Tag: Ryan VanDePutte

Healthcare’s New Challenge: Mastering the Trifecta of Comfort, Cost and Care

By Ryan VanDePutte, associate director, Bits In Glass

Ryan VanDePutte

Each day in the U.S., about 10,000 seniors turn 65. By 2050, there will be 83.7 million seniors in the country, representing about one-fifth of its population. Even with the growing awareness of health and fitness, it’s a hard reality that about three-quarters of these older Americans live with multiple chronic health conditions, ranging from diabetes to dementia, meaning that ongoing care and monitoring is simply a fact of life.

The way we deliver senior care has been evolving, and more patients are seeking to “age in place,” which means that they opt to remain in their own homes for as long as possible while receiving any necessary medical care.

This desire to remain at home is driven by many factors including a desire for comfort, access to friends and family, familiarity and privacy. Not to mention the economic benefits – with the cost of nursing homes easily topping $70,000 a year.

Because of this, home healthcare services have been growing in popularity, despite the fact that patients who receive care at home are more likely to experience a higher 30-day re-admission rate after leaving the hospital, compared to those in nursing homes. Still, the lower costs and comfort make home care an attractive option.

Your Doctor is Only as Good as the Information They Have

One challenge that home healthcare providers face is consistency in tracking and communicating information to the patient’s primary doctor. Not only information from care at home, but also information from clinics or hospital visits. This lack of insight into patient data can significantly increase the cost of care for patients because without access to the full history of the patient, unnecessary tests may be run, wasting both money and the doctor’s time. It is reported that a whopping $210 billion is spent annually on unnecessary medical care each year in America. Put in perspective, this is almost twice the U.S. 2019 federal education budget.

Further, there can be even more serious consequences to this lack of information and tracking. Without access to accurate patient records, medical errors are more likely because, for example, the patient may have an allergy unknown by the care provider. Medical errors are in fact the third leading cause of death in the U.S. Each year, approximately 250,000 patients in the U.S. die because of such errors.

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Healthcare’s New Challenge: Mastering The Trifecta of Comfort, Cost and Care

By Ryan VanDePutte, associate director, Bits In Glass.

Ryan VanDePutte

Each day in the U.S., about 10,000 seniors turn 65. By 2050, there will be 83.7 million seniors in the country, representing about one-fifth of its population. Even with the growing awareness of health and fitness, it’s a hard reality that about three-quarters of these older Americans live with multiple chronic health conditions, ranging from diabetes to dementia, meaning that ongoing care and monitoring is simply a fact of life.

The way we deliver senior care has been evolving, and more patients are seeking to “age in place,” which means that they opt to remain in their own homes for as long as possible while receiving any necessary medical care.

This desire to remain at home is driven by many factors including a desire for comfort, access to friends and family, familiarity and privacy. Not to mention the economic benefits – with the cost of nursing homes easily topping $70,000 a year.

Because of this, home healthcare services have been growing in popularity, despite the fact that patients who receive care at home are more likely to experience a higher 30-day readmission rate after leaving the hospital, compared to those in nursing homes. Still, the lower costs and comfort make home care an attractive option.

Your Doctor is Only as Good as the Information They Have

One challenge that home healthcare providers face is consistency in tracking and communicating information to the patient’s primary doctor. Not only information from care at home, but also information from clinics or hospital visits. This lack of insight into patient data can significantly increase the cost of care for patients because without access to the full history of the patient, unnecessary tests may be run, wasting both money and the doctor’s time. It is reported that a whopping $210 billion is spent annually on unnecessary medical care each year in America. Put in perspective, this is almost twice the U.S. 2019 federal education budget.

Further, there can be even more serious consequences to this lack of information and tracking. Without access to accurate patient records, medical errors are more likely because, for example, the patient may have an allergy unknown by the care provider. Medical errors are in fact the third leading cause of death in the U.S. Each year, approximately 250,000 patients in the U.S. die due to such errors.

To prevent these tragedies, an up-to-date, accurate patient file that is updated at each point of care is crucial. This can be most efficiently accomplished via electronic records that are patient-centric and follow a patient wherever they go to receive care, keeping specialists informed throughout an individual patient’s journey. This bridges the gap when a patient switches providers or sees a new physician because each professional has a patient’s detailed medical history, already available to them.

The HITECH Act and Where Electronic Health Records (EHR) Can Go Wrong

Despite the obvious benefits to the implementation of Electronic Health Records (EHR) – it alone is not the answer. The HITECH Act – or Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act was signed into law by President Barack Obama in February of 2009. A key aspect of the Act was to promote and expand the adoption of health information technology, specifically, the use of EHRs by healthcare providers. Prior to this, only 10% of hospitals had adopted EHRs.

Unfortunately, after more than $36 billion was spent on the project, and most doctors have indeed moved to electronic health records – the solutions were implemented in such a way that they are not interoperable with one another. So while one hospital may have impeccable electronic patient records – there was no way to efficiently transfer that information to another care provider, blocking the effectiveness of the initiative.

Further, some of the independent EHR systems were difficult for doctors to use and could cause dangerous mistakes, such as recording a child’s weight by default in kilograms rather than pounds, leading to the prescription of incorrect doses of medication.

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How Data Is Driving Patient-Centric Healthcare

By Ryan VanDePutte, associate director, Bits In Glass.

Ryan VanDePutte

Patient-centric healthcare is a major buzzword today, and it aligns with an overarching trend that is taking place in our society: mass customization. Over the last two decades, we’ve seen tremendous technological advancements that have drastically changed the way that most all goods and services are delivered. Goods and services are now tailored as much as possible to fit with each of our individual tastes, needs and schedules. This includes everything from entertainment (Spotify, Netflix) to food (UberEats), clothing (Stitch Fix) and now, even healthcare, where the patient is set to become the center of the care ecosystem.

When it comes to this transformation in healthcare, it is about more than just “me, me, me,” thinking. Patient-centricity is really about establishing a partnership between practitioners, patients and their families that aligns with a patient’s wants, preferences and needs, empowering them to be an active participant with control over their own healthcare experience.

This is not only something that the new generation has come to expect but also aligns with the needs of a large elderly population who are increasingly seeking home care over inpatient care. The population of adults aged 65 and older is expected to double from 37 million to 71.5 million between 2006 and 2030 and a 2018 AARP report showed that most of these adults want to grow old in their own homes and in their own communities. This could be for reasons as simple as comfort or as complex as mobility limitations. And while most of these older patients do have a primary care physician, again — it may be physically or economically challenging for them to actually go and see them every time in person. Further, the Association of American Medical Colleges estimates that the U.S. could lose as many as 100,000 doctors by 2025. This will further increase the need for efficiency in the medical field, as doctors are already in short supply, particularly in rural areas.

Data, data everywhere

To achieve the outcomes described above, an increased amount of quality data is required to truly serve each individual. While the use of electronic health records has grown in the last several years, making this data easier to access, many of us can still recall seeing doctors using written notes on a piece of paper and placing that paper into a filing cabinet. This analog data storage method has two major problems when it comes to patient-centricity; the first being that the data is not highly usable, it cannot be searched or analyzed in an efficient way, and the second being that much of the time, this data is based on what a patient remembers after sitting in the waiting room at a physician’s office. Both the quality and usability of the data can be lacking.

Further, many patients, especially younger patients, do not have a primary care physician (or a single filing cabinet of records) at all and receive medical care from several different sources such as urgent care clinics and home care providers. This fragments the patient’s health data, which not only impacts the ability for physicians to provide the best recommendations but also brings with it added hard costs.

Redundant tests, for example, may be ordered which increases the cost of care. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, the average health organization also spends approximately $120 in labor searching for every misfiled document, and $220 for the re-creation of a document. And according to Premier Healthcare Alliance Research, a lack of interoperability in these systems costs 150,000 lives and $18.6 billion per year.

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