Putting the pieces together: Why composable digital platforms are key to meeting health system goals

Entering 2020, the healthcare sector has faced numerous challenges.

The COVID-19 pandemic further exposed many of the weaknesses in our healthcare system, and now, the problems that existed prior are even more urgent. Physicians continue to report feeling burnt out and overworked after a grueling year of care delivery, often at personal risk, and with a backlog of deferred care for chronic conditions awaiting them post-pandemic. Due to rapidly changing workflows, many health systems have adopted multiple point solutions, leading to challenges managing a host of technologies that don’t seamlessly connect as well as frustrations with EHRs that weren't originally designed to adapt to evolving workflow needs. Added to that is the task of continuing to navigate the transition from a volume-based to a value-based business model.

As health systems embrace technology as an enabler of more proactive, continuous care to support population health and value-based care goals, they can no longer afford to apply healthIT in a piecemeal fashion. It’s critical looking forward that our industry move from an array of disparate point solutions to a composable digital platform that supports different models of engagement and intervention across a diverse patient population and that improves overall clinical workflow.

Why Point Solutions in Healthcare Technology are Only a Temporary Fix
For many providers, frustration with technology issues was at a breaking point when COVID-19 hit. Health systems then experienced dramatic changes and challenges, from staffing and clinical needs to constantly evolving pandemic protocols. Limited resources, increased demand on their workforce, staffing shortages and the inability to provide in-person appointments for chronic care patients forced providers to turn to virtual care models. They quickly ramped up a variety of niche solutions, such as telemedicine platforms and remote patient monitoring (RPM) tools, to address urgent pain points.

While these solutions offered a stop-gap during the pandemic, health systems now see clearly that many of the point solutions they hastily adopted were not designed to be scalable. In many cases, they operated outside the existing clinical workflow and were disconnected from providers’ overarching institutional priorities.

For example, providers may have introduced an app to support patients with diabetes and a different one for those dealing with heart failure. They likely have separate platforms for chronic care management and population health goals or for RPM and virtual visits. While these point solutions from a variety of vendors helped address individual pain points within the patient population, they were not designed to coexist and forced providers to learn new technologies and separate processes at a time they were already stretched thin.

An Interoperable Future to Improve Population – and Individual – Health
To have a meaningful impact on patients' health and providers' ability to care for their patients, disparate solutions need to work in concert. Gartner notes, "healthcare provider CIOs are shifting their architectural requirements to a platform paradigm, enabling patients, consumers and providers, and other stakeholders to exchange value and services."

In fact, Gartner projects that by 2023, 35% of healthcare delivery organizations (HDOs) will have shifted workflows outside the EHR to deliver better digital experiences.

Reason being, EHR systems were previously designed for billing capture -- not clinical workflow optimization. Now, a composable clinical platform is needed to efficiently and effectively meet workflow requirements. Today, health systems are having to fill the gaps with expensive and inefficient local builds, thereby reinventing solutions over and over at each healthcare system.

This new type of digital care delivery platform incorporates the Internet of Things (IoT), advanced analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), consumer engagement and the ability to integrate with the overall healthcare ecosystem, including health information exchanges (HIEs) and participation in accountable care organizations.

Now is an opportune time to explore the move to more robust, flexible digital platforms that leverage these advanced technologies. Full stack solutions and integrated care delivery platforms are especially needed.

Broad government mandates have made interoperability a reality, and the pandemic catalyzed the expansion of funding for continuous, virtual models of care. Funding sources include $175 billion in funding to hospitals through the CARES Act, another nearly $450 million from the Federal Communications Commission for telehealth programs, and other grants through Grants.gov and the Rural Health Information Hub.

A Platform Approach to Digital Health
Bringing RPM, chronic care management (CCM), patient-reported outcomes (PROs) and clinical decision support solutions together under a clinical management platform is the key to providing individuals with the care they need by enabling the clinical workflows within health systems, which will ultimately drive better overall population health.

Tying these powerful solutions together with a clinical management platform will also further enable holistic care of individuals by:
● Identifying patients who are not meeting standards of care
● Leveraging PROs and RPM to engage and empower patients to improve their health
● Driving greater efficiency for staff managing patients with chronic conditions with alerts and clinical decision support connected to patient-generated data
● Closing clinical gaps in care with next-generation clinical decision support

By bringing disparate RPM, PROs, CCM and CDS functionality together with a composable platform, healthcare providers will have a valuable tool that offers ongoing reporting, analytics and decision support to reach their systemwide goals. Only through such a multifaceted approach can providers achieve population -- and individual -- health goals and reach the pinnacle of value-based care for which providers have been striving for so long.

About the Author
Lucienne Marie Ide, M.D., PH.D., is the founder and CEO of Rimidi, a cloud- based software platform that enables personalized management of health conditions across populations. She brings her diverse experiences in medicine, science, venture capital and technology to bear in leading Rimidi’s strategy and vision. Motivated by the belief that we can do so much better as individuals, in industry and society, Lucie left clinical medicine to join the ranks of healthcare entrepreneurs who are trying to revolutionize an industry.

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