Ed Bennett figures that he’s been a “web-first” guy since, well, nearly the dawn of the internet! It was in 1994 that he decided to quit his job and “make a living in this new thing,” he says.
He started by helping many companies launch their first websites. Then, he led the University of Maryland Medical System’s digital program for 20 years.
Now, Ed is the go-to resource for nearly every healthcare organization leader looking to make a tech purchase. While you may not know his name, you know his website, the MarTech.Health Directory. It’s chock full of hundreds of case studies and thousands of unbiased reviews, tips, and trends that cover everything from AI chatbots to wayfinding.
So, what’s a web-first guy think about how far we’ve come with digital health and where we’re going? He has lots of opinions, and he shared many of them with me in Episode 9 of Healthcare: Simplified, the DeliverHealth Podcast. Let’s look at some of the best ones.
“Instead of having to prove or justify that we’re going to do this digital stuff… now we just need to figure out how.”
Over the past two-plus decades, Ed’s seen the conversation around digital health change drastically. He recalls attending a SHSMD conference back in 2007. “At that time, we [in healthcare] were talking about [topics like] why consider search engine marketing, when everyone else was already doing it,” he says.
Today, hospital and health system leaders know they need technology to create tighter connections between patients and providers. But today’s organizations face a new challenge, he says. “I think that the bigger problem is still the large organizations trying to grapple with all the choices and how to solve their communications problems in a way that makes the best use of digital,” he says.
“To me, the biggest innovation is we’re gonna be focusing on the user experience of a person who’s trying to manage their medical care with a healthcare system.”
To explain why user experience should be top-of-mind for all healthcare organizations, Ed shares a personal story about how he chose to receive care at a larger health system that had a great reputation for being customer focused. “But it’s starting to fall apart,” he says.
His biggest frustration came when he tried to renew a prescription digitally. “I can’t find out what the status is of the doctor approving the renewal,” he says. “I’m getting mixed messages from the pharmacy side about whether it’s been approved or not. I should be able to just go to a status page and see exactly where it is, [and that’s] not happening.”
Ed’s hunch is that this particular health system’s complex prescription process is the unfortunate and all-to-common manifestation of web tools that are built by committees. One way to get around this problem, he says, is for organizations to revitalize their Patient Experience Advisory Councils.
“I’d love to see real, hardcore research into what their patients are experiencing,” he says. “Set up an advisory council that has maybe hundreds if not thousands of patients contributing to it—there are tools out there to do that—and get a real sense of what the problems are from patients themselves.”
“This is a great opportunity to evaluate your solutions for those things and then decide, should I make the jump to this one vendor who can handle all of my needs?”
Our conversation turned to all of the mergers and acquisitions happening in the Health IT space. And while Ed mentions that robust M&A activity makes it harder for him to keep Martech.Health up to date, he also sees it as a prime opportunity for hospitals and health systems.
As an example, he mentions the purchase of Medicom Health’s health risk assessment business by Eruptr in December 2021. “That’s a positive,” he says. “It’s gonna make it a little easier for there to be… sort of like a menu of choices you could look at and say, yeah, this mix of digital is most appropriate for me.”
Bottom line: If your vendor has merged, it’s time to ask them if they can help you manage more things. See how DeliverHealth helps to bridge the mid-revenue cycle and simplify the complexities of healthcare with a robust collection of software and services.
What’s a ‘web-first’ guy think about social media?
My conversation with Ed covered plenty of additional topics. Listen to the whole podcast episode and learn Ed’s take on the rise of physician reviews on hospital and health system websites. You’ll also find out why Ed says social media isn’t living up to its promise.