Podcast: Robert Thorn, Director at Pinnacle Healthcare Consulting
Robert Thorn, MBA, FACHE is a Director at Pinnacle Healthcare Consulting, a national firm based in Centennial, Colorado. In his position, he brings more than 25 years of experience in healthcare strategy, business development and operations. Robert’s areas of specialization include Transitional Leadership and Healthcare Strategy, community needs assessments and “all things rural health.” He also provides leadership guidance and support for telehealth programs and fair market value guide development.
Prior to joining Pinnacle Healthcare Consulting, Robert founded and was CEO and Principal at Summit Healthcare Strategies, where he served rural healthcare organizations in both interim CEO and strategic consulting roles.
Thorn speaks to us this week on the transition to value-based care, and particularly how we can maintain humanity and empathy in a tech-driven healthcare system.
Below are a couple highlights from our interview, but be sure to listen and subscribe to The Patient's Journey podcast, linked at the bottom of the page.
What kind of technologies or changes do you think will persist post-COVID? How do you think that’s going to change the role of the hospital?
I think the role of the hospital is going to change over time from being an illness model to a proactive approach to wellness, particularly when it comes to chronic conditions. I think you’ll see the hospital’s severity index for patients go up in the future: why bring someone into a very costly environment to receive care if they don’t need to be there? As much as I enjoy hospitals, and really, I eat at hospitals almost every day, it’s not the same as getting a home cooked meal. Getting the patient to the right environment is critical, and COVID has shown us that we can provide a high standard of care outside of traditional hospital environments. There is a lot of progress going on right now surrounding the care-at-home model where acute care patients are supported by technology and people at home.
However, one point I want to make sure to make is that technology is not a substitute for hands-on care. We can’t forget the humanity of healthcare. People go into healthcare for a particular reason– to care for people. As we transition into a model where hands-on care is going to be saved particularly for those that are the sickest, we need to find ways to keep the humanity in healthcare front and center in the midst of all the technology.
It’s interesting that you bring up the humanity side of care. Last year we spoke with Dr. Jack Lewin, Chairman of the National Coalition on Healthcare, and he emphasized the importance of empathy within medicine. Do you worry about the increasingly digital experience of healthcare diminishing the human connection and empathic side of healthcare? How can we retain that connection?
We definitely have to be careful and conscious of walking that line. If someone walks into a doctor’s office and didn’t previously register online, we have to provide other equally simple registration options for them. Technology isn’t always the most accessible avenue for patients. I think that the older generations are used to one type of model of care, and younger generations have already adopted the more tech-centric care models. Younger generations are more ok talking to a screen, whereas an older patient might require more of a learning curve to get there. We need to consider the variable needs of the entire patient population and give them care in a way that’s accessible for them.
The Patient's Journey on Apple Podcasts
Health & Fitness · 2021
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