Providers are struggling to access and utilize information housed in existing EMRs and patient portals in a meaningful way, all while under the gun to shift to value-based care in 2016. Providers are also being bombarded with software options and must decipher if functionality supports a value-based transition or just a specific, limited operational process. And then there is the question of cost: after making a number of required technology investments, care teams may still be struggling to treat patients efficiently. It’s easy to see why providers are suspicious of adding additional technologies.
But a new category of tools is emerging that integrate with existing platforms to support value-based care. As a result, providers are spared a technology overhaul. Three categories of tools are worth a look this year:
Care Management Platform. These platforms can integrate with patient portals, EMRs and other disparate systems to centralize information. Because the entire care team works within the same care management platform, it is able to share information, understand the direction for treatment and monitor patient progress.
Care management platforms function similar to a content management system (CMS) for healthcare; they form a cohesive view of the patient by combining care coordination, patient engagement, clinician and analytics data. As a result, patient data is actionable for clinicians and workflow is more cost and time efficient—especially when treatment involves multiple stages.
Consider the cost involved in this scenario: a heart surgery is cancelled shortly after the patient is admitted, because he is battling a kidney infection. If his physician and cardiologist had been in communication, or at least have been able to see the patient’s status leading up to the scheduled surgery, the hospital wouldn’t have booked the OR and assembled the surgical team and equipment for the procedure. The facility lost the opportunity to conduct the next surgery in the queue. A care management platform prevents this type of miscommunication.
But where care management platforms really shine is in scenarios involving treatment for complex, chronic conditions, like diabetes and cancer. Physicians are better able to track patient progress, engage the care team, spot and address gaps in care. While the conditions may be complex, care teams experience simplicity executing treatment using a care management system, because they can access relevant information and understand how to best use it for patients.
Telemedicine. At its root, telemedicine helps physicians gather information and communicate with patients across a variety of channels, including wireless devices, nursing call centers and patient portals. It is a practice well liked among patients–they feel connected to the physician and are more likely to understand the steps involved in treatment.
Telemedicine platforms have been integrated into the operations of various providers, including hospitals, specialist practices and home health agencies. But these platforms provide greater value when integrated into technology platforms used by care teams, particularly EMRs. Here, too, the result is centralized information, the ability to coordinate and engage patients more effectively and reduce redundancies improve outcomes.
With more efficient collaboration via telemedicine, health care facilities can increase their rate of patient engagement and response time. They may even be able to establish an additional and/or more substantive revenue stream focused on chronic disease.
Analytics. Without data, it is difficult for healthcare providers to improve patient outcomes. But with appropriate analytics, providers can gain insight into population trends, forecast and refocus practice operations to better execute care. With effective crowdsourcing, they can proactively treat conditions affecting a population and lower admission rates, which decreases readmission costs.
When providers are able to see trends, like high incidence of ER use, they are also able to approach patients with less costly, targeted options. Outbreaks of viruses are easier to track and treat as well.
For providers to realize these benefits, however, analytics need to be integrated into existing technology platforms and third parties, including payors and EMRs, to produce insights and give providers the ability to analyze financial trends.
We’ve made great inroads exploring how technology can support healthcare processes. In 2016 and beyond, the industry should be focused on integration to connect the pieces and move forward in a more holistic way.