Feedback from the front lines: Healthcare predictions for 2019

After having been a clinical provider in various direct patient care and leadership roles in hospital settings myself, I recently transitioned to providing support for those who are on the front lines of care. I’ve traveled all around the country this fall speaking with care coordination teams, administrators, and leadership teams at hospitals and health systems navigating the waters of value-based programming. Every team that I speak with has a set of concerns that is unique to their patient population and institution, yet the tools and support they will need going forward to influence outcomes are actually quite similar. Here are four predictions for 2019 that stem from the universal needs I’ve picked up on as I’ve engaged in conversations with healthcare stakeholders.

 

Prediction #1: Healthcare organizations will seek out technology solutions that allow them to scale patient tracking efforts.
Care coordinators across multiple different hospitals and health systems are sounding the same refrain—they’re desperately in need of tools that automate administrative tasks and allow them to track patient populations at scale. Historically care coordination teams have used basic technology like spreadsheets to document readmissions, ED visits, and transitions of care. They’ve relied on phone calls and faxes to get updates on key events and activities. This strategy may work for populations of 20, 30, or even 40 patients, but it’s become untenable as the populations being tracked have grown to include hundreds, if not thousands, of patients. To manage an ACO or participate in risk-based agreements such as BPCI Advanced, tools that manage and analyze patient movements and activities are a necessity.

Prediction #2: More providers will become interested in the whole patient story, not just the problem they’re treating on a given day.
The language of healthcare is changing—for example, today we often talk in terms of episodes of care. Providers at institutions involved in value-based arrangements are getting in the habit of trying to understand the context in which an ED visit, hospitalization, or readmission occurs. They are attempting to piece together the full patient journey, zeroing in on care transitions and also what’s happening with their patients in between transitions. Acute providers are looking to post-acute providers for information on what happens to their patients after a hospitalization. Post-acute providers, in turn, are looking upstream to understand the condition of a patient on admission to their nursing facility. In 2019,it’s likely that providers will begin acting this way even outside of value-based arrangements. You don’t need to be participating in BPCI Advanced to understand the importance of care coordination and connecting the continuum.

Prediction #3: Participants in value-based initiatives will begin to connect and share information about their patient populations.
ACOs that attended the National Association of ACOs (NAACOS) conference this fall were eager to discuss the issues they’re grappling with and exchange best practices for improving the quality of care while lowering the cost of care. Now that CMS has released the final rule for the Pathways to Success program, information sharing will undoubtedly continue and actually accelerate among ACOs that belong to NAACOS. I’ve also seen this trend reflected in my conversations with leaders at various healthcare organizations. If a hospital treats another ACO's patient and that patient comes back and gets readmitted, for example, the hospital gets “dinged” for the readmission and the ACO also has an issue. Keeping patients on the path to good health and in-network is so vitally important that some ACOs are even putting their resources onsite at unaffiliated medical centers where they know their patients are receiving care.

Prediction #4: Health systems will push for integrated solutions instead of bringing on standalone technology.
The concept of integration is nothing new in healthcare, but the need for these types of solutions over brand new standalone technology offerings has become particularly urgent for care coordination professionals, who so often answer to several different masters within their own health system. When I was working as director of transitional care management at a community health system, I had to log in to no fewer than seven separate systems, and this is a story I hear repeated at virtually every institution I visit. The result of bringing on so many new technologies without carefully considering how they impact existing systems and workflows is that staff are incredibly overwhelmed—their inboxes are clogged with alerts from all over the place and the sheer volume interferes with execution of daily tasks. There’s a lot of positive feedback about single sign-on integrations and this type of solution is going to become even more popular in 2019 because it’s fairly easy to implement relative to deeper integrations.

Armed with the tools and support they need to become more effective and efficient, we can expect to see hospitals, health systems, and providers across the continuum accelerate the pace of change in 2019 and improve the quality of care for all patients.

 

About Michael Ipekdjian
Michael Ipekdjian is Director of Customer Success at CarePort, a leading provider of care coordination software solutions that manages patient transitions across the continuum. Mike is a former bedside nurse and inpatient acute case manager, and has also held multiple senior care management roles. He holds an MBA in Healthcare Management from Western Governors University. Prior to joining CarePort Michael was the Corporate Chief Operating Officer of BetterHealth Your Way. He also served as Director of Transitional Care Management at Holyoke Medical Center.

About CarePort
CarePort Health provides care coordination software solutions to manage patient transitions across the continuum. The end-to-end platform bridges acute and post-acute EHRs, providing visibility for providers, payers and ACOs into the care that patients receive across care settings so that all providers can efficiently and effectively coordinate patient care. To learn more about CarePort and its full suite of solutions, please visit them online at www.careporthealth.com.

© Copyright ASC COMMUNICATIONS 2019. Interested in LINKING to or REPRINTING this content? View our policies by clicking here.

 

Top 40 Articles from the Past 6 Months