
ethics, choice, and exceptions to the rules to bring a personalized approach across the continuum of care.
Imagine a world where personalization—think “emotional
connection”—works in collaboration with algorithms to
support evidence-based care decisions. As Swiss designer,
educator, and entrepreneur Yves Behar concluded, “The next
frontier is integrating technology as just an everyday tool”
that serves human needs, rather than viewing technology as
an end in itself.
“Technologies that are changing us these days don’t come
from big engineering labs, they come from technologists.
The cool stuff is coming from humanists. Technology is just
That’s where we, as leaders, figure into the equation. We need
to drive change and progress, and that starts with leading
effective teams. It’s our responsibility to know our staff and
to genuinely recognize their talents and interests so that we
can help them construct career paths that foster learning and
growth. If we demonstrate sincere attention to staff development and the realization of their professional objectives,
we become more than in-house problem solvers. We develop
purpose-driven positive energizers. We become partners in
our own success and the well-being of our patients. Here’s
a notion: Let’s leverage humanity.
“Health isn’t digital. Not at all. But digital health care
makes perfect sense. Health care is a human construction
made up of a series of decisions,
interventions, and outcomes based
on insights, values, and options.
The options are finite, the choices
are discrete, and the outcomes are
I believe that Dr. Smith is evoking
the human traits of skill, intuition,
experience, compassion, and
empathy as a world view. Technol-
ogy as a device exists to make our
lives easy, but it only serves as a foundation. Communication
is the healthcare tool that pushes change.
It would be foolhardy to solely rely on technology for
communication. After all, technology is a tool to help relay
thoughts, lessons learned, education, common sense, and
compassion—the leverage of humanity. In a complex way,
technology is the digitization of leveraged humanity. The data
that we enter into any device is only as good as what we as
humans have collected and coalesced within our own individual humanity and personal experiences.
Technology only puts the bow on the gift that we already
own—our humanity. Technology consists of algorithms that
are devoid of the human experience, and rightfully so. They
drive us to fact-based decisions that make sense, but algorithms are nearsighted. They focus on data that gets us from
A to B. Humanity focuses on the journey.
“The hospitalized patient feels, for a time, like a working
part of an immense, automated apparatus. He is admitted and discharged by batteries of computers, sometimes
without even learning the doctors’ names. If I were a medical
student or an intern, just getting ready to begin, I would be
more worried about this aspect of my profession. I would
be apprehensive that my real job, taking care of sick people,
might soon be taken away, leaving me with the quite different
occupation of looking after machines.” 4
It bears repeating: As physicians, it’s our responsibility
to employ the tools, but to primarily leverage humanity.
We’re as much partners as we are providers. As such,
it’s up to us to break the boundaries and biases of the
Our goal is simple—assure access and clinical reliability
to optimize individual health. The tactical approach is to:
F Transition from office visits to “care touches”
F Move from point of care to “platforms of care”
F Ensure that intelligent order sets augment care team decision support
F Employ telehealth to support small/underserved markets
+ Assess cost avoidance opportunity
+ Balance system resources with local needs
+ When pondering technological applications, consider
a three-year window of available
apps (actionable items will impact
To summarize, we need to make
the leap from traditional care models to population health platforms
that address individual health
Steven L. Delaveris, D.O., is principal,
The Delaveris Group.
1. B.S. Duffy and T.H. Lee. 2018. In-Person Health
Care as Option B. New England Journal of Medicine,
2. Fortune CEO Daily, 2018. Comcast vs. Disney,
China Tariffs, Rolls-Royce Cuts: CEO Daily for
June 14, 2018.
3. J. Smith. 2018. Why Health Isn’t Digital. Forbes
Technology Council, April 27, 2018.
4. L. Thomas. 1982. The Youngest Science: Notes of
a Medicine Watcher. New York, NY: Viking Press.