As an emergency room physician, Richard Zane often considers how software can help him with patients. The problem is that engineers and doctors are from different worlds.
Zane, who's also the chief innovation officer at UCHealth in Colorado, said that most technologists he's met have never seen the inner workings of a hospital and don't have a deep understanding of what doctors want and need.
"We found that tech companies more often than not had a preconceived notion of how health care worked," Zane told CNBC. They've "gone very far down the path of building a product" without that input, he said.
Zane decided one way to bridge the gap was by inviting in developers from companies to see how he works. For now, that involves monitoring how he uses computers and other software tools to document and make decisions, but keeping them out of the operating environment and away from patient information.
However, "if there were a good reason to do it, like we wanted to build a surgical tool, we would ask patients for their consent," Zane said.
Across the country, as more funding than ever pours into digital health, technologists are realizing that selling to doctors is more challenging than they expected. So spending time with clinicians by observing medical procedures and sitting in on consultations are some of the ways they're getting up to speed.
Big companies are going even further. Apple, for example, is hiring dozens of doctors for their expertise, and others are using experts to help make design decisions and to better understand how to sell into hospital networks.