Guest post by Abhinav Shashank, CEO and co-founder, Innovaccer.
The story of Geraldine Alshamy explains how a minor complication in healthcare network can be catastrophic! The patient started experiencing severe headaches, and she was rushed to an emergency room. Since she didn’t have a primary care physician, she had a previous condition of hypothyroidism. But because of a lack of proper communication channel, her care process wasn’t the best that she could have gotten and, unfortunately, she had a heart attack!
This story might seem unusual but enough to understand that the consequences of uncoordinated health care could be grave. Health care is too critical and margin of error doesn’t exist here, it is imperative that we realize the importance of coordinating the healthcare sector and bridge the gaps in care.
Why Coordinated Healthcare?
When patients are brought in to be treated, the thing that physicians, nurses, assistants and other professionals require are the relevant medical information about them. For such a scenario, healthcare providers need to be well connected to provide coordinated care through smooth information flow.
According to a survey, some 40 percent of physicians believe that their patients undergo problems because of lack of coordination and information exchange between providers. The possibility of repetitive tests, unnecessary visits to the emergency rooms and preventable readmissions increases, giving way to poor health outcomes. Inadequate care coordination is estimated to cost as much as $45 billion to the healthcare industry, tagged as wasteful spending — $8.3 billion are lost every year because of inefficient technology.
What is the aim?
With everything around us changing and healthcare picking up pace, it’s high time we start thinking accordingly. The future of healthcare is smart teams aiding the one-on-one patient-physician interaction for better outcomes. These teams have physicians, nurses, financial advisors, health coaches and even family members and watch over patient’s health, follow-ups, and the insurance matters as well.
We have to move beyond the paradigm of isolated partial care towards integrated teams performing comprehensive patient care by encouraging the development of technology and providing care at hand with the center of our focus being:
1.) Accessible Care Anywhere
There used to be a time where people were not as well-connected to each other, and the only way of staying informed was telephones, letters, and postcards. With the evolution of information technology, we can safely share every ounce of information.
We need to put the rapid evolution of information technology to use and have patients connected with their physicians. Real-time alerts, genome sequencing, and data analytics will help us establish a world where patients won’t necessarily have to travel to a particular building and wait for hours to get treated.
2.) Connected Care Networks
Coordinated healthcare will hardly be possible without interoperable technology: teams connecting providers and specialists everywhere with the aim to deliver quality care. And the primary requirement for creating this team would be health information exchange, followed by notifying the PCPs.
In many cases, it was seen that patients were unaware and were surprised to know that their Primary Care Physicians aren’t the ones treating them and were uninformed about their progress. To our advantage, this scenario is changing – 57 percent of all hospitals routinely notify PCPs inside the hospital system, and 30 percent of them notify the ones outside the system.
To avoid fragmented care, we need to develop care networks that are well-connected with 100 percent interoperability. Networks where information easily flow both internally and externally in organizations.
3.) Providing Personalized Care
The main purpose of developing health IT is to understand the fact that every patient is different. At the end of the day, all the developments, treatments and medicines have to be administered to an individual patient. So we need to change our point of view by understanding that patients are not to be dealt with as average, but as individuals. A care team, dedicated solely to their needs and wants and making them feel good mentally and physically is what a patient wants.
With the use of predictive analysis and groundbreaking genome sequencing to come up with a customized treatment plan is actually possible and doesn’t seem far away.
Challenges faced in coordinating health care networks:
1.) Lack of Interoperability
The biggest problem in faced in coordinating health care networks is the presence of non-interoperable technology. More often than not, within the organization, it is a challenge to share information efficiently, let alone with other organizations.
2.) Reluctant patients and state privacy rules
Most patients have been reluctant to share their information, which makes it tough for the new PCP to tackle the cases. Furthermore, stringent laws in some states create a roadblock in sharing data across the state lines.
3.) Lack of incentives
If a healthcare network is going to implement costly health IT solutions, then there should be a proper incentive for them to be motivated to connect health care.Besides this, sometimes there are high data exchange fees involved which negate the profit and viability becomes a question..
4.) Less informed nurses and health coaches
There are times when nurses or health coaches are not aware about the need of the patients and this creates a gap in care. It is thus important that real-time information is available to them for enhanced care delivery.
What Role Does Health IT Play?
If we mean to bring a change of such scale, disruptive technologies have to make their way into the healthcare system. Health IT has been around for a while now, and we have only scratched the surface:
Using data analytics to reduce the guesswork and ambiguity involved in health care.
Developing the field of genomics to boost precision medicines and predictive analysis.
To sustain the momentum of change passive patients have to be engaged along with their families to make them a substantial part of their care-delivery process.
There might be some loose ends to tie when it comes to coordinated healthcare. Imagine a healthcare space where caregivers interact and easily share information with technological aids, the impacts of such charged efforts on entire healthcare community would shift the focus of delivering care from longevity to quality of life. And coordinated services at providers’ end seems like a good way to begin.
All of this revolves around the greater good of patients, why not hit the bullseye?