Editor’s Note: This post is the second installment in a series. Click here to view the first post on technologies that can drive value-based care.
I recently came across a study showing that volume — not value — still drives physician compensation. While reading the piece, the same thought popped up again and again…
What if, instead of asking whether volume or value drives physician compensation, we took a step back and asked how technology can drive value-based care?
That’s a fascinating question to me as someone who is optimistic about technology’s potential to transform healthcare. I believe technology can not only advance value- and risk-based payment models, but also curb burnout and elevate the consumer experience.
Before I dive in, let’s go over what I discussed in my last post. (Don’t you love it when the TV show you’re currently binging starts with a quick recap of the last episode, just in case you dozed off toward the end of the last one? I sure do.) Here’s a short-and-sweet refresher:
- Open Your “Digital Front Door”
- Boost Access to Engage & Connect With Your Patients
- Continue & Expand Telehealth
Whereas my last post focused on enhancing the patient experience (PX), this post will highlight technologies that support the patient encounter. So let’s explore a few more digital tools that can help you succeed in value-based care!
Supercharge Your Electronic Health Record (EHR) Workflows
No technology plays a more pivotal role in your day-to-day workflows than your EHR. Recently, clinicians are spending even more time in the EHR. Although the overall interface of an EHR that is optimized for value-based care may not look that different from a standard, out-of-the-box EHR built for our still largely fee-for-service world, there are a few key enhancements. The most important difference is a value-focused, provider-friendly workflow.
Sure, “provider-friendly workflow” seems like a bit of a no-brainer. But too many EHRs are inflexible and mired in fee-for-service. As Rick Foerster, my esteemed colleague and bona fide expert on all things value-based, noted, an “EHR that is optimized for value-based care must include” capabilities that support:
- Risk Adjustment
- Clinical Programs
The trick is integrating all of those features into a seamless EHR experience that cuts swivel-chairing, note bloat, and cumbersome administrative work. Transitioning to value-based care requires education and practice, which can lead to growing pains. According to McKinsey, we can improve the results of value-based care by giving physicians “actionable insights for motivating behavioral change at the point of care.”
So let’s not allow clunky, outdated EHRs to complicate the process or exacerbate said growing pains. Instead, let’s lean into EHRs to assist the transition with value-based reminders, pointers, and metrics at the point of care.
Super-Duper-Charge Your EHR With Smart, Robust Data Aggregation
Healthcare’s fragmentation and ongoing issues with EHR interoperability mean that a lot of potentially useful data is floating around in a sort of purgatory. However, a well-designed and value-optimized EHR can gather and organize these disparate data points into meaningful actions.
Quiz time! Which of the following data streams does your EHR pull automatically?
- Payer-specific quality measures
- Admission-discharge transfers (ADTs) from hospitals
- Pharmacy and urgent care facility feeds
- Immunization registries
- Insurer claims
If you’re unsure, that’s okay; that was just a practice quiz. But I encourage you to dig into your EHR to see what data it’s pulling in, where it’s putting that information, and how you can utilize these data-discovery capabilities. By intelligently aggregating massive amounts of data from throughout the healthcare ecosystem, we can create comprehensive views of quality and care gaps, important historical information about patient risk, and more. This data-driven approach can help you substantiate your high-quality care to help ensure you’re fairly rewarded and compensated for the great care you deliver.
There’s much more to say about how EHRs can drive rather than stall value-based care, but let’s turn our attention to some less-obvious-though-still-powerful technologies and digital tools you can add to your arsenal.
“Hire” a Virtual Scribe
Remember that all of these digital tools are built to complement and nurture — not replace —the patient-provider relationship that is the heart of healthcare. Studies have shown that better patient-provider relationships improve health outcomes. At the same time, this vital relationship is the “gateway to value-based care.”
One technology that can strengthen the patient-provider relationship — as well as boost performance in value-based care — is a virtual scribe. This ambient technology records encounters without interfering with visits. This technology allows you to focus entirely and uninterruptedly on the patient before you instead of juggling and toggling your attention between your patient and EHR. During the encounter, a remote or AI-powered scribe records all pertinent details and sends you a timely, organized note to approve.
A virtual scribe provides benefits in both fee-for-service and value-based models:
- Patient Satisfaction. Your patients will appreciate your undivided attention. No more stealing glances at your tablet or multitasking typing and talking. You can also use this additional bandwidth to ensure you’re satisfying key value-based measures.
- More Time for (More) Patients. Virtual scribes offer significant time-savings. Researchers concluded that digital scribes can enable physicians to “spend less patient visit time on the EHR and more time with their patients improving many aspects of the visit.” You can dedicate this time saved for other clinical activities, such as reviewing value-based metrics or seeing more patients. Greater patient attribution is of tremendous value in value-based care and also benefits you in fee-for-service arrangements, which can help you bridge the two models, find equilibrium, and thrive in both.
Apps, Educational Resources, and AI — Oh My!
There are many more digital tools that can enhance value-based care performance and engage patients between visits to improve health outcomes and satisfaction. Wearables and remote patient monitoring (RPM) devices can generate useful data. Robotic process automation (RPA) can improve data accuracy and cut administrative work. The list goes on and on, but I feel like I’m going on and on, so I want to close by quickly looking at three promising technologies:
- Mobile Apps. Similar to a patient portal, mobile apps give your patients convenience, connectivity, and control. Apps are one tool to improve access, engagement, and health outcomes. For instance, apps for diabetic patients can help track chronic conditions. Chronic care management (CCM) is vital to value-based success.
- Educational Resources. Educating patients about not only their health, but also about how to navigate the healthcare system, is essential. Doing so can help engage patients, coordinate care, and avoid unexpectedly expensive encounters. For example, an online cost estimator can help patients understand where to find cost-efficient care.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI). We’re still harnessing and realizing the potential of AI, but from a value-based perspective, AI offers many opportunities. From insights into social determinants of health to data analysis, disease detection and prevention to patient engagement and education, the possible intersections of AI and value-based care are fascinating and many.
In conclusion, I want to note that now is the perfect time to analyze and advance technologies that support value-based care. The pandemic has illustrated the necessity of value-based care. However, healthcare experts are warning that value-based care’s progress may slow in 2022. Given this potential slowdown, I believe it’s critical that technological innovation steps in to continue, catalyze, and accelerate value-based payment models.