By: Ryan Beckland, President and Co-Founder, Validic
We all know that we need to move toward creating a value-based care system and patient-generated health data is vital to that transition. But not everyone understands how quickly we need to move. There are significant business risks to hospitals and health systems that do not adopt and utilize digital health. Let me tell you why.
Our challenges in healthcare today are less technical and more process-oriented. We have the technology to capture and deliver necessary patient data. We have the tools to provide data visualization and analytics to operationalize that data within current workflow and processes. What we are lacking is adoption and utilization. Oftentimes, this is attributed to questions surrounding physician buy-in or skepticism regarding digital health. Candidly, this is the wrong approach to discussing patient-generated health data.
Physicians want to provide better care. They want to help their patients live healthier lifestyles. But with current regulatory requirements and workflow inefficiencies, some clinicians feel technology has diminished their ability to provide better care. Right now, one in two physicians is dissatisfied and demoralized, according to a recent survey by the Physician Leaders Foundation. And, this is for a multitude of reasons, but data collection is a large factor.
In some cases, physicians have just minutes with patients - the industry average is seven. It is not an uncommon experience that most of that time is spent entering notes at a computer or on an iPad. According to a recent feature in Forbes citing an American Medical Association study, physicians spend about 27 percent of their in-office time with patients and almost 50 percent of their time entering information into the electronic health record (EHR) or completing paperwork. But, even when physicians are with patients, the study found they were averaging 37 percent of that time entering information into the EHR or completing paper.
We are not enabling physicians to be present when they’re providing care. And, we are potentially missing out on a lot of patient information. This is part of what is entrenching us in episodic care. The focus on entering notes rather than talking to and examining the patient is also a key driver of patient dissatisfaction.
This lack of physician-to-patient engagement is a challenge that makes it difficult to reach desired outcomes – especially when patients are responsible for accurately relaying readings, in some cases, months or weeks later, and providers are forced to rely on that self-reported data to provide care. However, providers do not always receive the data or are not equipped with the tools to catch an alarming reading or trends until after a negative health event occurs.
This doesn’t have to be the case. It’s about implementing the tools to access and deliver the necessary data from outside the clinical setting, and processing that patient data in a way that delivers the right insights to the physician at the right time, so that he or she can take the appropriate action. The technology to execute on this exists. And, we need to build these tools into the current workflow, care programs and billing processes.
We don’t have a choice. Providers are looking at a situation where more patients are eligible for care than ever before; there is a growing elderly population needing regular management and treatment; more physicians are entering retirement; and fewer physicians entering the workforce.
For physicians and care teams, the data generated outside of the four walls of the physician’s office is key to the context of care. Providing a continuum of care that extends outside the hospital will ultimately move us from episodic, reactive care to holistic, preventative-based medicine. Although providers encourage preventative health measures with their patients today, many wait for a health crisis to occur before they’re willing to engage and take action. And, the good news is patients are willing to create better relationships with their providers. Ninety percent of patients surveyed say they are ready and willing to partner with their providers for a healthier life.
We are approaching a reshaping of health care – health systems need to streamline processes and develop new models of care to survive. And, the industry needs to utilize the value and impact derived from patient-generated health data.