Health systems are facing several pressures based on the current and projected state of cardiovascular services. Growth is declining and reimbursement trends will squeeze margins of a service line that most health systems depend on for survival. Maintaining competitive advantage in capturing a larger share of a shrinking pie as well as in driving next generation cost efficiency will require care pathway innovation. Thoughtful application of mobile technology can enable this innovation, and for many reasons the cardiovascular service line is particularly well suited for mobility.
- Excellence in treating acute events is the old bar – The new bar will be excellence in managing cardiovascular disease and preventing unnecessary care escalation. Most people are aware that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. and costs more than $100 billion each year according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Research shows that out of 123 million visits to the emergency department, nearly 18 percent – 22 million – suffer from cardiovascular-related illnesses. Nearly all STEMI patients end up in the ICU. Medicare and commercial payers will increasingly demand the ability for health systems to engage and manage cardiac patients in more cost effective ways – outside the walls of the hospital. Mobile technology will play a critical role in connecting busy clinicians with high risk patients in near real time to prevent avoidable care escalation.
- If mobility can address minutes, imagine what it can do for hours or days – As Alan Portela mentioned in his last post, there are volumes of data establishing that in the acute phase, when things go wrong, there is clear and compelling evidence showing that minutes matter. To that end, mobility needs to be incorporated into any process that focuses on expediting care decisions, bringing near real-time information to clinicians, and enabling the ability to access patient data anytime, anywhere). That said, there is even far more low-hanging fruit in the realm of NSTEMI patients in observation status. Mobility can connect remote decision-making physicians with patients, bedside caregivers, and a streamlined single source of truth across multiple data sources to shave hours off a typical observation stay. In the outpatient setting, clinicians will need to intervene for high-risk patients with CHF, CHD, and complex dysrhythmias on a much more real-time basis to prevent avoidable ED visits or days of inpatient care.
- It’s highly visual – Cardiovascular disease management lends itself extremely well to visual displays. From ECGs, waveforms of monitors and telemetry, echocardiograms, or vascular flows – the service area is highly visual and data-rich. Today, physicians having access to the multiple data sources in a single, customized, mobile view is a difference-maker. Text does not relay the same information that seeing the actual waveform does. Receiving these images in diagnostic-quality on mobile devices will make a big impact.
Despite slowing growth, the cardiovascular service line is still every hospital’s bread and butter, and it will continue to be a leading population health concern. With the pressure on health systems to reduce costs, improve quality of care and move to new payment models, focusing on innovation in cardiovascular services will ultimately put health systems in a better position to share risk more effectively. It’s just another way that mobility has the potential to transform the fundamental model of a hospital-based enterprise and ensure the improved health of populations.