Healthcare is constantly evolving, and healthcare IT in particular is undergoing more change now than at any other point in history. Health systems trying to ‘ride the wave’ of change may often feel like they are implementing updates, only to face a new regulation, technology, or best suggested practice that shakes up the process yet again. While it is challenging to stay current, health systems looking to stay relevant need to constantly re-evaluate their processes and whether they are as efficient as possible. While these organizations can’t always predict what comes next, the triple aim of reducing costs, improving outcomes, and enhancing patient satisfaction, provides a solid framework for thinking ahead.
So how do you know where you are on the healthcare wave?
- Is your health system constantly making significant investments to create a better digital presence to go along with an integrated provider network? Are you requiring your legacy vendors to unblock clinically relevant data residing within your infrastructure? Are you always seeking out new, patient-centric solutions that meet the patient in cost-effective and convenient venues? Are you integrating emerging mobile technologies, such as wearables and remote monitoring options, into provider workflows? If so, then you’re likely in front of the wave. This group is willing to take a risk and senses the winds of change before regulations are implemented across the industry. This group recognizes the importance of making investments in technologies that promote interoperability like social, mobile, artificial intelligence, and cloud. They start meeting patients and providers in the mobile space before being asked. They’re exploring long-term strategies, both digital and physical, for patient and community relationships beyond alternative payment models. Progression is not always linear, but members of this cohort are opportunistic and constantly seeking ways to move faster and push the industry forward. The potential advantage of being in front of the wave is that you will have more direct input with innovative technology partners on how solutions can be directly tied to operational and quality improvements that are most relevant for you. Being too early is only a risk if you are not active and creative on partnering for objective proof of value.
- Does your health system explore risk-taking with keen observation? Does your health system seek out and create digital, clinical, and operational relationships that aim to improve patient experience, contain referrals within your network, while fostering better relationships down the road? If so, sounds like you’re on the wave. This group tends to stay aware of the ever-changing healthcare landscape to track potential future demands. Riding this part of the wave can be valuable in order to keep treading water before big changes occur, but competition and the consumerization of healthcare will undoubtedly disrupt their market sooner rather than later. The potential advantage here is the ability to quickly follow-on to innovative solutions that have been pioneered and proven elsewhere. This de-risking is however tempered by having less of a direct input to how innovative partners steer their product direction to accommodate your most pressing needs.
- Is your health system still trying to find value in technology throughout your network where the majority of your IT brain trust is managing plans to accommodate meaningful use, ICD-10, and general technology adoption? Are you caught in the inpatient process improvement cycle that focuses less on the portability of data and more on the number of clicks in your EMR? If so, then you’re likely behind the wave. The members of this group are being lulled into believing the status quo will be acceptable in the future primarily because there isn’t a silver bullet solution around value-based reimbursement, or might be located in markets where inadequate health insurance coverage and uncontrolled chronic conditions decimate their financial performance. This group is typically grappling with issues on their windshield, leaving them with little or no ability to make investments that can help ensure future success. Behind-the-wave organizations are putting very little focus on the community of care beyond the inpatient settings and the digital presence both the providers and patients will be demanding.
Conquering the healthcare wave
The first step to surfing the healthcare IT wave more efficiently is determining where your organization is located on the wave. Realizing where you are and how it compares to your organization’s goals can help you determine how best to stay relevant in today’s healthcare landscape. No matter where your system falls on the wave, interoperability, mobility, and connectivity are the three integral parts that can improve efficiency while also creating a social and mobile environment that enables the best patient care possible.