Why it's time for hospitals to get ahead of the consumerism curve

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Healthcare is at a crossroads: As forward-looking organizations work to capitalize on the emerging trend of consumerism, hospitals and health systems more reluctant to innovate run the risk of  being left behind.

However, there is still time for organizations that have not implemented a consumerism strategy to get started. Consumerism is still a developing trend in healthcare. Thirty-nine percent of health system executives surveyed in Kaufman Hall's 2019 State of Consumerism in Healthcare report said their organizations had begun to develop consumer-centric strategies, but had yet to create the infrastructure to support these strategies. Additionally, 29 percent of respondents said their organizations were not working on a consumer-focused strategy. There is still time for providers to get ahead of the consumerism curve, but the window of opportunity is shrinking.

Here, Force Therapeutics CEO Bronwyn Spira discussed how digital care platforms can transform the care experience for both consumer and health systems alike. 

Note: Responses were edited for style and content.

Question: What are some engagement strategies that can help providers meet changing patient expectations?

Bronwyn Spira: Patients are savvier than ever and are making data-driven decisions.They are searching for convenience and connection, in addition to high-quality care. The consumerism of healthcare means that patients are now empowered to make decisions around the care they receive, and, as such, providers need to employ new strategies to meet changing patient expectations. Here are three strategies:

  1. Figure out what your essential touch points are and optimize around them. For example, if you know patients call into your office feeling anxious with questions and concerns around 10 days preop, how can you improve and standardize the interaction at this point? Using a digital navigation tool is an easy and scalable way to engage with patients at this critical time.
  1. Standardize the care team by implementing a digital care platform. Allow the digital care platform to adapt to your organization's workflow, then manage and measure the touch points across the entire episode of care (pre- and postoperative).
  1. Optimize 90 percent of recovery with virtual interaction. Within orthopedics, 90 percent of recovery takes place in the home. While nothing replaces 'human interaction,' customized technology is the solution for filling in the space between your most impactful touch points. This allows providers to extend their reach and control to patients anytime, anywhere.

Q: What are some strategies hospital systems can employ to optimize the orthopedic service line?

BS: Healthcare leaders are investing in orthopedics for three key reasons: growth of patient populations, high profit margins and the 'halo effect' or referrals. As a digital care platform and research network that supports more than 60 health systems across the country, we've seen first-hand how employing a couple of strategies can help your hospital system optimize their orthopedic service line.

  1. Control patient-generated cost by providing prescriptive tools to the patient that empower their recovery rather than dictate the outcome.
  1. Extend clinician reach into the home by leveraging patient-engagement software and digital navigation
  1. Better predict outcomes by looking at where the variation in quality and cost occurs, and how your system compares to similar centers.

Q: How do you see the impact of technology like artificial intelligence impacting healthcare and patient care?

BS: In most industries today, technology reduces risk, predicts behaviors and personalizes every touch a consumer experiences. In the end, patients are the ultimate consumer and expect the same connected consumer experience they receive in every other aspect of their lives. The good news is that healthcare is on the cusp of its own revolution. We’ll get there by leveraging patient-level data in new and innovative ways. In my opinion, technology like artificial intelligence will initially be focused on:

  1. Improving productivity: Automate common tasks, ease of data collection, patient engagement, reducing care team burnout.
  1. Reducing variability: Data-enabled clinical decision support, patient-reported outcome measures collection and research.
  1. Scaling medicine: National benchmarking, evidence-based care redesign.

We need to embrace digital strategies that transform healthcare into a virtuous cycle of care delivery (deliver care, collect data, organize and analyze data, iterate) for continuous improvement.

To speak with Bronwyn Spira, please email her at bronwyn@forcetherapeutics.com. To learn more about Force Therapeutics, visit www.forcetherapeutics.com.

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