5 Care Improvements Hospitals Experience With SaaS, Cloud Computing

With healthcare costs continually increasing, hospitals can turn to innovative technology to aid care collaboration and coordination across a fragmented healthcare continuum. Innovative, smart technology is a key step to lowering healthcare costs, according to Thomas R. Ferry, president and CEO of Newton, Mass.-based Curaspan Health Group, which connects providers, payers and suppliers via secure electronic patient-transition networks to improve outcomes as patients move between levels of care. Smart technology — software-as-a-service networks — provides the level of connectivity, content and automation required for improving care coordination.

"Waiting for the Supreme Court decision is not a good excuse to delay on innovating or to do nothing. I think if anything, it is a reminder that action is needed now. By taking the technology and tools available in the market today, smart healthcare organizations can build the infrastructure to lower costs of healthcare delivery, to participate at lower reimbursement levels and to have a much better collaboration, which will result in better clinical organizations," says Mr. Ferry.

Many of the industry's performance measures such as readmissions and patient satisfaction are fundamentally process problems, says Mr. Ferry, and SaaS, or cloud computing, can have big impacts on improving both clinical and financial outcomes. Here are five benefits that smart technology offers providers.

1. Provides real-time, actionable data. Smart technology allows physicians and other clinicians to capture patient information electronically making the data accessible and actionable, enabling analysis and improvement in care efficiencies and outcomes. When patient information is immediately available electronically, the provider can review collected data on the hospital's care processes as well as the patient's outcomes. "Real-time data empowers physicians to take intervening actions. This is integral to healthcare. Real-time data on patients allows a physician to be proactive instead of reactive," says Mr. Ferry.

2. Enables focus on patient experience. Smart technology helps clinicians focus on patient care rather than administrative tasks so they can deliver a quality experience to patients and their families. Since technology like SaaS-powered electronic patient-transition networks automate a hospital's administrative workflow, routine tasks such as faxing patient records may not be as necessary. The smart technology allows the hospital to scale back on time-consuming administrative tasks and become more efficient.

3. Improves operational efficiency. Some SaaS networks, such as the ones offered by companies like Curaspan, allow hospitals to track a patient's entire episode of care from the moment he or she enters the hospital, so hospitals can optimize operational efficiencies to decrease costs. SaaS helps hospitals track when a patient is admitted, when he/she is assigned a care manager and receives care. Similarly, real-time data also helps a hospital identify where patient care is delayed and for how long. "For example, when a patient is admitted under a certain diagnosis-related group, the hospital knows that the patient should be discharged after a certain length of stay. The hospital is working against that timeframe. If the care takes longer than it should, the hospital could pinpoint what transition or service took the longest," says Mr. Ferry. The hospital can then analyze that performance data to set metrics to drive best practices and improve efficiency.

4. Simplifies patient referrals. SaaS-powered patient-transition networks enable hospitals to transmit clinical documentation about potential patient referrals to post acute-care providers securely and in a timely manner. This happens by matching patient needs with providers whose level of care and services are detailed in a database. According to Mr. Ferry, pending referrals with all necessary patient information goes into a post-acute provider's workbook. The provider can review the referral and then accept or deny the patient. This process improves the efficiency of patient referrals and allows hospitals to better ensure patients receive the appropriate post-acute care.

5. Improves population management with reduced readmissions.
With the real-time, electronic capture of data, a hospital can better coordinate care and manage their patient populations. In order for hospitals to reduce readmissions, for example, they need to measure the performance and interaction of different constituents in the healthcare continuum. Since care and outcome data from different care settings is available through a patient-transition network, hospitals can review readmissions by provider, patient, physician and diagnosis and identify root causes of readmissions. Hospitals armed with that information can then work to prevent readmissions in targeted ways.

More Articles on SaaS, Cloud Computing:

Racing Against Time: Cloud SaaS EHR is Perfect Alternative for Meaningful Use Strategy
Creating Clarity Around the Cloud: A Healthcare Transformation Forecast
Cloudy With a Chance of EHRs: The Ins and Outs of Cloud Computing

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