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?

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.

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?