By Nancy Pratt
Health systems across the country are advancing into a new healthcare economy that prioritizes the quality of patient visits over the quantity, and rewards providers for helping their patients live healthier lives in an evidence-based way. Gone are the days when hospitals only interacted with patients facing acute illness or a health emergency.
By encouraging health systems to link episodes of care together, value-based care will work to expose cost inefficiencies. For example, health systems are realizing that having fewer hospital beds filled may mean longer and more expensive outpatient care for a condition that could have been remedied within a few days in an inpatient setting, or prevented at home with remote monitoring technology and health coaching. Value-based care requires health systems to look beyond their four walls and continuously engage with those they serve, and achieve unprecedented visibility into cost, quality and risk across multiple settings and data sources.
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While value-based care is on nearly everyone’s radar, it can be difficult to accomplish successfully. Historically, it has proved difficult to define patient care quality. Value-based care provides a new lens through which to view patient care, and lays the foundation for a future in which all stakeholders must collaborate to achieve seamless care delivery. Many healthcare leaders question how to begin their organization’s transition. However, regardless of the health system, one thing is certain: the value-based care journey starts with having timely and actionable data as we manage what we measure.
EHR’s limitations in value-based care
The drive to quality over quantity requires an understanding of the current healthcare environment. A recent survey reported that while the majority of healthcare organizations say they are prepared to change to the new payment system, half of respondents acknowledged their value-based technology infrastructure is not strong enough. In the age of value-based care, providers need to be able to accurately report patient data and monitor complex patients across multiple providers. However, the relative lack of true interoperability in healthcare means that physicians often struggle to aggregate the right patient data at the point of care.
This challenge is partially due to the mass implementation of electronic health records (EHRs) with the launch of Meaningful Use under the Affordable Care Act. This drove massive adoption of electronic order entry and enterprise EHRs, which required health systems to reorganize workflows to work with their EHR. Rather than streamlining care coordination as intended, it often left a disconnect in its wake, with inpatient and outpatient systems that do not communicate. Health systems are now typically operating under numerous different EHRs throughout their network, and patient data scattered across those EHRs. As a result, physicians may be unable to deliver quick and informed care decisions without easy access to the right patient data.