Value-Based Healthcare equates to efficient, high-quality, low-cost care to patients across the continuum. This means enhancing care coordination and improving communication between providers, as well as between providers and patients. It also means finding ways of putting patients at the center of their care – viewing them holistically and treating more than an isolated acute episode.
Improving communication and care coordination sounds simple, right? After all, it seems that almost every industry has managed to put consumers at the center – so why not healthcare? Unfortunately, value-based care is not as easy as it may seem; these efforts take tremendous work on the behalf of providers, with many incentives still not aligned to deliver truly patient-centered care.
There are inherent challenges to communicating across care settings. Providers need to understand the key pieces of information that are important to each specific setting and for each individual patient. For example, a post-surgical patient in a hospital will require providers to closely monitor vital signs, lab values, and conduct frequent physical assessments. The same patient in a skilled nursing facility rehabilitating from their surgery will need providers to shift their focus to physical therapy progress, wound care, discharge planning needs, and social determinants of health.
Addressing Healthcare Silos to Deliver Value
Many providers work in a single care setting and have little insight into the operations and challenges of other areas across the healthcare continuum. Even within one provider organization, there are challenges with communicating key pieces of information. I once had an orthopedic surgeon ask me if a visiting nurse could see his patient more frequently than once every two weeks; I assured him this was possible, since a visiting nurse often visits patients multiple times a week as needed by their clinical conditions. This exchange still resonates with me, as it showed that the surgeon cared enough to see how other aspects of the care plan could better meet the needs of the individual – not how the individual could meet the needs of the care plan.
As with all industries, there are silos causing communication and knowledge gaps. In healthcare, this is costly to providers and patients at every point along the continuum. So this begs the question, how can we break down silos to deliver value-based care?
The answer lies in better processes and better technology. Technology plays a tremendous role in bridging these gaps in an unobtrusive manner. Often this will include automating workflows and prompting communication that allows providers to share the right information, at the right time, to the right audience. This enhances the overall patient experience by improving the quality of care delivery and mitigating the risk of an unanticipated event. Communicating key pieces of information sets both providers and patients up for success, as clinical needs change rapidly. Despite the level of skill of any individual practitioner, better care will be provided when all parties are informed.
Delivering Value-Based Care through Enhanced Communication and Care Coordination
For healthcare leaders looking to thrive within the value-based system, working collaboratively will be key. Currently, the push towards value is tied to incentives, and in the case of ACOs, this means taking on risk-based agreements tied to the quality of care instead of quantity. As the scope of healthcare shifts from treating symptoms to caring for patients, Accountable Care Organizations are tackling the challenges associated with this shifting paradigm and leading the way for care delivery networks to adopt best practices.
One thing has remained clear in the efforts to deliver value-based care: Without workflow efficiencies and enhanced communications, it will be an uphill battle. To truly achieve value and better communication in healthcare, providers must be able to communicate with each other and with their patients at all points along the continuum of care.