January 19, 2022

We Want to Elevate Humanity in Healthcare. Here’s Why.

Chris Little

We stay true to our Purpose.

In 2004, my close friend and workmate, Tom, died of cancer at the young age of 48. In his final months, we met almost daily, often going for walks and talks, until he could no longer walk, and then no longer talk. On occasion, I arrived at his home to find him embroiled in a telephone call with his health insurer and/or healthcare provider, working through billing discrepancies so that his soon-to-be widow wouldn’t have this extra burden in her time of intense grief. I remember thinking what a tragic irony it was that he – a skilled process and software engineer – was spending his dying moments working through such discrepancies, primarily caused by poorly designed processes and technology.

Our consulting company, SingleStone, was founded in 1997 with the purpose to elevate humanity in business because this is better for people and better for business. In line with this purpose, we design process and technology solutions so that users have precisely the opposite experience to Tom’s. Instead, we ensure people encounter convenience, ease, accuracy, efficiency, and most importantly, a feeling that their providers (or employers) care about them, genuinely want to help, and are sincerely committed to delivering positive and enabling experiences.

We do hard things. So, why not healthcare?

After witnessing Tom’s frustration with often unsuccessful telephone calls, that were also stressful for the person on the other end of the phone, I decided to explore if SingleStone could help the healthcare industry create and implement human-centric solutions. These solutions would result in cost-efficiencies for businesses and vastly improved experiences for all persons involved in the system: patients, family members, provider staff, insurer staff, etc. With many large clients in financial services and other industries, I was confident in the relevance of our experiences and skills, but conversations with most prospective healthcare clients stalled primarily because “you don’t have healthcare experience.” A better salesperson might have had more success. As CEO, I chose to focus on our existing industries, trusting that those with healthcare experience would resolve these problems soon enough.

Almost two decades later, we still hear of similar breakdowns that cost healthcare businesses lots of money through inefficiencies and errors, while producing frustrating, confusing, friction-filled, and stressful experiences for all involved. The COVID-19 crisis illuminated some glaring inadequacies of the healthcare industry across all stakeholders. In a September 9 letter from the American Hospital Association to Anthem CEO Gail Boudreaux, the organization stated, “Patients are facing greater hurdles to accessing care; clinicians are burning out on unnecessary administrative tasks; and the system is straining to finance the personnel and supplies.”

Just this week, I found a discrepancy between how my insurer and my provider classified a recent claim. I had to make two calls, involving long wait times, to help resolve it. In this case, the insurer misclassified the provider as “out of network,” resulting in an erroneous patient bill. I found myself again wondering, how can we change the industry for the better? How do we transform it so that patients aren’t tasked with proactively monitoring and defending against a broken system?

We have hope.

Despite the pandemic, the industry has incrementally improved. However, healthcare still lags behind other industries when it comes to user experience, when, of all industries, healthcare should be a leader. Customers are not choosing between an iPhone and an Android or a Honda and a Ford, but instead between radiation and chemotherapy, or between an affordable remedy that might work and an unaffordable remedy with higher odds of success. People are making decisions about their health – even their survival – and the industry owes it to them to ensure that process and technology serve as enablers – not inhibitors – during these challenging, high-stakes life events. This is true for healthcare workers too, whose capacity to provide high-quality cognitive and emotional care is often undermined by avoidable inhibitors and distractions.

We keep people at the heart of our problem-solving.

Since these problems persist in healthcare, it’s clear the industry would benefit from an outside perspective and best practices from industries that are ahead in user experience design and backend technologies that enable high-quality user experience. We respect that there are differences across industries, alongside the many similarities. Over the last 24 years – in partnership with our clients who know their industry, customer, product, and culture – we’ve delivered exceptional user experiences and business results through our deep technical competencies combined with a human-centric approach to problem-solving and design.

If you are seeking to transform the healthcare experience, and incremental improvements are not yielding the outcomes you desire, we would be honored to help. What is the one problem that if you could, you would instantly solve tomorrow? In a complementary work session, employing Design Thinking and other techniques, we will help you brainstorm and ideate additional ways to see this problem and solve it. Let’s partner together to take healthcare to new heights – and ensure Tom’s final phone calls were not in vain.


Chris Little

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