By Steve Simmons, marketing and business analysis manager, eCare Vault.
Care coordination by definition is a strategy that is focused on bringing together the multiple parties of a patient’s care team to knock down barriers of communication in order to enable the best outcomes for your patients.
However, by doing so, your healthcare organization stands to see significant savings on your bottom line. Here are a few ways we’ve seen care coordination can nurture the financial health of your organization:
Reducing Unnecessary Additional Treatments
When providers aren’t on the same page the result is additional tests and treatment for patients that could have been avoided otherwise. Gaps of information in patient care are common since providers across separate organizations rarely communicate with each other on what types of care they are providing for their patients.
As a patient, very rarely will you go against the advice of a physician or specialist, as their job is to provide you with the care to live as healthy of a life as possible.
This drives up costs exponentially across the entire continuum of care, and subsequently, providers and patients end up spending more for treatment that could be avoided in the first place. Proper coordination across multiple organizations can help patient care team members collaborate on the exact types of care and testing that is being administered to patients, helping to streamline the care that patients receive and reduce costs across altogether.
Reducing Physician Burnout To Preventing Costly Staff Turnover
With less communication and collaboration, physicians, nurses, practitioners, caregivers, and allied health professionals are forced to work and operate in silos, the consequences of which can affect not only the financial health of the clinic but the type of care patients receive.
The added stress and decrease in personal achievement for all roles mean less motivation and more cognitive impairment, which leads to a lesser quality of care, mistakes in care, and worse outcomes for patients. For organizations, burnout eventually results in staff either quitting or being fired for inadequate performance, which means recruiting, hiring and training new staff.
The costs associated with this can range from $2,500 or even more than $100,000 for higher-level positions within the clinic, hospital, home healthcare agency and every place in between.
Care coordination helps prevent this, as it empowers meaningful working relationships both internally and across organizations, helping multiple care team members strive toward the goal of providing the best care for the patient or client.
It allows your staff to break free from redundant work that can be accomplished in a fraction of the time, streamlines workflow management, and reduces operational inefficiencies across the board – giving your employees the power to operate at the top of their license, saving your organization thousands to millions of dollars of budget in the process.
There is much hype with regards to the use of blockchain technology in the field of healthcare due to its distributed ledgers. Many organizations have disappointed with the use of blockchain because of incomplete or partial knowledge. According to the experts, the blockchain development solutions are the future of the global healthcare industry. Many experts are involved in the experiment to implement the technology in the various healthcare departments. The following are the various predictions offered by the blockchain according to the experts in future.
The wait is over. Let’s jump into the interesting predictions for the growth of blockchain from expert’s perspective
Blockchain will become an important part of the management in the healthcare industry to enable the sharing of information. Data is currently stored in the electronic health record system based on various individuals. Blockchain technology will enable the storage of the patient’s data which will enable the data exchange and treatments and privacy preferences on the blockchain. This will allow data to be accessed by the various stakeholders and officials.
Tokenization of the non-cash assets
A token can represent anything like real estate information, a physical object and also an outcome. The tokens will be able to help the officials manage the various results of the healthcare industry from the end of the institutions as well as patients. Tokens are used to reduce the burden of the experts and also help enhance the patients care as well as medications.
Under the value-based care system, the providers will reimburse the wellness of the patients not for the quality but the care of the patients. So, it will become easy to use the process to make universal payment interfaces that will help patients make micropayments. This will also help organizations achieve the desired goals or outcomes and enhance innovations. Similarly, the tracking of the co-operative pays and the share of the medical expenses could be able to simplify the blockchain payment interface. It provides the opportunity to the organizations to buy the outcomes from the service providers.
To store and maintain the directories of the healthcare industry is a very critical task. The organizations have to keep the data up to date and also have to face the complex issues related to the patient’s data. To handle and manage the paperwork, the personnel need proper training and should possess the ability to understand the various aspects and important features. But blockchain provides a user-friendly environment that can simplify the usage of the system.
Electrical usage reductions
The blockchain technology will help you to reduce the electricity requirements, and it also helps enhance the speed and scalability of the system in the big concerns. It increases the transaction speed to enhance efficiency and reduce the cost of the transactions. Blockchain provides proof of work approaches to lessen the consumption of the electricity in data collection, storage, processing and other tasks.
If you want to know about the use cases that blockchain revolutionized healthcare industry, stay tuned until the end.
In many cases, it becomes difficult to track the various activities of the medical suppliers like pharmacies. The Blockchain approach will help healthcare track the products from the suppliers to the specific receivers whether they are healthcare institutions or the patients. This helps the healthcare institutions to ensure the integrity of the various products as well as different pharmacies.
The healthcare circles in the United States are reeled up by debates around the need for price transparency.
The federal agencies are coming up with regulations.
Healthcare associations are weighing in their concerns.
Physicians, patients, and economists – everyone is articulating the pros and cons in a rather plausible manner.
Wait. What has triggered this rush towards transparency?
To begin with, the healthcare costs across the country have gone from “extreme” to “unreal” in the last two to three decades. A regular MRI scan, for instance, costs twice as much as it does in Switzerland, another country where healthcare is considered “notably expensive.”
Worse still, one simply cannot tell how much money they might end up paying at a healthcare facility at any given point. A broken bone can take thousands of dollars to get fixed or at no cost at all – depending on a dozen factors that can vary drastically with each patient.
Frankly, there is no single moment that burst the bubble around the soaring healthcare costs. In many cases, what hurt patients more than the total cost of a procedure is the out-of-pocket expense that they are made to pay. The focus today has shifted to one fundamental question – how much money is justified for a given care procedure; and are we entitled to know it or not?
Cut to 2019, a movement to make care prices transparent is shaking the establishments across the US.
What is the government saying?
The government has taken the onus of ensuring transparency in healthcare prices. Last month, the White House issued an executive order aimed at making payers and providers publish the cost of each procedure available at their facility. The government believes that this step can get a long way in making patients take more informed decisions regarding their health and eliminate the opacity regarding the cost associated with such processes beforehand.
The intent here is to provide patients “access to useful price and quality information and the incentives to find low-cost, high-quality care,” something that can be a giant leap forward in the direction of enabling cost-effective care.
Binary Fountain released the findings of its 2019 “Healthcare Consumer Insight & Digital Engagement” survey. With the goal of getting an updated view into how patients search, evaluate and share their experiences with their providers, the survey, conducted by OnePoll and commissioned by Binary Fountain, shows patients’ continued dependence on online ratings and review sites and increased trust in social media to make informed healthcare decisions.
Patients Depend on Online Reputation More Than Ever When Choosing a Physician
The survey shows that consumers rely heavily on online ratings and reviews when choosing a provider. According to this year’s survey results:
75% of respondents are influenced by online rating and review sites when selecting a provider.
In fact, 60% of consumers check the ratings and reviews of a provider, even when referred by another provider, up 44% since 2018.
80% of respondents believe online provider ratings and reviews are “somewhat” to “very” reliable.
Additionally, only 9% of respondents in 2019 selected they “do not use any websites or online platforms” when selecting a provider. By comparison, 48% of respondents selected this answer in 2017, representing an 80% increase in Americans using some form of online website or platform to choose a provider.
Of the respondents that have utilized ratings and review sites when searching for a provider, 53% selected Google as a primary source, followed by a hospital and/or facility’s website (48%), Facebook (45%), Healthgrades (42%) and Instagram (28%).
More Consumers Are Using Social Media for Provider Searches
This year’s survey results also found that consumers are increasingly utilizing social media channels to find providers. For instance, 51% of consumers use social media platforms to search for a provider, a 621% increase from Binary Fountain’s 2017 survey results.
In particular, Facebook saw a 264% increase from 2018 to 2019 in its use to help patients find a provider.
Other social media platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat have seen a 550% and 365% increase, from 2018 to 2019, respectively.
Likewise, specialized listing sites like U.S. News & World Report (536%), ShareCare (454%) and ZocDoc (359%) continue to gain more traction year-over-year.
More Patients Are Sharing Their Healthcare Experiences through Social Media
When asked “what online platform(s) have you ever used to share your provider/hospital experiences,” respondents selected Facebook (57%) as the leading platform, followed by Google (49%) and a tie between hospital and/or facility website and Healthgrades at 40%. The 2019 survey results also revealed:
All social media platforms, besides Facebook, have more than tripled the amount of provider/hospital online feedback they had received in 2017.
In fact, Google has seen a 319% increase in sharing provider/hospital experiences on its platform since 2017.
Similarly, Instagram has seen a 506% increase in sharing provider/hospital experiences since 2017.
Finally, Facebook has seen a 170% increase in sharing provider/hospital experiences on its platform since 2017.
Furthermore, only 5% of respondents mentioned they “don’t share feedback on online platforms” in 2019, a stark contrast to the 69% of respondents that selected that answer in 2017.
Healthcare Consumers Seek Digital Scheduling
The survey shows that consumers are increasingly looking to digital devices to schedule appointments. The survey results revealed:
A majority (60%) of Americans say they have used an online search engine to look for a provider, a 60% increase from the 2017 survey results.
In fact, 29% of respondents have booked appointments directly from a provider’s website, a 100% increase from 2018.
Making appointments by phone has decreased by 45% since 2018. However, 47% of consumers still make appointments by phone, making it the leading method for booking healthcare appointments today.
Use of voice search capabilities to find physicians has made a significant leap with 30% of respondents selecting voice assistant devices (i.e., Siri, Alexa, Google Home, etc.) as a source, an increase of 756% since 2018.
Based on the above findings, it is critical for healthcare providers to verify and ensure their contact information is accurate and up-to-date across all online listings and third-party websites.
LocumTenens.com announced the results of its study, Locum Tenens Engagements: Strategies, Usage and General Attitudes. The 2019 survey measures the perception and attitudes of hundreds of clinicians and healthcare executives and administrators across the United States about healthcare industry issues, priorities and staffing solutions.
Positive Perception of Locum Tenens Staffing
A central theme in the research is the progression of locum tenens from solely a short-term measure to address gaps in staffing, to now a core part of the long-term strategy within today’s healthcare organizations. Healthcare executives and administrators alike reported strong regard and consideration for long-term locums assignments within their facilities over the next 12 to 24 months.
According to the study, improving quality of care and the patient experience, as well as meeting increased demand for patient services and retaining physicians, were identified as the top strategic priorities for healthcare organizations over the next 12 to 24 months. Locum tenens helps healthcare facilities—whether large health systems, regional hospitals, rural facilities or clinics—address all of these.
“The role of locum tenens has evolved from an option that in the past was used during times of crisis to now a foundational part of a healthcare organization’s strategic business model,” said Chris Franklin, president of LocumTenens.com. “Locum tenens directly addresses many current challenges, including making medical specialists accessible to rural areas, enabling fractional staffing on demand to meet peak workforce needs, and giving clinicians flexibility and control of their schedules.”
Key takeaways from the Locum Tenens Engagements: Strategies, Usage and General Attitudes study include:
The American Medical Association (AMA) announces the release of the 2020 Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) code set containing identifiers and descriptors assigned to each medical, surgical, and diagnostic services available to patients. Trusted since 1966 as the health system’s common language, the CPT code set enables accurate reporting, measurement, analysis, and benchmarking of medical services and procedures across the nation’s entire health care system.
“An annual editorial process draws insight from the entire health care community to produce practical code enhancements to CPT that support advancements in technology and medical knowledge available for the care of patients,” said AMA president Patrice A. Harris, M.D., M.A. “This capacity ensures reliable codes are available for burgeoning tech-enabled services and affirms CPT as the trusted code set for efficiently sharing accurate information about medical services and procedures. That’s why we believe CPT serves both as the language of medicine today and the code to its future.”
There are 394 code changes in the 2020 CPT code set, including 248 new codes, 71 deletions, and 75 revisions. In making these updates, the CPT Editorial Panel considered broad input from physicians, medical specialty societies and the greater health care community.
Among this year’s important additions to CPT are new medical services sparked by novel digital communication tools, such as patient portals, that allow health care professionals to more efficiently connect with patients at home and exchange information. CPT has responded by adding six new codes to report online digital evaluation services, or e-visits. These codes describe patient-initiated digital communications provided by physician or other qualified health care professional (99421, 99422, 99423), or a non-physician health care professional (98970, 98971, 98972).
Other coding additions to CPT were prompted to better support home blood pressure monitoring that aligns with current clinical practice. CPT added codes (99473, 99474) to report self-measured blood pressure monitoring. The goal of these codes is to expand reporting pathways for physicians across the country who take care of a diverse set of patients that have varying degrees of access to care.
“With the advance of new technologies for e-visits and health monitoring, many patients are realizing the best access point for physician care is once again their home,” said Dr. Harris. “The new CPT codes will promote the integration of these home-based services that can be a significant part of a digital solution for expanding access to health care, preventing and managing chronic disease, and overcoming geographic and socioeconomic barriers to care.”
Whether it’s using FaceTime to catch up with friends across the country or web conferencing in the workplace to save the time and cost associated with business travel, video has become pervasive in almost every aspect of our everyday life. But there is one major exception: healthcare. While there is great promise in telehealth, the healthcare industry has been slow to adopt video solutions – even when the demand clearly exists.
Three-quarters of consumers say they want the same experience in healthcare that they get from other businesses, according to “The Consumerization of Healthcare” survey by Econsultancy. About 60 percent of individuals under age 55 say they would consider it “life changing” or “very useful” to use video chat instead of going for a routine in-person visit with their provider. And an equal number indicate they would be very likely to switch to a provider that offered video appointments and online booking, among other consumer-friendly options.
So what’s holding healthcare providers back from integrating video into their practices? Much of the hesitancy revolves around reimbursement and perceived complexity.
Under Medicare rules, telehealth services are typically reimbursable only if they are provided for beneficiaries who live in certain rural or underserved areas. And for non-Medicare patients, reimbursement is not uniform; the amounts depend on the local jurisdictions and what individual insurers will pay. While providers truly want to provide more remote services, the inconsistencies and varying rules for how they can be reimbursed have resulted in providers taking a cautious approach to implementing these offerings.
But worrying only about what can be billed is also short-sighted. The value in telehealth goes far beyond that. Instead of focusing only on reimbursement, consider the big picture. Factor in the ease and convenience for both the patient and the provider. Think about how telehealth can improve health outcomes by increasing patient engagement, not just access to care. Start using telehealth now and take advantage of reimbursements that are available today, depending on local payers and their rules. This positions practices — and patients — to be familiar with the technology and to capture additional reimbursements that will inevitably become available in the future.
A Focus on Simplicity
Early adopters of telehealth solutions have tended to overbuy for what they need, focusing on point solutions, and likely aren’t considering if, or how, they integrate with other productivity solutions used within the practice. Other providers are scared off by the high price tag of dedicated telehealth platforms, as well as the complexity for both patients and practitioners of using them for remote service offerings.
It’s no secret that healthcare is undergoing a transformation. One doesn’t need to be an industry insider to recognize it. A mere press release issued by Amazon can move markets like never before. Last September, Apple equipped Apple Watch 4 customers with the ability to take an ECG, a feature that AliveCor released two-years earlier through rigorous R&D with the FDA clearance of the Kardiaband. AliveCor recently pulled Kardiaband from the market. And earlier this week reports of tumult within Apple’s health team leaked to the press, citing tensions rising over differing visions for the future.
The current pace of change in healthcare has brought volatility with it. And while healthcare and volatility don’t typically mix well, the fundamentals of the market are supporting much greater tolerance for it, perhaps greater than any other time in modern history, and for good reason. Population demographics are shifting dramatically. According to Jonathan Vespa, a demographer with the U.S. Census Bureau, “within just a couple decades, older people are projected to outnumber children for the first time in U.S. history. It will be a very long time before this trend shifts direction, if ever. As featured in a recent Washington Post article, the combined growth of the retirement population and decline in young workers is playing a central role in labor shortages seen around the country.
To understand this challenge within the context of healthcare, technology and innovation, one only need to look within the walls of any major hospital system. An aging population requires complex medical care. Complex medical care is not only expensive (especially in the U.S.) but requires providers to act and think in a multi-focal manner. After all, care is delivered by doctors, nurses, therapists, social workers, family members, and countless other clinicians and caregivers. The system requires a balance of supply and demand between patients and caregivers. This need can only be met with a healthy pipeline of highly skilled, and experienced clinicians within the system (until the robots takeover that is). Yet according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Employment Projections (2016-2026), healthcare workforce demand will outpace supply by 2025.
Above and beyond the issues of quantity, the clinical workforce shortage is greatest among the highly skilled — a challenge that is less discussed but well understood by those who work within the system. As America is aging so are the providers of care who are now looking at their own retirement plans. While exciting for them, it is terrifying for the rest of the population. Think of a water leak that begins as a slow drip and turns into a steady stream of water. In short, knowledge, experience and intuitive practice is leaving our healthcare system.
The traditional methods that healthcare uses in its approach to training and education are inadequate. It is no longer acceptable for evidence-based practice to migrate into clinical practice over a span of 10 to 15 years. New providers must develop core competencies and resilience much quicker, and existing practitioners need effective ongoing professional development solutions to meet higher quality standards. Addressing this challenge isn’t easy.
Healthcare leaders are exploring innovative methods of learning, such as virtual reality (VR), that support faster adaptation of knowledge and skills into the clinical practice, standardization to reduce variation in quality, and development of muscle memory to decrease burnout and nurture resilience.
According to the World Economic Forum’s 2018 Future of Jobs Report, 67% of healthcare organizations will adopt VR in some capacity over the next several years. Virtual and augmented reality will transform the way in which clinicians and caregivers gain knowledge, acquire skills and practice care delivery throughout their career.
In an op-ed published last year, former Senate Majority Leader, physician and entrepreneur, Bill Frist, MD, recalls his experience as a medical student.
“See one, do one, teach one. It was the best we had at the time. But is that really the best, or safest, way to learn? Or do patients deserve more? Experience matters. Things we actually experience stay with us in a way that things we are simply told, taught, or observe do not … VR is no longer just a source of gaming entertainment. Over the past 12 months, astounding technological advances coupled with seismic shifts in our healthcare sector toward value-based care are opening the door to its effective clinical use … It holds particular promise for accelerating medical education.
VR technology is a force multiplier in transferring knowledge to practice. While traditional educational and training resources sacrifice efficacy for scalability, VR offers an affordable digital alternative that is both scalable and efficacious. And a growing body of research shows that procedural, anatomical and medical knowledge acquired during VR simulation is on par with traditional teaching and simulation lab environments. A University of Maryland study found that individuals had an 8.8% improvement overall in recall accuracy using a VR headset compared to two-dimensional platforms.
By Jane Byrne, care project coordinator, Firstcare.
As technology advances, robots might be able to fill in the gaps when it comes to caring for the elderly in the near future. According to films such as “Robot and Frank,” robots might be used as caregivers in the near future. The films show that robots can carry out activities that humans can do, such as cooking and cleaning. Researchers believe that robots could be a better way of taking care of the elderly who are increasing in number day after day.
Mobile robotic telepresence systems have implemented a social robot that can provide positive social interaction with the elderly. Social robots can be controlled remotely using smartphone apps. The robots have been installed with video screens that allow the relative and social worker to interact with the elderly at any time. The mobile robotic telepresence systems thus enable communication between the elderly patient and other people through a computer screen. However, this type of social robot still requires someone to operate it for it to function.
Systems such as telecare have had their place for years, and we’re now seeing new and improved technologies come through which help to keep our residents safer. The aim is not to remove the human touch, but to increase patients’ overall quality of care, technology can actually increase the time we can spend with each patient, by removing tasks such as monitoring and non-critical tasks.
Developers around the world have been trying to come up with a robotic companion who is programmed with advanced artificial intelligence. This type of intelligence will allow the robot to interact with people without requiring someone to operate it; that is; the robot will be able to interact with people on its own. Examples of these companion robots include Paro and Airo. Other robots have been built to provide a more comprehensive and complex care, such as robots include Pepper and Care-O-Bot.
Paro social robots are used in Australia care homes for therapeutic purposes. The robot usually interacts by moving its wide eyes, head and flippers, or even producing certain sounds in response to certain touches. This type of robot is also used in Europe, parts of Asia and the United States.
By George Mathew, chief medical officer, North America, DXC Technology.
Consumer technology has given rise to 21st century digital citizens who are reinventing their lifestyles ? one smart device at a time. They are also reinventing healthcare.
The 21st century digital citizen monitors their daily calorie intake, sleep patterns and heart rate during exercise. They have used a DNA testing service to access their genetic information, and they know their risk level for conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease or cancer. They have become empowered consumers of healthcare.
Healthcare organizations are exploring ways to capture this new wave of patient-generated data, integrate it with other clinical and non-clinical data sources and gain insights into improving health management for individuals and populations. The key will be to create a digital foundation that can radically improve data flow and deliver contextual, actionable insights across the entire healthcare ecosystem.
21st Century Outcomes
Consumerization has made it possible to get a more complete picture of what patients need to better manage their health, and to provide care beyond the walls of a hospital or clinic. Insights can be gleaned from a variety of internet of things (IoT) devices ? from cameras linked to video analytics systems to assess people’s behaviors, to communication and conversational artificial intelligence (AI) devices that can interact with patients in their homes.
Consider what this means for patients who are managing a chronic condition such as diabetes or hypertension. Those individuals receive advice when they visit their doctor or nurse practitioner. But how can providers keep patient engagement going between those visits? Now, after garnering the appropriate approvals, providers can use patient-generated data and virtual health services to monitor patients and ensure they have the information needed for their care without requiring an office visit. Increased interactions between practitioners and patients helps to increase engagement, which is often difficult to achieve between visits. Better-engaged patients will positively impact patient satisfaction scores — a key consideration in the value-based care system.
Additionally, collecting more types of data enables organizations to better understand the dynamics of the entire population. Patients with similar profiles can be identified, successful care paths can be determined, and emerging patterns can be recognized to help in finding the most effective interventions. And, healthier populations will result in less expense to the healthcare system overall.