Kyruus Blog

The Cutting Room Floor: Doctor "Abridgement" and How to Fix It

I've been a fan of audiobooks for quite a long time, since the days when publishers preferred to publish abridged versions of books. That practice drove me absolutely crazy. I wanted to hear the whole book, but a publisher explained to me at one point that customers wouldn’t like the bulk and expense of all the cassette tapes needed for such a product. I could see their point, and yet I didn’t think they were looking at the big picture.

The problem with an abridgment is most easily seen when you finish a book by your very favorite author. I don’t know about you, but I almost always experience that feeling of saying, “Wow, I wish I could read another book that was just like that one.” I think this is why Hollywood puts out so many sequels. People must feel this way about movies as well, so they just redo the same movie over again.

But the thing about an abridgement that is unlike nearly any other publication form is that there really is another book that is just exactly the same book—it’s the other half of the book, the part that was thrown away.

My favorite authors weren’t publishing as fast as I’d have wished, but I wasn’t asking for a miracle, for them to miraculously crank out twice as many books, but just for publishers not to waste the greatness they already had in hand by passing along only half of what was already available. As a regular consumer of audiobooks, I’d rather read five longer books that were my first choice than ten shorter books, half of which were my second choice.

It was a huge step up in my audiobook reading when cassette tapes were replaced by CDs and downloadable MP3s. With this better technology, audiobook publishers could deliver more of what I wanted and less of what I didn’t. The cassette tapes were never something I’d wanted in the first place. I just wanted the stories. The rest was an artifact of the technology of the day. So when technology finally advanced, I was reading the same amount, just feeling happier about the experience—getting more of what I wanted and having to accept fewer substitutes.

There’s an analogy to be made here about the state of our healthcare system…

You see, when a hospital employs a doctor whose schedule is poorly managed, it’s like having an abridged form of that doctor. In some cases, doctors operate at only 50% capacity, even as patients are told there’s no one available.

A given doctor may be very good, but if his time isn’t optimally used, his capacity is quickly exhausted and you find yourself wishing you had another doctor just like him. But you don’t. Except, there is exactly another such doctor, which is the part of this doctor that you wasted by poorly managing his schedule. If only he weren’t offered in abridged form.

As with audiobooks delivered on cassette tapes, the health care system has relied for a long time on some pretty primitive technology. In its day, paper and pencil, paper clips, and even Post-it® Notes were important and even innovative ways of keeping records. But in a dynamic modern office setting, the capacity of these tools is stretched to the breaking point. They are physically cumbersome, hard to duplicate, error-prone, and not easily audited or updated. They become mechanisms for locking in inefficiency and obstructing updates to policies and procedures.

From a patient standpoint, it’s irritating to be stuck on the phone talking to someone who’s thumbing manually through a set of notes, hoping to find a clue about where to refer you. Other times it’s more than irritating, since delays and mistakes in referrals can have tragic consequences.

As if all that weren’t bad enough, when doctors receive poorly qualified referrals, they must start to insist that referrals only come from trusted people. Better to get fewer referrals and have them be qualified than many referrals that are poorly qualified, they reason, perceiving only a choice between two bad options. Not only does this lead to underutilized doctors, but the trusted referrers become bottlenecks further clogging an already inefficient system. All for lack of good technology.

Patients aren’t asking for too much. The delivery infrastructure just doesn’t allow the full product to be delivered. The problem in health care often isn’t that hospitals have too few doctors, it’s just that the method of delivering their greatness is just not up to the task.

It’s not doctors’ schedules that need editing, it’s the inefficient use of obsolete technology.

It’s easy to imagine this would be expensive to fix, but the truth is that it’s much more expensive not to fix. If a hospital has doctors operating at 50% capacity, that means that a $1B (one billion) medical facility could just as well be a $2B facility if it would only stop abridging half of its capacity.

And that’s where my company, Kyruus comes in.

The patient-provider matching tools that we are developing at Kyruus allow hospitals and health systems to benefit from the full, unabridged productivity of the physician by using dynamic data-driven algorithms to route patients to the right providers in a way that reduces operational blockages.

Kyruus technology is easy to use and even dramatically reduces training time of administrative staff, eliminating bottleneck and improving both capacity and responsiveness—all while controlling costs.

Because doctors trust the Kyruus system to help hospitals to make better-qualified referrals, they can be open with their schedules, improving availability and selection.

In the end, it’s patients who benefit from all of this, with shorter and higher quality phone calls, better access to the experts they need, and less bouncing around needlessly.

Being able to access doctors in unabridged form is a big deal, and Kyruus is leading the way.

Topics: Patient Experience Patient Access Provider Networks