Technology road map to implement shared platforms

November 11, 2016
By Bipin Thomas

This article is the last part of a three-year technology road map series.
This is the year of supporting the organization’s growth without overburdening it with capital expenses. It can be accomplished with patient engagement platforms and software-as-a-service (SaaS). SaaS is a software licensing and delivery model in which software is licensed on a subscription basis and is centrally hosted by an organization’s technology provider. It has become a common delivery model for many business applications because it helps hospitals avoid making huge investments in hardware, software and ongoing maintenance and support costs.

Tailored SaaS should be utilized to keep hospitals competitive in the new ecosystem. These platforms are necessary for meeting new regulatory and reporting demands, maintaining and attracting consumers and improving clinical outcomes. These subscriptions can be incorporated into a hospital’s operating budget without weighing down its capital budget, thus yielding a quick ROI while avoiding any threat to a health care organization’s bond rating.

Shared platforms are an efficient avenue for improving care and saving money, and they harness other sectors’ expertise — in software design, platform upgrades and support resources — to meet the needs of the organization. These shared service platforms are HIPAA compliant and integrate with a provider’s electronic medical record (EMR) system.

Patient engagement platforms
Patient engagement is one of the key areas where shared software platforms and advanced data analytics are poised to make a tangible difference in how health care is financed, managed, delivered and accessed. Effective patient engagement platforms can significantly reduce hospital readmissions, which potentially cost the hospital money — if Medicare does not cover the readmission reason, for instance — and certainly decrease customer satisfaction. Hospitals need to cultivate continuous engagement with consumers, offering them useful information and signaling that the hospital is a partner in their health. Patient engagement platforms serve several purposes, including:

They create communities for people afflicted with the same diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or congestive heart failure, through which experiences can be shared and care treatment plans discussed. They facilitate communication between the patient and the physician team, offering a convenient avenue of communication for post-release questions and support. They capitalize on the web-based medium to stream instructional videos that convey disease management and treatment plan instructions that patients can access when, and as many times as, they wish.

They give payers and providers a way of checking in to make sure that patients understand the directions they were given at the hospital and, critically, whether or not they are following those directions, and why. Each of these aspects of continuous patient engagement figures into a meaningful feedback loop. Data about patients’ experiences with specific illnesses and treatment plans can be mined to discover unexpected complications, identify typical stumbling blocks in the aftercare period and capitalize on strategies the sufferers themselves practice. Those insights can be added to instructional videos and streamed to patients joining that community. And either payer or provider care coordinators can then assess the effectiveness of those videos.

Payer/provider collaboration platforms
The new watchwords of the payer/provider relationship are shared control and transparency — both of which require access to shared information in real time. Much has been written about payer/provider collaboration, but that’s because it is one of the most critical relationships in the new ecosystem due to these entities’ size, influence and regulatory burden. If payers and providers do not work together to deliver value jointly, they will appear too out of date and too out of touch to the new health care consumer — making both even more vulnerable to quicker, nimbler competition.

Together, payers and providers are tasked with taking on new populations and making them healthier. Targeting the largest existing costs in the system, such as chronic care, payers and providers must use newly available data to incentivize consumers to comply with care management pathways. They can leverage shared technology platforms for regular screenings, remote patient monitoring, adherence to prescription drug regimens and even lifestyle changes. When patients with chronic issues follow treatment plans correctly, providers can glean important clinical data that can improve treatment, and then feed that information back in to the payers’ selection of consumer incentives. Data integration and interoperable systems are, of course, necessary steps to effect this type of feedback.

About the author: Bipin Thomas is a renowned global thought-leader on consumer-centric health care transformation. Thomas is a board member of HealthCare Business News magazine and chairman of ICURO, a digital business outcomes management organization.