(by Patrick Talmadge Harris - CEO & Founder, PatEx)
Lately, I’ve been tweeting and posting a variety of topics regarding Accountable Care and ways to achieve this patient-centric care model for wishful organizations. While the current regulations may be ‘fuzzy’, proof does exist (or is starting to form) on successful practices to initially form and pave the way for this type of model. While there are what some call “critical success factors” for early, maturing and late stage models, many of the ideas (and ideals) are certainly new and foreign to healthcare and existing system infrastructure. There is no doubt that the industry is filled with a huge amount of brainpower with the ability to execute, but are organizations and the individuals that make up the organization willing to adapt?
After studying such models, I am fascinated with the role of the patient experience, social media and business intelligence – and even more so – the way each of these factors, ‘tools’ and conditions exist to provide a critical interchanging mechanism for successful patient-centered care. While most published information is, honestly, naïve and elementary when attempting to provide guidance, it is the nature of the business. They are seen as discrete entities but as the industry and these critical factors mature, organizations must embrace the complexities and linkage.
The Patient Experience – Links to Social Media
Most will agree the impact of social media (now and especially in the future) as the consumer dashboard of our digital lives. Also, from a business perspective it will become a way of doing business in the future (as it continues to grow in acceptance). Not only is it a platform but an experience in itself. Healthcare organizations must utilize and capitalize on social media to create wonderful patient experiences (before, during and after care). Most successful models (of Accountable Care, patient-centric care, etc.) emphasize the importance of patient satisfaction, and rightfully so – patients are consumers and consumers have a choice. This means for Accountable Care, happy and repeat customers are critical for long-term sustainability for a healthcare organization. Obviously, there are challenges and legwork that must be done for social media to achieve “critical mass” for meaningful use, but there are ways to use these platforms now to enhance the patient experience such as communication with your client/patient base on a broadcast level as well as on an individual level, providing pre-and-post care information, clinical dialogue exchange, and ways to communicate with current and potential clients about what you (as an organization) has to offer. Competition does exist (more increasingly in healthcare) and now is the time for organizations to use existing (less expensive platforms) to gain critical mass and a knowledgeable customer base. Providers, patients and payers now need to recognize and utilize the effectiveness of communication in all aspects of care - clinical, operational and ‘meaningful use’.
Social Media and Digital Strategy – A Continuous Process Improvement Tool
Let’s say you are an early stage to developing accountable care organization, you have established an amazing digital strategy and you have engaged your customers! What’s next and how do I continue and develop this strategy? Like most computerized systems, within these conversations and backend data there exists powerful continuous improvement data. It can be used to achieve improved patient satisfaction (thus more money for organizations), provide a better gauge and knowledge of your geographical patient demographic thus improved decisions (both clinical and operationally) and improved experiences for all (patients, employees, etc.). To achieve these high-level, yet critical goals a variety of methods and practices can be used. These include:
•Monitoring conversations for process improvement and improved care (both quantitatively and qualitatively);
•Facilitated communication medium to engage customers to provide information, clinical feedback as well as communicate internally within an organization to better communicate care practices;
•Utilize the platform to solicit patient satisfaction feedback;
•Drive internal process improvement communication with reminders and features;
•Make data driven decisions for accountable care goal metrics to better provide for your client base and what the population clinically demands;
•Utilize the data to make informed operational decisions.
The above list can go on and on but should be tailored to an organizations unique care model. To re-iterate proven accountable care models should govern strategy, use cases and executive level decisions but process improvement is a valuable tool in making data-driven decisions about your client population.
The goal at hand is patient-centric care and now is the time to embrace the existing technology to improve care and lower costs. In conclusion:
•Patient Experiences are critical;
•Social Media is critical;
•Business Intelligence is critical;
•All three together produce better care and quantifiable financial results.