Healthcare Providers' Top 3 New Year's Resolutions 2017

Healthcare Providers' Top 3 New Year's Resolutions 2017

As 2016 comes to an end, I wanted to give some thoughts about whats coming next or continuing to trend for 2017 rather than the typical year-in-review.

During 2016, we saw some continuing healthcare trends, data that shows hope for value-care initiatives, some conflicting beliefs and views, and a presidential election that will usher in a new President that while saying that Obama-care was going to be replaced, has also said that there are parts that may actually be effective. So where does that leave us in healthcare in 2017?

Continued Trend: Fixed-price fixed-time patient procedures will continue to be a focus to lower the cost of healthcare.

Accountable care, value-care, fixed-price episodes, shared-cost, incentive-based procedures, alternative payments — whatever you want to call it — these methods are basically defining the care timeline(an episode) along the patient continuum, assigning those episode costs to an accountable provider, and putting metrics around to measure quality of care and episode costs will remain a focus. This is a trend that has started to show data that supports lowering costs and keeping quality of care consistent.

Yes - we can debate both sides of effectiveness, cost and quality impacts, as well as debate on whether legislation will be repealed or not, but I will leave that to another blog topic.

The bottom-line — providers who:

  • can standardize the patient episode (help plan the care path, and educate patients) before and after the initial procedure,
  • follow-up and monitor their patients and their quality of care between visits,
  • can effectively collaborate with the patient’s care team of providers,
  • and become innovative to decrease costs along the patient continuum of care,

will eventually be considered the best care providers.

Regardless of your role along the patient’s continuum — a healthcare network, hospital, surgeon, skilled nursing facility, home health, physical therapy, or other downstream provider, the changes and challenges are coming. It’s a matter of how fast, and how (or if) you will be prepared before your competitor is ready.

If you believe the trend, then start getting better prepared with these Top 3 Provider 2017 New Year’s resolutions:

1. Extend your patient follow-up and monitoring

You should plan your patient's care path, educate them, know where they are, know how they are doing, and know if they need help.

Whether you are a hospital, a surgeon, or a “downstream” provider, your attention to the patient will pay-off in either new referrals, new patients directed from payers that desire more accountability and are willing to pay for it, or competitively against other providers — besides the fact that most would say - thats how healthcare should be.

Some of our provider customers are using Lifecycle Health to automate patient follow-up, and use the automated notifications to basically allow the product to perform assistant type of patient interactions, and alert them when patient’s need help (think A.I. progressing forward). Its a very cost effective way to interact with patients, and some patients seem to have an emotional attachment to the interactions and a positive feeling of knowing that their provider is monitoring them.

2. Analyze and automate your patient care processes

You need to analyze how much it costs to manage a patient — time & dollars.

You need to calculate the time required to plan your patient care path, care coordination-pre-procedure, care coordination-post-procedure, patient follow-up visits, phone calls, faxes, physician and staff travel time, patient travel and coordination complications, and include the time to receive other provider patient updates. You should then look at the trend that will require you to additionally monitor throughout the patient’s continuum. That’s a lot to cover and there will be some new add-on responsibilities — and the major complaint that I hear from providers — “its overwhelming”.

When you estimate, get to a specific dollar number per patient — it doesn't have to be perfect, but it’s probably much more than you think. So, what do you do? Begin to automate your care coordination and patient interaction tasks, be clear in patient communications, give patients more accountability, measure your patient satisfaction and outcomes, and find ways to make your physician time more efficient.

Lifecycle Health’s provider customers are using the Lifecycle Health platform to automate pre-procedure patient communications, pre-requisite patient follow-up checklists which save staff time for follow-up calls(e.g. Primary Care approvals, pain medicine pickup, completed PT evaluation visit, started post-surgery exercises), and also provide more consistent patient communications (e.g. what is my recovery process, and where will I be going?).

Some providers are using the Lifecycle Health platform for telehealth eVisits(video patient visits) to save physician commute time between clinics and hospitals to conduct patient followup visits (e.g. up to 2 hours a day) which will allow a physician more time for new or existing patients.

3. “Consolidate your icons”

You need to consolidate more than just desktop icons - consolidate patient and staff touchpoints.

While “icons” may seem like a 1990’s desktop PC term, its still most-likely relevant in healthcare if you are a care provider. [BTW - I saw one provider’s desktop of “required system icons” and there were over 20 to be used for a single patient - (sigh)].

What I mean is to not only look at your existing systems (or “icons”) but begin to look at your staff and patient interaction points with your organization — and begin to consolidate where possible. Its not just your desktop icons - but your patient and provider touch points that are probably hampering your efficiency — phone, email, fax, verbal communications, portal, EMR, patient forms, referral forms, dictation, transcribing, texting, etc. (some of which are not HIPAA compliant but thats another blog topic as well). This is not an easy one - by any means - and it’s even more difficult as you look forward to the additional provider responsibilities coming your way (follow-up, patient tracking, cost analysis, engagement, etc.).

Yes - agreed, it’s easier said than done — definitely.

If you can’t tackle them immediately - at least begin to look forward and target which touch points are costing you more time than they save. I believe that there are more opportunities than most people think — but you will need to be brave to remove that paper from your offices.

The Lifecycle Health platform was designed and bundled around the key current and future patient care and coordination needs for these 3 New Year’s resolutions. The Lifecycle Health platform bundles telehealth eVisit capabilities with other remote patient care features such as standardizing episode care protocols, secure messaging, automated patient care workflows and engagement, patient monitoring and automated provider notifications, provider-to-provider collaboration, patient outcome tracking, and patient/population analytics.

This broad integrated solution provides a single, cloud and mobile enabled platform for providers and patients to easily adapt and expand their remote and automated patient care management over time — and have the same, familiar touchpoint for both your staff and your patients. Many other trends exist and may or may not continue with the enthusiasm of 2016, but there are some that show promise in the mobile device, intelligent and connected monitoring devices, A.I. medical devices, A.I. diagnosis analytics, and possibly EMR interoperability (yes, there I said it, but will leave that to another blog topic as well).

So raise your glasses...

Here’s to a year of more engaged patients, more efficient patient interactions, and more fantastic patient experiences in 2017 !

[ching ching] — cheers, and I look forward to a fantastic 2017 for healthcare!