May your holidays and new year be filled with peace and prosperity!

Happy Holidays

Now is the perfect time to reflect upon the past year and those who have helped to shape our business. You!

We are truly inspired by physicians and healthcare professionals who are dedicated to providing the best care for their patients, and delighted to help them do so now and in the future.

May your new year be filled with good health, happiness, and success!

Happy Holidays,
Your SRS Health Team

Like Holiday Gifts, “Patient-centric Care” is about Quality, Not Quantity

The end of the December is a time for reflection on the closing year, and for making plans for the new one. It’s a time for top-ten lists and New Year’s resolutions. But for now, let’s focus on one of the top buzzwords of the year in healthcare: Patient-centric care. 

It’s actually been several years now that patient-centric care has been gaining buzz-worthy status, and like most trendy new concepts, it has often been used without a clear consensus on what it actually means. Most recently, for instance, it has become a catchall term for any care that offers a more comprehensive focus on the patient. And that should make us pause and think—how in the world did medicine ever lose its comprehensive focus on the patient? There have been many factors, to be sure, but the primary driver seems to have been physicians’ and practices’ need to align themselves with payment models that rewarded the volume of visits over the value of care.

This has permeated all levels of healthcare for many years. Whether it was the development of healthcare IT strategies, the crafting of EHR systems, the HIMSS stages of adoption and utilization, or the use of performance scorecards and data warehouses and analytics—all the focus was on maintaining high volumes of patient care, while a comprehensive approach to the patient often got lost in the flood of individual symptoms, tests, and treatments.

That is, until the recent sea change in the industry that shifted payment models from rewarding for quantity to rewarding for quality. This was a necessary correction, but the resulting increase in focus on value-based contracts puts healthcare providers at risk for the total cost and quality of care provided.  It has also highlighted significant holes in IT and data strategies that need to be addressed if an organization is successful in this new payment paradigm. At the top of that list of necessary improvements is patient engagement.

How to Engage? 

Patient engagement isn’t something that takes place at one point on the healthcare continuum—it’s a way of reorganizing the care continuum so that patient input and feedback are integral parts of the process at every step. Proper patient engagement aims to:

  • Involve patients in their own healthcare, leading to better outcomes and increased patient satisfaction;
  • Meet patient expectations for better ways to access and engage with their healthcare information and data;
  • Automate patient intake and other processes, helping to secure ROI;
  • Leverage patients to enter data, freeing practice staff to focus on patient care;
  • Improve communication between patients and caregivers;
  • Improve compliance with government regulations; and
  • Provide a global platform for patient access that spans multiple facets of the practice, i.e. physical therapy, urgent care, and other office locations.

This means that, when it comes to IT issues, practices need to choose the right vendor if they want to make patient engagement a reality. They need a vendor who does more than just sell a one-size-fits-all solution; they need a partner in the process of restructuring established workflows for greater efficiency, reduced costs, and better patient engagement. Achieving this is a big enough task on its own, so it’s important to minimize any potential challenges to adoption. The solution has to be:

  • Easy-to-use for both patients and practice staff;
  • Vendor neutral (not limited to the products of a specific manufacturer);
  • Data standardized, so the data can be accurately exchanged between different systems, increasing confidence of both doctors and patients; and
  • Able to connect and communicate with EHRs, HIEs, and ACOs.

As we move from volume- to value-based reimbursement, it is critical to understand how to best utilize the available tools and solutions to get patients actively engaged in their healthcare. Achieving this goal won’t be easy, but we will be creating better outcomes for both patients and for the practices that care for them. Is this at the top of your list for the New Year?

Achieving Outcomes Success

How do you improve outcomes? By collecting and reviewing quality and clinical data, comparing it to practice-wide and national benchmarks, identifying the most effective protocols and their impact on revenue, then standardizing best practices across the organization. These simple steps can greatly improve not only clinical objective outcomes, but patient reported outcomes as well—resulting in an improved reputation, an increase in patient referrals, and a stronger bottom line.

See how utilizing the right data can improve patient care, and standardize success: Achieving Outcomes Blog Image

Check out, Managing Outcomes and the Transition to The Value- Based Care World  to learn more on how proving outcomes for your patients, improves income for your practice.

Power of the Patient Interface

patient-powerHealthcare providers have long known that engaging patients leads to improved health outcomes; in a value-based payment world, engaged patients also provide a stronger framework for increased revenues. For this to happen, however, practices need the right patient engagement platform—one that not only empowers patients to become partners in their own healthcare, but that also documents that engagement.

A reliable, cutting-edge patient portal, for example, can enlist patients to provide extensive personal health data outside of the actual healthcare encounter, freeing up caregivers to spend more time with patients. Further, as population health becomes of increasing concern, practices whose patient engagement platform offers the ability to aggregate and analyze these individual health histories will have a head start. Patient engagement is where relevant data on population health begins.

It is equally important that the patient portal supports compliance with MIPS (Merit-based Incentive Payment Systems), enabling practices to comply with government requirements under Meaningful Use and MACRA (Medicare Access and CHIP [Children’s Health Insurance Program] Reauthorization Act) regulations—this will increase Medicare payments and minimize takebacks.

Finally, the patient portal needs to integrate seamlessly with the organization’s electronic health record, health information exchange, and accountable care organization, if any. The right solution will be flexible enough to adapt to the healthcare facility’s IT system, not the other way around.

ACOs and Triple Aim’s interest in patient engagement

Patient engagement was not initially a concern of accountable care organizations (ACOs), which were born of healthcare reform as a way to redefine the shared responsibility of doctors and hospital staff for coordinating care, improving quality, and lowering costs. That changed when the Affordable Care Act officially codified them into law, and recognized that ACOs could not succeed without patient engagement.

Patient engagement has also been deemed essential for the success of the Triple Aim, a framework developed by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement for optimizing health system performance by:

  • improving the patient experience (including quality and satisfaction);
  • improving population health; and
  • reducing the per capita cost of healthcare.

According to the IHI, “quality” is defined from the perspective of an individual member of a given population which leads logically to a focus on patient-centric care and patient engagement.

The ideal patient portal should be easy-to-use, responsive, and allow your patients to communicate with your practice on their terms. Practices need to communicate and connect with their patients to improve healthcare.

Do you have the right platform to engage your patients?

I Want My…I Want My VBC

I-want-my-vbc-blog

Launched with the iconic “I Want My MTV” ad campaign, Music Television was born in 1981 – and the music industry changed forever. For the first time, we could do more than hear music; we could see it being executed in a new visual medium. And the most successful bands were the ones who took advantage of this new opportunity to engage with audiences. Fast-forward to today, and technology has helped our music consumption continue to evolve in ways we could never have imagined.

So why am I talking about the 80s, what does this have to do with our annual User Summit, and how does Value Based Care (VBC) fit into all of this? Yes, we had an awesome 80s-themed party at last month’s summit. (I may or may not have been dressed as Slash, the guitarist from Guns N’ Roses at one point…) But there’s a better reason: we are in the midst of a healthcare revolution – and we are all making history. Together.

“Together” is a key word to tomorrow’s value based success. It’s how SRS Health is going to help our clients prepare for VBC, so they can benefit financially from the data-driven rewards – and more importantly, so they can utilize that data to provide even better medical care. We are continuing the SRS tradition of collaborating with our clients to create agile solutions designed to maximize today’s opportunities and pave the way for value-based success.

How are we doing this? With intelligent data solutions that cultivate the high levels of patient engagement, operational efficiency, and demonstration of quality that are critical to VBC. Working toward improved outcomes benefits your patients, and it benefits your businesses.

Here’s how some of our amazing clients are adding their ingenuity to our flexible data solutions, to provide improved care at lower cost – and create rock star VBC results:

  • Informed Decision Making. Bayview Physicians Group, a multi-specialty practice in Chesapeake, VA, is using data-driven evidence to mitigate the potential reimbursement shortfalls in the Medicare Advantage HCC Program. By developing protocols for various high-risk categories that help justify higher-cost treatments, Bayview is positioning themselves to be ahead of the cost factor curve. Why? Because the data shows that they are only recommending higher-cost treatments when they are medically necessary, which ultimately justifies the expense.
  • Operational Efficiency. Illinois Bone & Joint Institute has been using data to standardize best care practices across all of their physicians to provide the best and most effective results – in both the Medicare Federal Programs and commercial markets. For the past year, they’ve been investigating the factors that most influence orthopaedic outcomes, and how to use outcomes data to drive better care at lower cost. Now they want to combine the power of their EHR and their Outcomes solution to provide real-time evidence-based information at the point of care – and OBERD is on board to help us turn this vision into a real VBC-inspired game changer for them and for the industry.
  • Driving Growth. In South Carolina, Charleston Ear, Nose, and Throat & Allergy is maintaining their competitive edge in a different way. They’re leveraging their center of excellences operational process, IT capabilities and professional organization to expand by offering other practices access to the experience, tools, and solutions required for VBC success. This has led to a group of practices that can negotiate cost savings, better reimbursements and referrals – and it’s helping to create a sort of registry that will provide better data to help inform ENT physicians and improve outcomes in the new healthcare economy.

While VBC may not have the same cache as MTV, it really is something to get excited about. We are on the cusp of an entirely new way of providing healthcare – and with our intelligent data solutions and your innovative medical expertise, we’ve got what it takes to top the charts.

Change is always scary, but it also brings opportunities. And we’re ready to start singing “I want my VBC!” (80s attire optional.)

Achieving Value-Based Care – Making the Right Partnership for Success

There are many factors that contribute to achieving “value-based care,” some of which your practice may already be targeting—patient engagement, interoperability, outcomes, and efficiency, just to name a few! The reality is that the shift to value-based care has been underway for some time, but the change-over is accelerating with the implementation of MACRA. Whether through Alternative Payment Models or the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), the emphasis is now on improving quality and reducing cost.

For most doctors, of course, delivering quality care has always been a priority, so the question really is how to document that while maintaining practice efficiency, containing costs, and continuing to provide excellent patient care. Let’s look at some of the components of Value-Based Care:value-based-care-infographic

 

Whether you focus on all or some of these components, there will likely be a shift in how you use your EHR. To be effective in your pursuit of value-based care, you need your HIT vendor to be a true partner. Here are some questions to consider as you determine your goals and your technology needs:

  • What am I doing to drive value-based care, and how are my partners supporting me?
  • Where do I need more assistance?

And more specifically:

  • Do I have the capability to effectively engage and maintain communication with my patients—both pre- and post-visit—to better manage their care?
  • Can I track outcomes and set standards of care/protocols?
  • Can my current technology improve my practice efficiency?

Don’t settle for only what is imposed by regulatory requirements—decide what is truly valuable for the care of your patients and then implement it. The right technology partners will help you to develop a strategy for achieving your patient-care goals. Remember: How to efficiently deliver the highest quality patient care is an ongoing conversation—make sure your technology partners are holding up their end of it.

Let’s continue the conversation – tell us what you are doing to drive value-based care.