The healthcare industry is standing on the edge of a precipice. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated a looming shortage of resources, sending many people working in the clinical field into early retirement, while others developed burnout or left for other, less stressful, fields. People, disposable resources, and finances alike have been stretched thin and, at the end of the day we’re left with a healthcare system teetering on the edge of massive change. How that change takes shape is yet to be seen, but two things we know for sure: firstly, we must do more with less, and secondly, we can’t lose sight of the triple aim. Our main objectives in healthcare are to improve the experience of care, improve population health, and lower the costs of care.
1. Supplement Your Existing Staff with Remote Resources
There is a documented correlation between increased patient engagement and successful outcomes. One way to achieve consistent patient outreach, with limited in-office resources, is by implementing a remote care team to supplement your in-office resources. By keeping certain functions separate from your day-to-day operations you can ensure that your teams are fully focused on individual but complementary priorities. Remote care managers can drive consistency of care between office visits and drive more patients who are due for in-office visits back into the office. Remote team members can drive compliance with preventative care measures, direct patients to appropriate resources and schedule and confirm new appointments.
By leveraging a third party and the care management approach, access to additional staff and additional patient support is revenue neutral and puts no additional burden on the practice resources.
2. Increase Preventative Care Compliance
Preventative care is critical to healthcare, yet, every year people opt out of simple measures that will keep them well long-term. Whether it be an annual wellness visit, a flu shot or a cancer screening, study after study has shown that staying on top of your health proactively leads to better outcomes – clinically and financially. Programs like care management, which provide consistent outreach to high-risk patients, can lead to a significant increase in participation with preventative care. The simple acts of discussing with patients what is available to them, reminding them to participate, and then following up to ensure that they have, is integrated into any good care management program.
3. Drive Efficiency Through Technology Adoption
New technologies that streamline the healthcare model are being introduced at historic levels, and while some have fallen flat others have the potential to revolutionize the industry, just as EHRs did when they came onto the scene. The technologies that will make a true difference today are the ones built to enhance, rather than replace, human interactions.
A critical success factor for implementing new technologies into your own business is how seamlessly that tool can be used to enhance your pre-existing processes. No one has the time or energy these days for complex implementations that divert precious resources. If it is too hard to implement, maintain, access or use – it simply won’t be effective. When looking at new technology options the best question to ask is, “Does this technology enhance my workflow and improve my patient care?” If the answer is yes, it’s worth looking into.
4. Strengthen Coordination of Care Outside of the Office
Patients living with chronic illness are one of the largest demographics being impacted by scarcity of resources. More efficiently managing the care of this specific population can have a meaningful downstream impact on the organization as a whole. The positive outcomes from this program can include fewer “no-shows” for in-office appointments, better, more robust documentation and coding in the EHR, and more information about barriers, medication reconciliation, other care providers and health challenges to inform your in-office discussion.
5. Understand and Improve Your Quality Measures
It can be difficult to understand where to focus these days. Knowing where you are already successful and where there may be an opportunity for improvement is a critical step improvement, without wasting time and resource. You don’t have to improve in every single area to make a difference; you know your patient population better than everyone else. Be selective, determine what they would benefit most from, and bring in experts to get the job done, if needed. Practical, incremental steps towards improvement will ensure changes you make are implemented well and are easier to sustain long-term.