Dr. Mary Mason, MBA ~ Leadership Speaker & Consultant

Technology is Not Always the Best Answer

Tech is not always the best answer

Call me old-fashioned, but I miss the days of sitting in my doctor’s office and thumbing through patient’s paper medical charts. I liked to quickly flip through the lab sections and previous visits before dictating my new notes at the end of each patient day. I understand the value creation that Electronic Medical Records offer regarding ease of organization, efficiency, data sharing, and trend analysis. However, I long for the days when I could talk to the patient, look them in the eye, and dictate my note after the patient had gone instead of placing a computer screen between us and clicking boxes in the patient record as we interact.

Technology has changed the practice of medicine. In many ways, I learned to take care of primary care patients in an office in ways much more similar to my mother graduating from pediatrics residency in 1958 did than medical students and residents graduating today. In the old days, the doctor-patient interaction revolved around active listening with no technology distractions. In some cases, you might want to scribble down some notes, but I remember many of my professors in the 1990s prohibiting that practice. Yet today, it is unusual for a physician not to be actively typing on an iPad or computer during the patient visit instead of actively focusing on the patient.

While the technology and internet revolution that started in the 1990s has brought about significant advances in communications, productivity, and data collection, has it all been positive in the medical and business world? Or has it created new or more complicated issues than the ones we are trying to use the technology to solve? Here are some tips for heading off potential problems of introducing technology into your workplace.

1. Understand the impact technology has on your customer experience.

Often when a new technology is launched, the focus is on the integration into business processes and existing IT systems, not how it impacts customer interactions. Just like a patient who leaves an appointment feeling their doctor was more interested in completing the electronic patient chart during their allotted time instead of listening to their chief complaint, customers often feel frustrated when a technology wall has been put up between them and a business representative. Instead, consider journey mapping the customer experience with the new technology as a step during implementation. Better yet, secret shop your business processes with the latest technology launched to truly see the experience through the customer’s eyes.

2. Realize that technology is not the answer to all your business issues.

In today’s world, there will always be vendors who will want to sell you a technology solution for a business problem. And sometimes, these are problems that you may or may not have. The sales pitches for these IT vendors like to use phrases like “competitive advantage,” “improved customer engagement and satisfaction, “and “greater visibility to make data-driven decisions .”And while this may hold some truth, it is important to understand how this impacts your established customer entry points and interactions before jumping ahead. You must do this as a business yourself, not rely on the vendor to gloss over the impact. For example, perhaps having a real person answer the phone instead of having an AI-generated greeting and “call center process” may be the best answer for your customers.

3. Understand how your customers engage in technology.

A common mistake businesses make is to assume that all customers engage in technology equally. Another mistake is to think that your customers similarly engage in technology iin the same way as the business decision-makers. For example, while a customer in their 50s or 60s may have the latest, top-of-the-line I-phone, they may not be excited or motivated to download and engage in the newest app from their health insurance company or for their family trip to Disney World. And if no alternative is available for customer engagement besides the newly launched technology solution, this can create unanticipated issues for a business, leading to a dissatisfied and angry customer who will switch to a company that does things “the old-fashion” way.

While technology in the patient and business offices has brought numerous advances in efficiencies and costs, fully understanding the downfalls and pitfalls that new technology solutions can create is critical to businesses in any field and of any size. Some processes might be best handled the “old-fashion” way with a real person involved. Jumping to the conclusion that a technology answer is always superior can be a dangerous assumption in the business world.

You might also enjoy

Crisis Management 101

Crisis Management 101

After being caught up in the Southwest holiday cancellation debacle, I experienced firsthand how important it is for a company to be ready to act when the unexpected happens. Just