Clinicians and healthcare organizations want to improve patient care while saving time and money. Technologies have the promise to do just that. Here are 6 ways technology improves patient care while saving healthcare organizations time and money.
--By Debra Prentice, Market Development Director
While there has been focus on how to improve the healthcare system, the dedication of clinicians and healthcare organizations to improve their patients’ lives has remained at the center of their mission. Even with the complex issues of systems, revenue cycles, cyber-security threats & increasing costs of care – members of any healthcare organization -- no matter their role will always tell you patient care is their number one mission.
The mission and level of care to patient health has resulted in a 30 % decline in death rates for heart disease and stroke while showing a decline in cancer rates since 1990 – according Forbes magazine.
Both patients and healthcare organizations agree that technologies in healthcare have the potential to further the quality of care while lowering costs. These are just 6 of the technologies that can do just that.
Consumer, Lifestyle, & Health Data provides a better value for patients which equals a better quality in care.
Anish Sebastion, co-founder and CEO of babyscripts is “deeply passionate about driving toward the intersection of the Human Experience & Data Science within healthcare.” There is a good reason why the human experience should intersect with data science: Consumers are demanding it! 2018 can be considered the year of the consumer, and Google Insights reported that “more research = fewer regrets” for consumers, and this includes a consumers’ healthcare choices.
READ MORE: 2019 forecast: A bigger year for consumers and online healthcare
Using Consumer, Lifestyle, & Health Data can show how a person’s daily living can affect their overall health. By responsibly using this data and creating predictive models, clinicians and healthcare organizations can proactively engage with their patients for better health.
Further, using both consumer and clinical data can provide an individualized healthcare experience for consumers while increase the general population health. Jeff Margolis, Chairman and CEO of Welltok states, “Clinical data and expertise are vital, but the only way the healthcare industry will truly fix itself is to understand consumers at an individual level – by leveraging information about every aspect of their lives – to create personalized experiences that ultimately drive behavior change and improve outcomes”.
A small example of how consumer data can save on healthcare costs: consumer data can predict a patient’s preferred method of engagement: phone, text, or email. Knowing this prior to contacting a patient saves a clinician’s time and increases the likelihood of patient engagement.
Medicaid recently used this type of consumer data to reach the top 25% of persons not likely to re-certify via their preferred contact method. This resulted in a 39% decrease in recertification failure compared to the control group.
Meaningful use of Data & Analytics provides a holistic view and better quality of care for patients while improving efficiencies for healthcare organizations
Along with consumer, lifestyle, & health data – meaningful use of this data by analytics has the potential to make value-based care a possibility. According to International Data Corporation (IDC), healthcare data is expected to grow 36% annually (compounded) through 2025 and healthcare data is growing faster than other industries.
Just collecting data is not enough, According to NEJM Catalyst: “The second trend involves using big data analysis to deliver information that is evidence-based and will, over time, increase efficiencies and help sharpen our understanding of the best practices associated with any disease, injury or illness.”
Big Data improving patient health:
- mHealth (mobile health and their associated devices) can monitor patient health and alert patients to seek medical care. mHealth and Telehealth options also provides care to patients in rural areas and to patients who may not have access to care
- Reduce prescription errors: Network for Excellence in Health Innovation reports that prescription errors cost $21 billion per year and may lead to 7,000 deaths.
- Quicker treatments when clinicians have access to population health data
- Can reduce hospital wait times and save administrative time of clinicians – giving them more time to spend with their patients.
Big Data improving patient health:
- Data analysis can reduce admissions/re-admissions and provide shorter hospital stays
- Provide higher accuracy in treatments and clinical decisions which results in lower costs
- Allows a more proactive approach to healthcare by identifying patients who are at a great risk for illness
- Predictive analysis can accurately staff clinicians at varying times, reducing costs associated with over booking or under booking clinicians
- Wearables and mHealth will allow patient monitoring without a hospital stay in certain cases
The Society of Actuaries reports that predictive analytics may save healthcare organizations 25% in annual costs over the next 5 years.
Improvements to EHRs reduces the amount of time clinicians spend on administrative tasks so they can spend more time with patients
Although most healthcare organizations have digitized their Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) since 2016, Deloitte reports that only 10% would use their EMR system as is.
“Sadly, most EMR software is terribly inadequate. They were built on obsolete platforms with little thought dedicated to user experience. Most EMR packages started as billing systems slowly adding clinical components to gain market share. The design phase was largely overlooked as the functionality of the system was all the government had created guidelines for. This is why physicians complain they have to click 30 times to give a patient a sleeping pill.”
While healthcare organizations can spend between $5 million to $20 million on an EHR system, this type of investment is worth letting technology handle routine tasks vs. clinicians.
Amy Leopard of Bradley states, ““The biggest challenge at the moment is to address the physician workflow and usability pain points. There is a vast recognition that physicians are overburdened with the documentation requirements. EHR and healthcare technology generally need to be better optimized so they can avoid routine clerical functions and interact with patients more fully.”
Taking an EHR system beyond just electronically documentation patient records has a measurable effect on revenue by reducing data entry time, more accurate billing & preventing lost charges, and decreasing insurance denials.
Security is more than just protecting patients’ records; A robust security strategy identifies and resolves weak points in the IT System
Healthcare cyber-security threats can be internal, external, malicious, or unintentional.
As reported by healthcare innovation, Executives from the National Association of County and City Health Officials say that healthcare breaches can cost up to $400 a patient, and yet, only 33 percent of the industry has taken the preventative measure of protecting themselves properly.
According the Healthcare ITNews, “cyberattacks and malicious insiders costing about $157 per record across all sectors. System glitches cost about $131 per record to resolve, while human errors cost $128 on average.”
Wendi Whitmore of IBM X-Force Incident Response and Intelligent Services states, “There are many hidden expenses (associated with a security breach) which must be taken into account.” Healthcare data breaches cost $408 per patient record and may take 197 days to detect a breach with an additional 69 days to contain the breach. The real cost of a security breach is a damaged reputation which could take years to recover.
While investing in the latest cyber-security technology is attractive to many companies, a better strategy is to make an investment in the right people. According to Karl Sigler, Threat Intelligence Manager for Trustwave, “Investing in your people, whether it’s hiring a single security expert you trust or investing in training for your existing IT staff is probably the best initial investment that an organization can make.”
Most companies small and large are taking the cybersecurity threat very seriously, which has created demand for cyber security and IT professionals across industries. In many areas of the country this demand has created a labor shortage for technologists and cyber-security experts. Hiring an IT Staffing company like Arrow Solutions Group can help healthcare organizations find the right person for their company and significantly shorten the time for placement.
Patients are more engaged and satisfied with their care when telehealth is an option with their healthcare provider
Authors at Harvard Business Review state that telehealth can address healthcare costs, physician shortages, and the care of an aging population.
An Accenture analysis shows that telehealth for annual patient visits, ongoing patient management, and self-care options could generate a revenue of $10 billion annually over the next few years. Telehealth options have also shown a significant increase in patient engagement while providing a personalized experience to patients.
Telehealth also provides access to care for those who were previously underserved to include patients in rural areas, senior citizens, and those with behavioral health disorders. According to Dr. Lew Levy, Teladoc’s Chief Medical Officer, “About 42 million Americans have anxiety disorders, and more than 16 million suffer from major depression; but most have not received treatment in the prior year.”
Nathaniel Lacktman, chair of the national Telemedicine & Digital Health Industry at Foley & Lardner LLP states, ““The low cost and high user experience of asynchronous e-commerce has been seen across all industries, and healthcare is no different,” Lacktman adds. “Good medicine should be more than merely treating a disease; it should also offer patients a satisfying experience at an affordable price point. I welcome this next wave of innovative virtual care companies that place the patient-consumer experience at the forefront.”
Systems, Networks & Software Development is the backbone of a health delivery system that keeps day-to-day operations running efficiently
According to Bob Renner, CEO of Liaison Technologies, information technology needs to be replaced every 10 years, and this includes the healthcare industries. Renner states that some systems in healthcare are older than 10 years, and some legacy systems are not cloud ready.
Renner predicts, “upgrading IT infrastructure will provide a competitive advantage for healthcare organizations over those who still have legacy technology. Patients have a lot of information at their fingertips, so they can research to find the best healthcare provider with the best technology in their area.”
Additionally, upgraded IT infrastructures are less complex and can offer less vulnerabilities to cyber-attacks than legacy systems.
Renner also shared his insights on staffing concerns in the healthcare industry, “It's a vicious cycle. If you have legacy technology, you're not going to attract top talent. Once you don't have the top talent, you can't make the conversion to modern technology… It's already a tight labor market, and if you want to upscale your entire IT staff, that's a big problem.”
Upgrading or replacing an IT Infrastructure is a significant initial investment for most healthcare organizations, but the return on that investment is shown over time – especially when combined with other cost saving (or revenue generating) healthcare technologies like telehealth.
Additionally, despite a tight labor market for finding the right IT staff like Arrow Solutions Group for software development or upgrading/replacing systems and networks, partnering with an IT staffing company to find the right talent can save healthcare organizations time (and money) when deploying their systems.
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