When it comes to Optimizing Healthcare Roles it is important to talk about integration in the healthcare industry. If the industry is properly integrated, then healthcare roles would be properly and efficiently optimized. Optimization and integration have become a focus of many in the healthcare industry of late. Many policymakers and healthcare organizations have now started actively working towards optimizing healthcare roles. But before we discuss further, let us define what integrated and optimized care means. Integrated care can be defined is
“‘Integrated care’ is a term that reflects a concern to improve patient experience and achieve greater efficiency and value from health delivery systems through better coordination of services provided.” Nuffieldtrust.org.uk
Integrated care cannot, on its own is a stand-alone concept be effective. In order for integrated care to be effective, there has to be a multidisciplinary focus with the active involvement of teams of participants. There also has to be curated solutions for each situation and each healthcare organizations. “One-size-fits-all” solutions are unlikely to work well and may create further problems whereby patients can fall between the cracks.
The following Strategies can be used to better Integrate Care and Optimize Healthcare Roles across the Industry:
Using Technology as a Means
of Integration to Communicate
with Other Providers
Technology, when used properly, can help make everything better. In the healthcare industry, technology can help eliminate barriers in information sharing so healthcare providers can share information freely among themselves. The free share of information will help smooth patient transitions across various boundaries that persist. Another way technology can help is through telehealth.
Telehealth plays and will continue to play a big role in the integrated care and it will become a great component and a major player in the future of integrated care. If you are in doubt, just look up tons of successful case studies written about the advancements of telehealth and the usage of e-health technology to improve communication between hospitals and other sectors such as primary care sector and community care as well.
Using Electronic Health Records
(EHR) is a Tool for
Optimization and Integration
Now when it comes, to technology, another area of focus is the area of information technology and health records. We’ve all written about and read tons and tons of articles on Electronic health records (EHR) and its importance. The premise of Electronic health records (EHR) is supposed to be patient-centered care, but as with many things in the healthcare industry, the reality is most adopters of Electronic health records (EHR) have instead focused on using it to enhance billing, reducing cost, increasing revenue, and other administrative and logistical uses.
The fact is that Electronic health records (EHR) were meant to help healthcare organizations closely track health, wellness, outcomes, and cost of individual patients throughout the care continuum and process. And that this would eventually lead to better patient integration and improved care. A patient-centered Electronic health records (EHR) system is, again in theory, supposed to be to be readily accessible to all care providers, as well as to the patients themselves; it has to be easy to input and extract data, and it has to use common definitions for data.
Focusing on Transition Points
Where Integration is Most
Likely to be at Risk
In order for the quality of care to be optimized, there has to be proper communication and flow of information at transition points. For example, a transition point would be when a patient is discharged or transferred to a different care facility. One good way to ensure the good transition is to employ quality improvement techniques such as processor value-stream mapping to help to identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies in discharge practices. Adopting best practices is also another way. The use of evidence-based clinical practice guidelines such as Clinical Best Practice Guidelines: Care Transitions can also facilitate improvements in practice.
Focusing on the
Needs of Patients
You would think that this would go without saying for an industry like the healthcare industry, But for providers high up in the chain of command who do not interact with patients and who might not even be in the medical field (lawyers, financial analysts, strategic managers etc) they tend to be out of touch with the fact that the needs of patients should always come first. A good example of the focusing on patients needs is the initiative, “Integrated Practice Units (IPU),” in which an entire team of providers organize themselves around the patient’s disease and provide comprehensive care across the range of the severity of the disease and the locations in which that disease is best served.
Working in Teams
Teams need to be built both horizontally and vertically across the healthcare organization. For hospitalists, working in multidisciplinary teams will come as second nature, but this also will require hospitalists to enhance the flexibility with which they see the patients and provide services exactly as the patients need, rather than based on arbitrary schedules and conveniences. It creates the convenience of a patient getting a one stop shop for all their medical needs and it also means fast caregiving and receiving.
Transparency of Information
There needs to be a transparent and free flow of information. Optimization and improvement require measurement and measurement require clear and accurate information on all aspects that need to be measured. Hospitalists need to work collaboratively with their hospital systems to collect and widely report on quality and cost metrics for the patients they serve.
The metrics that should be focused on are those that contribute significantly to the well-being of patients. Hospitalists should embrace the transparency of these metrics and encourage attribution of the metrics to individual providers or provider groups. When there is a free flow of information on metrics, improvement can be easily done or at least aspired towards. Receiving and giving information freely should be the norm.
Also, there should be flow of information and transparency between the healthcare organization and the patients. Hospitalists should advocate for widespread transparency of the costs of tests, products, supplies, and manpower, and these should be freely and openly shared with patients and their families, to engage them in discussions about value.
Reimbursements need to be bundled for ease. They should also reflect accurately, the cost of services rendered.