How To Build a High Touch Medical Workforce

October 12, 2016

Biomedical technophiliacs are repeatedly predicting the demise of doctors. They argue that robots and computers will make us obsolete, replacing the core medical roles of thinking, doing and feeling.

Biomedical technophiliacs are repeatedly predicting the demise of doctors. They argue that robots and computers will make us obsolete, replacing the core medical roles of thinking, doing and feeling.

However, as John Naisbitt pointed out many years ago, the US economy consists of two basic segments-high tech products and services and high touch products and services. The growth of one creates opportunities for the other, particularly when it comes to taking care of patients.

Consequently, creating the high touch medical workforce of the future should be about:

1. Changing how we select and develop medical students and postgraduate trainees

2. Eliminating "providers"

3. Moving knowledge technicians to ‘leaderpreneurs’

4. Making technology part of the production crew, not the stars of the show

5. ‘Subsegmenting’ and focusing on innovative ways to deliver user defined value factors like service, price, convenience, accessibility, speed and experience

6. Rewarding those who provide high touch products and services

7. Improving high tech products that are intrusive and disrupt workflow, like the present generation of EMRs

8. Putting quality of service on par with quality of care

9. Using service excellence models from other industries (Amazon, Zappos)

10. Demanding that digital health technologies are safe and effective

The challenge for medical practitioners is to use technology to practice high touch medicine, not make it a substitute for it.