The recent shift to value-based care is forcing healthcare practices to improve care quality and efficiency while cutting costs. Indeed a daunting task, but leveraging new technologies is an excellent place to start. In fact, technology adoption has helped healthcare practices drive operational efficiencies, improve medical outcomes, and deliver integrated care.
To help achieve these goals, clinicians have embraced technological advances to drive integrated care – from telehealth equipment to artificial intelligence, and patient data analytics. Corroborating this statement is the fact that the adoption rate of the EHR system has nearly doubled from 42% in 2008, to 86% in 2017. (Source)
What is integrated care?
Integrated care is all about enhancing the patient’s experience while increasing efficiency, and improving medical outcomes. Integrated care looks different for every provider and patient. Regardless of where it is implemented, it should address gaps in patient care and ensure coordinated and continuous care.
How Does Integrated Care Look like?
To understand how technology facilitates integrated care, let’s look at the example of a hypothetical patient, Mary.
Mary is a twelve-year-old girl with type 1 diabetes. She lives with her family in rural Alabama, over 250 miles away from the nearest pediatric hospital. Mary is currently managing diabetes with diet, exercise, and insulin therapy. She regularly sees a local pediatrician who is a part of a clinically integrated network (CIN). This gives her access to a broader community of experts, including one of the country’s leading pediatric endocrinologists.
Through telemedicine, Mary has virtual consultations with endocrinologists and dietitians. Consulting these experts allows Mary to attend her school as much as possible, and saves her family money and drive time.
All of Mary’s providers use tools like electronic health record (EHR) systems and involve her parents in care planning to deliver integrated care. Mary’s providers monitor her health data remotely and use decision-support technology to ensure she remains on-target with lab work and other tests. In short, the entire medical team coordinates with each other and Mary’s family to manage her type of illness and work towards well-communicated goals based on best practices in pediatric diabetics.
3 Ways Technology is Supporting Integrated Care
The technology supporting today’s healthcare practices resembles a closely-knit web of data systems. From the EHR systems to billing software, from data analytics to seamless communications between providers, healthcare practices rely on technology to succeed. Here’s how technology is facilitating the delivery of integrated care:
Decision-making tools: Powered by technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning, Decision-making tools help providers present critical information at the point of care. AI is helping healthcare practices precisely the way it is helping e-commerce businesses. When a customer makes a purchase online, the website automatically makes recommendations on what additional items the customer might be interested in buying through data analytics. The same concept is being applied to healthcare —AI is being used proactively to determine which medicines and treatments should be considered on priority based on an analysis of similar patients. These tools help providers save time, cut costs, avoid missed or delayed diagnosis, and ensure patient safety.
Customized user interfaces: Traditional paper-based health records had only one view, and specialists had no way to highlight the critical health information related to the patient. Customized user interfaces on tools like EHR systems can transform the way providers work by changing how patient data is displayed on a range of factors, including the provider’s specialty, care preferences, and patient’s health condition. With computerized patient records and tailored interfaces, providers are better equipped to deliver quality care and reduce the chances of missing critical information.
Automated Scheduling and Reminders: In the past, healthcare practices had only one way of reminding patients of their upcoming appointments – phone calls. But phone calls were not foolproof as calls were often missed, and messages fell through the cracks. Today, healthcare organizations can reach patients via more expeditious methods like emails, chats, and text messages. One of the most popular and interactive ways to schedule, confirm, and cancel appointments is through patient portals, where patients can manage appointment dates and times with a click of their mouse.
What we discussed in this blog is just the tip of the iceberg of how technology is transforming care delivery. To realize the full potential of information technology in facilitating integrated care, it must be incorporated seamlessly into the practice’s workflow to contribute to the patient experience. Providers will need to understand that EHRs and related technologies are indispensable to integrated care, pretty much like the stethoscope. Integrated care is the future of healthcare, and experts at Eye Care Leaders can help you build a futuristic healthcare practice. Contact us to learn more.