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.

National Health IT Week and the Ways We Help Patients

i_heart_hitNational Health IT Week is a proud time for all of us at SRS Health. Though we all took different paths to get here, the same overarching urge drove us: to help people. Despite our divergent skillsets and backgrounds, we share a lot in common with the specialists our IT solutions support. We are two halves of the same brain, and the betterment of clinical care is always at the forefront of our minds.

“We can harness data and technology to remove obstacles from the daily work of the people who keep us healthy,” believes Abraham Sanders, Principle Software Engineer at SRS Health. “There is amazing potential to consider. How can medical data be used to improve clinical outcomes for patients? How can the same data be used to help simplify the documentation of a patient visit, freeing clinicians up to focus on what matters most—the patient?”

These questions aren’t just food for thought, they drive every improvement and decision that goes into our HIT solutions. Where others see constraints and barriers, we see opportunities to lend a hand. Not the steady hand of a surgeon, or the gentle hands of nurse, but assistance that alleviates the pressure of paperwork and postage, remembers dates down to the millisecond, and notices the nuances that become patterns. As Hector Martinez, Sr. Implementation Specialist at SRS Health, puts it, “I enjoy the gratification that comes with enabling healthcare professionals to focus on practicing medicine and engaging with their patients. Seeing the clinical and nonclinical staff establish a level of confidence and comfort in their everyday roles is what I strive for.”

“When we suffer from a sickness or injury, we depend on healthcare professionals to get us back into shape,” says Ganesan Solaiappan, Software Development Manager at SRS Health. “Those professionals, in turn, depend on healthcare information technology to be able to do their work. In that way, I think I am helping to improve the quality of life by building and maintaining the systems that clinicians need.” Solaiappan adds, “Healthcare providers look to their IT systems to provide the information they need to make effective clinical decisions, to increase their awareness of innovations in the medical field, and to document and identify patterns. When doctors are able to provide complete and fully informed patient care, it may help to save a life. I’m thankful to be a part of that.”

“I am most proud of the way SRS comes together, cross functionally, to support our clients, even at the most inopportune times,” believes Michael Arbunzo, Technical Support Manager at SRS Health. “Emergency requests never take a holiday, and neither will physicians or the IT staff backing them up.”

To all our colleagues celebrating Health IT Week, especially the SRS Health Family, thank you for your unyielding dedication, hospitality, and warmth.

Enterprise Growth in the Ambulatory Space – The Benefits & Challenges

“Leadership is the challenge to be something more than average.” Jim Rohn

trees-growth-39281207_sEnterprise growth is an emerging trend in the ambulatory specialty space. The shift to a value-based market with an emphasis on quality rather than volume, together with associated pressures in the healthcare landscape, has fueled the consolidation of individual practices into super groups.

This trend was a predictive model and growth strategy for hospital systems as the shift to value-based care loomed on the horizon. Hospitals understood the need to grow by becoming better—leveraging cost, quality, and service advantages to attract key decision-makers as opposed to pursuing prior, price-extractive growth strategies that were driven purely by increasing size through acquisitions and expanded market share. (Advisory Board: Health System Growth Strategy for the Value-Based Market)

A similar shift is occurring with ambulatory specialty practices, which face challenges from declining reimbursement, increased costs, changes in government regulatory requirements with the advent of MACRA/MIPs, hospital system pressure and competition, and the shift from a fee-for-service model to value-based care. Physicians have realized that, in order to remain independent and profitable, they need to come together and create regional—and in some cases statewide—groups united under a common brand name and/or the formation of clinically integrated networks (CINs).

Enterprise growth empowers physicians to practice independently and compete with area hospitals and health systems. Enterprise specialty groups are a strong sustainable alternative to hospital employment and they support ancillary growth opportunities like ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs), urgent care, imaging, and physical therapy locations. They provide a platform from which to negotiate local/state/national contracts inclusive of malpractice premiums, and to direct employer opportunities. This bargaining power allows for a reduction in overhead together with an improved revenue stream. Enterprise groups also have the advantage of scale to tackle infrastructure and HCIT investments, improvements, customizations, and maintenance.

In any industry, growth through acquisition and consolidation brings challenges. It’s not easy to merge management, staff, locations, and office cultures—it requires strong leadership and governance. A unified community-facing brand, a shared growth strategy /approach, and the development of KPIs are key determinants of success. Performance metrics may include market share, geographic reach, patient growth vs. physician density, annual revenue by specialty, total cost of care, and outcomes quality. Other important considerations are developing an integrated approach for human resources, employment contracts, health and malpractice plans, purchasing/procurement, and Bundled Payments for Care Improvements (BPCI).

The emerging organization must keep the community it serves as its top priority as it transitions and the pieces come together. The main driver of enterprise growth—the need to demonstrate quality outcomes and low-cost episodic care—also serves as the attraction for referral sources within the surrounding medical community and their consumers, the patients.

Done well, the demonstration of quality outcomes will support a strong brand reputation, providing the necessary bargaining power needed with payers and employers. To accomplish this, many groups seek a common HCIT platform for patient engagement, regulatory compliance, and outcomes reporting. While this represents yet another change during a time of transition, the right HCIT partner is an integral part of the success of the organization. Other key considerations are the ability to integrate these solutions to drive a seamless experience for both the clinician and the patient. Equally important is that the HCIT solution participates in a collaborative dialogue regarding ongoing needs, and supports each individual specialist’s clinical workflow preferences and patient volume while providing reliable, dedicated, hands-on support.

Is Healthcare Hi-Tech Enough?

315x236-Devices-med-iconsThe answer to that question depends on what part of the healthcare continuum you look at. When it comes to the actual treatment of disease, few fields can compare with medicine in terms of developing and incorporating new technology. Think of cyber knives, genetically guided cancer therapies, complex new drugs for autoimmune diseases, and the way that surgery has become increasingly less invasive through its reliance on computer imaging and magnification for micro-, laparoscopic, and robot assisted surgery.

On the other hand, when it comes to the use of information technology, healthcare hasn’t been nearly as forward looking as, say, banking, or travel, or even the food industry. How often have you visited a highly respected doctor, located in state-of-the-art facilities, and had to spend half an hour filling out pages of badly xeroxed forms, asking redundant and often irrelevant questions about your personal health history? How often has a member of your doctor’s staff had to spend the time to call you to remind you of an appointment? How often have you wasted time trying to reach your doctor by phone to ask a simple question about your treatment?

Fortunately, the landscape is changing. The industry is starting to engage patients in new ways, using text messaging, video conferencing, and wearable devices to keep patients actively in the therapeutic loop rather than simply at the passive, receiving end. And it’s about time.

According to Pew research:

  • 88% of Americans use the Internet
  • 73% have broadband service at home
  • 95% of us carry a cell phone of some type
  • 62% of those have used their phone in the past year to look up information about a health condition.

Those numbers don’t surprise me. As I write this, I am sitting in O’Hare Airport and almost everyone in the departure lounge has a smart phone in his or her hand. Urban legend has it that people under 55 like to text while people over 60 prefer to make phone calls, but if O’Hare is any indication, the over-60 crowd is just as tech savvy as the younger generation. They’re checking the airline app—this happens to be a really bad travel day fraught with weather delays—so that they can text their families and friends with updates. In 2013, Exerpian Marketing found that adults over 55 send almost 500 text messages a month. I’m sure that number is much higher today.

So why not take advantage of this in your practice? Phones and texting allow you to engage with your patients in a whole new way. You can text them appointment reminders (my hair dresser has been doing it for years), let them know if your office is closed due to inclement weather, or notify them that it’s time to make an appointment to have their eyes checked.

Mobile devices can also be used as an electronic physician’s assistant, with apps to guide care and improve outcomes. Imagine if patients could log onto an app on their phones that reminded them of exercises they had to do that day, showed a video of how to do those exercises, recorded that the exercises had been done as well as the patient pain level and other progress indicators . . . and then automatically transmitted all of this information to the physician to become part of their charts. And that all this happened without the time and expense of the doctor’s staff having to make personal calls.

Even better, imagine that you, as the patient, could see your doctor without leaving your home or office. While video technology has been around for a long time, traditional physician practices have been slow to adopt teleservices. This is partly because state regulations and reimbursement policies have not encouraged it, outside of the few online physician services offering quick and relatively easy consults on a “pay now for service” basis. However, more and more states are passing legislation that allow doctors to establish provider-patient relationships through face-to-face interactive, two-way, real-time communication, or through store-and-forward technologies. In addition, some of the laws call out payment policies, and require that care provided via teleservices be billed the same as an in-office visit. I’d personally love it if my doctor adopted teleservices—it would save me the 30-minute drive to her office, the 10 minutes spent parking, the 20-minute delay because she is usually running late, and the 30-minute drive home. Instead, her office could text me when she’s ready and we could engage for 15 minutes via a telemedicine system. A lot better than the minimum 90+ minutes to do an in-person visit.

The final frontier is when healthcare manages to combine information technology with its existing drive for advanced treatment technology. One university research team is developing a tracking device that could be embedded in a pill; the device would activate when the patient took the medication, sending a message to a receiver app, which in turn would create a record for family members or physicians to review. This may initially sound a little too invasive, but think of the boon for families caring for an elder relative—they could verify that the correct meds were taken without having to hire an on-site care-giver or to make daily trips to ensure compliance.

What’s common to all these new technologies is that they recognize that the patient is at the center of the care team, and the information the patient provides must be incorporated into the therapeutic process in real time. The sooner we engage patients in their own care, the better outcomes we will all experience—and the technology that we are already using every day can help us get there. Is the healthcare you are providing hi-tech enough? What technology are you using now to advance your patient engagement?

We Must Enable Patients to Become Better Stewards of Their Own Care

Conventional wisdom says that people perform better if they have a vested interest in the outcome of a given situation. From experience, employers know this to be true: Employees who are given an ownership stake in their company historically perform better, and enjoy a higher degree of satisfaction from their respective jobs than do their non-stake-holding counterparts.

Recent research has shown that a similar premise holds true in healthcare as well. The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), which has expanded its focus on patient engagement each year states, “Patients want to be engaged in their healthcare decision-making process, and those who are engaged as decision-makers in their care tend to be healthier and have better outcomes.” The most commonly cited technologies hospitals plan to add involve patient-generated health data solutions (2016 HIMSS Connected Health Survey). Generally speaking, the greater the engagement of the patient, the better the results, and information technology (IT) can support improved engagement platforms, such as patient portals, secure messaging, social media and other technologies.Graph

Data underscores importance of patient engagement
According to a 2016 New England Journal of Medicine survey of 340 U.S. healthcare executives, clinician leaders and clinicians at organizations directly involved in healthcare delivery:

  • 42% of respondents indicated that less than a quarter of their patients were highly engaged.
  • More than 70% reported having less than half of their patients highly engaged.
  • And to underscore the importance of this result, 47% of those surveyed revealed that low patient engagement was the biggest challenge they faced in improving patient health outcomes.

In addition, a 2017 U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report recommends that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) “should assess the effectiveness of its efforts to enhance patient access to and use of electronic health information.”

This is not only true for hospitals, but also for specialty care practices, such as orthopaedists, ophthalmologists, dermatologists, gastroenterologists and other high-performance specialists. In these environments, it is imperative that practices understand the very specific needs of their patients, and how to best conduct outreach that will increase patient portal access and engagement.

How has your practice encouraged more patient engagement?

The Top 5 Challenges for Orthopaedists

In a recent article featured on Becker’s Healthcare, 19,200 physicians representing over 27 unique specialties were surveyed on what the most challenging parts of their careers were.

Here are the top 5 challenges for orthopaedists:

The Top 6 Challenges for Orthopaedists

It is also interesting to note that “Despite challenges, 79 percent of orthopedists would choose a medical career again, and 95 percent would choose orthopedics again.”

Would you?