Guest post by Terry Edwards, CEO, PerfectServe.
Over the past few years, healthcare technology has seen many advances. We’ve achieved mass-market adoption of EHRs, many organizations are making meaningful progress on data aggregation and warehousing information from multiple diverse systems, and wearables and other sensors show much potential to unlock personal information about each patient. The pace of change in healthcare is quickening, with each new technology or initiative sending off a chain of reactions across the entire ecosystem, ultimately improving patient care.
I see three trends driving the industry toward change:
Analytics will help predict population heath management
One of the persistent industry challenges is the “datafication” of healthcare. We’re amassing more and more data now than ever before. And new sources (like wearable devices) and new health factors (like DNA) will contribute even more. This data explosion is putting increased pressure on healthcare organizations to effectively make this data useful by delivering efficiency gains, improve quality of care and reduce overall healthcare costs.
Navigating this digitized healthcare environment will require increasingly sophisticated tools to help handle the influx of data and make the overload of healthcare information useful. In 2016, the industry will begin to take concrete steps to transition to a world where every clinician will see a snapshot of each of their patients to help them synthesize the critical clinical information they need to make a care decision. Moreover, hyper-complex algorithms will allow providers not only to know their patients, but to accurately predict their healthcare trajectories. By giving providers insights into how each patient is trending, clinicians will be able to make better-informed, precise decisions in real-time.
Consolidation leads to new healthcare models, improved outcomes
New models for effective population health management continue to drive change across healthcare systems. These models incentivize stakeholders to optimize costs, identify organizational efficiencies and improve decision-making processes to deliver better care at a lower cost through an emphasis on care coordination and collaboration.
We’re no strangers to consolidation in healthcare, and the trend isn’t going anywhere soon. For many organizations, consolidation is a key strategy to reduce costs, increase efficiency, and pool resources for innovation. Next year, we will see even more players – from providers and payers to pharmaceutical and technology companies – consolidate and expand. As they grow, organizations will form new business models, joint ventures and other initiatives which blur the boundaries among healthcare stakeholders. For example, in 2016, we’ll see more IDNs assume more risk as (or in collaboration with) insurance providers and invest in proprietary technology, and payers and employers will demand increased collaboration to understand and improve employee health.
Rise in patient activation spurs clinical collaboration
Healthcare is a collaborative effort. As patients become more activated in their care, healthcare will see improvements in outcomes, spurring more closely knit clinical and patient collaboration. However, for this to become reality, patients need to understand why their participation in their healthcare is important and understand the value from their engagement. This extends beyond an acute care setting and is part of a patient’s long-term wellness. Moreover, high deductible plans are likely to do more to drive engagement than anything else.
Although the trend of an engaged patient has been percolating for a while, in 2016, there will be a rise in consumer activation in healthcare, where the focus will shift toward empowered and informed healthcare consumers, capable of engineering their futures through the health and wellness decisions they make on a daily basis. Patient satisfaction will become an ever-important metric, and organizations will place more of their attention on improving the patient experience.
This transformation will only heighten the importance of care team collaboration and interoperability. Empowered patients won’t tolerate a fragmented care team, where doctors in different facilities don’t have access to the same patient records, or aren’t aligned on treatment. Providers will need to reprioritize how they work together and share information, both within and outside of the EHR.
Focusing on population health outcomes
The impetus to many of these trends is the need to make real progress on managing the health of our communities. While population health may be an overused phrase with a hundred or so definitions, it also represents our biggest opportunity to alter care models and provide better patient outcomes. In the months ahead, healthcare organizations will continue to fundamentally change care models to focus more attention on keeping healthy patients well and better managing those with chronic conditions to stay out of the hospital.