Future of Health Care: Keeping the Patients in Mind

imagesThe key to successful health care technology is making sure it improves both the patient experience and the quality of care. While technology is sometimes seen as a barrier to human connection and interaction, the right tools can transform the health care experience for the patient. At Dignity Health, our focus for 2015 is centered on making population health a reality by looking toward the ambulatory side of care. The mobility strategy we put in place in 2014 is enabling us to empower our providers and care teams with telehealth solutions so they can have alternate ways to connect with and care for their patients.

As we take on more risk and value-based contracts, we need to manage our patients’ care differently than in the past. We need to provide cheaper and more convenient care to a bigger population. Today, the typical doctor’s visit requires a trip to the brick-and-mortar office location. However, there is a significant opportunity to better engage patients and encourage them to seek medical attention by conducting virtual visits. We should work to reach them where they are, providing more choice, options, and transparency – all without sacrificing quality. Meeting this final criterion requires providing the care team with easy access to integrated data that offers a full picture view of the patient’s health.

As we move into 2015, we are working on a number of projects to improve the quality and convenience of care at Dignity Health including:

  • Increasing access by creating virtual urgent care centers or clinics where patients can reach a Dignity Health doctor on demand;
  • Providing patients with video visits as an alternative to traditional visits, given the interest of patients in meeting and interacting with their primary care doctors or specialists;
  • Monitoring patients via video so physicians and care managers can see their patients in their home environment. Physicians can also arm patients with home monitoring equipment once they are discharged from the hospital so they can track vitals, weight, oxygen levels, etc. without the patient ever having to step outside their front door.

Marrying virtual solutions with patient data helps create an environment that makes patients feel comfortable in their own space and reduces wait times and missing work, while still ensuring they feel their caregiver understands their environment and is making confident and personally relevant care decisions.  While some say technology creates a barrier, when implemented strategically, technology can actually make patients feel more connected, engaged, and satisfied with their care.

Davin Lundquist, MD is VP/CMIO of Dignity Health of San Francisco, CA. Lundquist graduated from the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine in 1999. He specializes in Family Medicine and is affiliated with Saint Johns Regional Medical Center and Saint Johns Pleasant Valley Hospital. He speaks English and Spanish.