Increasing Connectivity and Communication
Connectivity is a crucial aspect of our health care system. More than just about interoperability and fostering the communication between health IT systems; we need a team approach with providers and patients and organizations in concert for true information sharing in up-to-the-minute time. Achieving this bodes for a bright future for our health delivery system and our health personally.
While the Affordable Care Act, has steered us forward in health care IT innovation and adoption, we now must look to see how we can achieve effective engagement between patients and providers.
Addressing Inefficiencies in Care
Over time, the health care industry has evolved into an extremely complex and inefficient system. The distribution of health care resources and incentives across the country is extremely varied, creating disproportionate pockets of care (or lack thereof). Disparate data sources and capacity issues also act as roadblocks to efficient care.
Capacity — defined by most industries as the physical footprint and labor required to deliver a good or service — causes the majority of health care expenses in the U.S., according to the Dartmouth Atlas Project. In terms of a physical footprint, the large U.S. hospital bed number is architecturally designed for inefficiency. Studies show that a higher number of hospital beds leads to significantly higher health care costs and right now, U.S. hospitals average 2.5 beds per 1,000 residents. Simply put, hospitals have been incentivized to fill patient beds even if the patient could (and should) be treated in a lower-cost setting. In order to drive efficiencies in care, it is critical for providers to focus on the value of care versus volume. While incentives are pushing providers to do just that, there is clearly more work to be done.
The Empowered Patient
Any solutions to incite patient engagement must address the emotional, interactive and functional needs. Patients want to play an active role in their health care and both health insurance exchanges and increased pricing transparency is a good start. Now we must focus on a consumer-centric delivery system. This is what is desired (as witnessed by the popularity of “wearables” that emerged over this last year).
Now that patients are jumping on the bandwagon, it’s time for doctors and other healthcare providers to incorporate new health devices and apps that will increase patient connection and engagement.
When we can mix provider coordination with patient interaction, and connectivity, we will have the ideal health care model of our future!
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