Care management is a set of activities that aims to improve the quality of care of patients by helping them manage health conditions. Ultimately, this reduces the need for medical services. The need for care management has led to the rise of care management organizations that strive to enhance the quality of patient experience.
To be successful in this industry, care organizations need to incorporate effective care management software. This software is an indispensable tool that can determine the success or failure of your organization.
For this reason, several factors should be considered when choosing one.
Should Be All-Inclusive
Other than the electronic health records (EHR), a good care management software should also include other data sources that go beyond the medical history of the patient. While EHRs are important for gathering and storing data, there is still need for an interactive and comprehensive software.
A good software must get data from a variety of data sources and systems where communication takes place. Other than being in just one EMR, the software should be in multiple EMRs so that it doesn’t miss information from health systems within the ACO. A care management software that is comprehensive will enable clinicians to make timely decisions.
You could argue that, of all the different ways that technology has brought improvement to the lives of humans across the globe, none is more significant as the benefits to healthcare and medicine. From creating the X-ray machine to the many different surgical practices and personal care advancements, technology has helped increase life expectancy and optimism about the future of healthcare. As we journey into the years ahead, we continue to invent technologies that treat rare diseases and improve the general quality of life.
One significant advancement in technology is the creation of electronic health records (EHRs). The movement towards EHRs has caused a massive evolution in medicine and healthcare delivery, leading to other advances in health diagnosis and treatments. Gone are the days when hospitals relied on contrasting information systems that could not transfer and share patient records. The EHR system has made it possible to connect many systems and allow for faster, efficient, and integrated care.
Another advancement worth mentioning is telehealth or telemedicine. This simply refers to using telecommunications technology to improve healthcare. Whether you are focusing on At Home Companion Care or healthcare for deprived rural areas, patients can use different computers to have virtual meetings with doctors. Another advantage of using telehealth or telemedicine is its cost-effectiveness.
The telehealth technology works well with the right monitoring tools. When patients need to monitor their health from home, they can reduce visits to the doctor’s office and save some money. Today, millions of people use different telehealth technologies and remote health monitoring systems. Health workers and service providers can send needed data to health centers at remote locations. The benefit of this system is that it provides the right tools and methods to treat and monitor patients with chronic health issues regardless of their location.
There’s never been a more exciting era in the healthcare IT space than now. The intersection of disruptive technological innovation and a more tech-savvy generation of customers provides endless opportunities across a wide range of medical applications.
The healthcare industry has traditionally been reluctant to embrace tech. Given the strict regulations, the sensitivity of healthcare, and the potentially deadly consequences if something does go wrong, this reluctance is understandable. Slowly but surely though, healthcare is embracing IT, thereby unleashing new levels of efficiency and customer satisfaction.
Here’s a look at some of the key tech trends that are fast establishing a foothold in healthcare.
Digital services have proved to be reliable and efficient in medical operations. Some doctors use digital services to advertise their products while others use various software to monitor their clients as well as prescribe drugs to them.
A few years ago it was difficult to imagine being able to monitor and prescribe drugs to patients remotely, but nowadays it’s commonplace. What’s more, doctors have taken advantage of similar technologies to save money and maximize profits in their medical businesses.
Below are some of the ways through which doctors are relying on digital services to save money:
Sophisticated payment software
Doctors are some of the busiest people in the world. Some of them rarely get more two breaks in a day. Sometimes they have juggle between several things to ensure everything is running smoothly. That’s the reason most of them are investing in digital services to make their work easier.
The good thing is that there are several software companies that are focusing on the healthcare industry. This has helped doctors save money that would have rather been stolen in one way or another. For instance, sophisticated software solutions provided by outside services help physicians negotiate payer contracts with insurance companies.
By Rahul Varshneya, founder and president, Arkenea.
Cloud computing has become the new watchword for healthcare organizations across the globe. The adoption of cloud technology has been escalating at a frenetic pace and, as recent research suggests, the global market for cloud technologies in the industry is expected to reach $35 billion by 2020.
The underlying reason behind the recent hype in this technology is simple though. If healthcare institutions were plainly service providers before, today, they’re true technology organizations that now depend on their IT departments for administrative, clinical, and financial purposes.And that’s not all. As new payment models are added to the equation and patient expectations change, technology has become vital to drive efficiency and improve patient care.
In this article, we’ll be looking at a few things that have been made possible in healthcare due to the rapid adoption of cloud technology.
1) Reduced Costs of Data Storage
On-premises healthcare data centers not only demand an investment in hardware ahead of time, but they also come with ongoing costs of maintaining physical spaces, servers, and cooling solutions among many other things.
“Cloud solutions are very beneficial from the standpoint that as you migrate data, you don’t need to maintain your own datasets which can be costly and expensive,” explains Forward Health Group CTO Jeff Thomas. “Maintaining datasets on-site can also be expensive in that it takes up real estate which can sometimes be used for something else.”
By managing the structure, harmonious functioning and maintenance of cloud storage services, cloud computing vendors can significantly aid organizations in lowering their data storage costs and enable them to concentrate their efforts on caring for their patients.
Healthcare organizations can also leverage custom cloud EMR or EHR software to fit the needs of their specific practice. That way, they get exactly what they’re looking for without them having to dig a hole in their pockets.
The past decade of healthcare delivery has been dominated by the electronic health record (EHR), which has consumed vast hospital budgets and executive mindshare.
However, 35 percent of hospital executives say if they could go back in time, they would choose a different EHR vendor, and 56 percent say they seek out other health IT vendors to fulfill their needs rather than wait for their EMR to provide a tool.
These findings emerge in the Hospital Technology Forecast 2020, a new market report from Sage Growth Partners (SGP), a Baltimore-based healthcare research, strategy, and marketing firm.
Based on a survey of 100 hospital C-suite leaders conducted to gauge hospitals’ top health IT needs, challenges, and priorities, key findings from the market survey include:
Pessimism about EHR capabilities are pervasive; EHR loyalty is weak:
More than a quarter (27 percent) of respondents believe their EHR will fail to meet their future needs. COOs are the most pessimistic (67 percent) followed by CEOs (37 percent), and CFOs (34 percent).
If an organization’s EHR does not provide a tool they need, the majority (56 percent) of respondents say they seek out another vendor. Only 30 percent wait for the capability to be added to the EHR, and 14 percent say they create their own in-house solution.
The top three reasons executives look outside the EHR for an IT solution are: patient safety is jeopardized (No. 1), an outside solution promises greater ROI (No. 2), and an outside solution promises greater quality (No. 3).
Investment outside the EHR is already widespread, especially in non-clinical areas:
The top areas where hospitals have already invested in an IT solution outside of their EHR include data/analytics (73 percent), cybersecurity (70 percent), revenue cycle management (48 percent) and patient engagement (43 percent).
Of the health IT segments that hospitals have invested in, the areas of greatest return on investment include revenue cycle management and data/analytics (tied at No. 1), cybersecurity (No. 2), and operational efficiency (No. 3).
Over the next one to two years, hospitals’ top areas of health IT investment will include data/analytics (No. 1), operational efficiency (No. 2), patient engagement (No. 3), and revenue cycle (No. 4).
When asked to select the top digital health priority for their organization, most respondents (36 percent) selected patient self-scheduling. Just over a quarter (28 percent) selected care coordination; fewer selected patient access to clinical and financial records (15 percent), remote patient monitoring (12 percent), or disease management (nine percent).
With limited budget and attention, hospital leaders may choose the path of least resistance:
Sixty percent of C-suite leaders said only up to three percent of net patient revenue will be budgeted for new IT investments. Only four percent of C-suite leaders said more than five percent of net revenue will go toward new IT investments.
More than a quarter (28 percent) of survey respondents reported that vendors reach out to them daily, and another thirty percent field weekly inquiries.
A quarter of survey respondents said their EHR vendor offers rebates and incentives for adopting tools within the EHR. Of those respondents, 70 percent said this increases the likelihood that they would choose the EHR solution over a best-of-breed solution outside the EHR.
But executives expect any solution provider to keep up with interoperability requirements:
When asked how the recent CMS and ONC proposed rules on interoperability have affected IT investment plans, 48 percent said they simply expect their current vendors to provide solutions that meet the new rule requirements.
About one in five (22 percent) plan to hold off on investment decisions until they know more about the new rules, and 16 percent plan to accelerate investment. Only 13 percent reported already being in compliance with the new rules.
“The movement for new, better, and more appropriate digital solutions is underway,” says Dan D’Orazio, SGP’s CEO. “This is driven by fatigue and frustration around EHRs, as well as the many striking studies that show poorly performing EHRs can negatively impact patient safety. While hospitals were willing to put up with poor workflows in the EHR, they aren’t willing to compromise on safety, quality, or ROI. Healthcare is about to enter a new decade of digital innovation, and we will continue to see IT vendors and outside players like Amazon, Walmart, and CVS, disrupt EMRs and traditional care models.”
By Vladimir Kuzmenko, SVP of sales and business development, NIX United.
As healthcare becomes increasingly complex, the role of technology is evolving to offer new and innovative solutions that allow healthcare practices the opportunity to better serve their patients. However, as technology evolves and changes, healthcare as a whole must also grow and adapt to thrive in a complex and ever-changing ecosystem.
As we embark on a new decade (in which we’re now well into the first year), I’d like to examine a few of the more pressing trends that forward-thinking practices embracing currently and for the foreseeable future.
Some of these adoptions may include new systems and technologies being implemented, as well as technologies that are best-placed to keep up in these rapidly-changing areas of any profitable practice.
More importantly, however, is how these technologies might impact healthcare and how forward-thinking organizations take advantage of these opportunities. With this is mind, here are six trends that may influence healthcare in 2020 and beyond.
You may hear the term blockchain and think, “what does cryptocurrency have to do with helping patients?” However, blockchain has evolved and has many more applications than just new forms of currency. For instance, many urgent healthcare issues may be solved by utilizing blockchain, including:
Secure health information transfer
Health data management
Reducing the number of counterfeit medicines on the market
In addition, blockchain technology can be used in innovative ways to allow organizations to access information on a secure channel that maintains privacy.
Electronic health records
For all the integration issues U.S. healthcare organizations experienced in integrating electronic health records into their practices in the last decade, there has been no more profound change in the practice of healthcare in the U.S.
These electronic records create opportunities to track and improve patient care and to find new, more efficient treatment methods by incorporating artificial intelligence technologies. Protecting a practice’s and the patient’s data privacy is also an issue that must be addressed beforehand, not after a breach has occurred.
There is tremendous pressure on health systems to serve more patients, particularly as the need for services rises and insurance disbursements decrease. Adding new facilities to accommodate demand is often not a feasible option due to budgetary/capital constraints nor is adding more doctors with nowhere to put them. As a result, healthcare leaders consistently ask whether they are getting all that they can out of existing resources.
Operating rooms are a prime example. They serve as the economic backbone for health systems, and organizations need to maximize the use of OR capacity if they want to achieve their fiscal and patient access goals. Yet effectively managing OR blocks and scheduling in the face of volatile weekly demand patterns can feel like trying to squeeze blood from a stone.
If a significant portion of OR time has been reserved as dedicated blocks for surgeons or service lines, unless time not needed is released efficiently, ORs end up both not being used during business hours and yet working late into the night. Patients wait longer than necessary for scheduling procedures and organizations lose revenue.
Additionally, poor OR utilization makes it extremely difficult to accommodate the new surgeons that health systems want to attract. Current providers have a lock on ORs far in advance, regardless of whether they may need the time or not and/or later release these blocks. Such practices leave few opportunities for new surgeons to secure time when needed.
To remedy the situation, health systems are turning to data to look for insights into what can be done to improve OR utilization. After all, small changes in utilization translate to big differences in patient access, revenue and profitability.
The Role of EHRs
As data insights move to the forefront in organizational decision-making, there is some confusion about what EHR systems do and the role that they play. In a nutshell, EHRs tell you what’s already happened. They are vital systems, absolutely necessary for describing problems within organizations and supplying the data to back up assessments.
Breaking this down further, the purpose of implementing an EHR is threefold:
Reservation system: EHRs provide health systems a way to reserve resources, whether it be rooms, infusion chairs, or clinic time. EHRs do this as well as enable scheduling of specific equipment or providers.
Single source of truth for patient encounters: Organizations need a way to maintain records for every patient encounter — a single instance for each enterprise deployment — and EHRs provide this.
Descriptive reporting: Health systems require reporting. EHRs generate reports based on what was done, sort of like how Charles Schwab tells you how your portfolio performed.
While these functions are all essential to running a successful health system, there are several things EHRs are NOT designed to do no matter how much teams may wish they could. For example:
The electronic health record (EHR) industry continues to undergo a significant transformation, with many physicians asking themselves whether they consider their EHR a friend or a foe.
In too many cases, medical staff feel their EHR works against them, not for them. In fact, according to Medical Economics’ 2019 EHR score report, 60% of physicians said their current EHR system was harming their ability to engage with patients. In addition, The National Academy of Medicine found that as many as half of American physicians and nurses experience substantial symptoms of burnout. And, the same study found that poorly designed technology is a major contributing factor due to the increased amount of time needed to keep systems properly updated.
This should not be the case, and it’s time to change this narrative.
As we near a new year and a new decade, it’s time to focus on advancing EHRs to make the lives of physicians easier, while assisting in improving the patient experience, increasing engagement, enhancing administrative burdens, and more.
Required features and functionalities of EHRs in the next decade include:
Legacy EHR’s are typically thought of as outdated and lacking customization. Custom forms take months to build, cost extra and users ultimately lack control over the functionality. This is not acceptable by today’s standards. Every healthcare practice and specialty is different. So, the EHR must be customizable to fit each practices’ needs in order to optimize efficiency in data entry and management.
In addition, medical trends and challenges are constantly evolving. For example, opioid addiction has risen to epidemic levels in the United States, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimating that more than 130 people die from an opioid overdose every day. Fortunately, health information technology has emerged as a powerful tool for tracking prescription activity.
EHR’s hold a tremendous amount of data – data that can help physicians provide better care to a specific patient or population. Armed with these analytics, a practice can gain insight into population health — along with reporting requirements for government incentive programs and data to optimize billing and cash flow.
The EHR of the next decade should be a tool for decision making. EHRs need to utilize advanced artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to make smart suggestions based on data.
An EHR should not just track if a patient is following their care plan, but alert providers when a patient has missed certain critical elements and make suggestions on how best to proceed. As such, the technology can be used to play a larger role in lowering no-show rates and helping predict which patients will have the most success – or biggest challenges – with certain treatment plans.
EHR’s should also be capable of helping physicians make the best financial decisions for their practices. In addition to increasing practice efficiencies and costs, EHRs assist in offering reduced drug and treatment plans with expected costs.
Although electronic health records (EHR) are firmly established in the medical landscape, ongoing progress necessitates that providers keep up with emerging trends. Here are five of them.
1. Combining Artificial Intelligence and Voice Recognition with EHR
Artificial intelligence (AI) has already shown promise for assisting doctors with making diagnoses or recognizing historical trends about a patient’s condition. However, several companies are investigating bringing AI to EHR via voice recognition capabilities.
At Vanderbilt University Medical Center, providers can query the tools by posing questions in natural language. For example, a physician could ask a voice-enabled EHR system for details about a patient’s last recorded iron levels from blood tests. The system would inform the doctor of those levels, plus tell them whether they’re in a healthy range.
Allscripts and Northwell Health also recently struck a deal for a platform that blends AI with EHR and collects data from clinicians. Using voice commands within patient care could be especially useful for providers who have their hands full.
2. An Increased Emphasis on Mitigating EHR Errors
When the ECRI Institute released its 2020 report containing the top 10 health technology errors to be aware of in the coming year, EHR issues were mentioned multiple times. The first instance related to providers potentially being overwhelmed with notifications from EHR platforms, ignoring some of them and perhaps overlooking a genuine issue with a patient as a result.
The report also brought up the risk of medical data not including information about implants in patients that are sent for medical imaging. The study recommended providing a single place to enter or check for the presence of implant data in an EHR. Finally, the ECRI Institute cautioned that EHR mistakes could happen when a medication administration order sent by an EHR platform does not match the dosage time the provider intended.
This coverage of such mistakes will likely cause health care facilities to assess their systems and see if the issues exist there. If so, they’ll look for ways to reduce those problems.