Healthcare costs in the US have ascended to almost unimaginable heights in the past several decades. According to a March 2019 study published in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA), healthcare spending went up by nearly a trillion dollars between 1996 and 2015. That same study reported that healthcare costs in 2017 totaled $3.5 trillion (or roughly about $11,000 per person) and it is projected that by 2027, those costs will nearly double to an incredible $6 trillion! If you’re following along and doing the math that means the per-person outlays would jump to $17,000 per US citizen.
High insurance premiums, tall deductibles, co-pays, and other out-of-pocket expenses are just some overheads patients have to face for adequate health and wellness in this country. But these premiums are only a piece of the puzzle. Americans are paying more than ever before which is causing new influx patients to turn away from hospitals and looking towards alternative care options.
The Rise of Costs & the Fall of Traditional Care
As Americans crave a wider range of care delivery options to help offset their out-of-pocket expenses, physicians’ practices and other ambulatory centers have noticed a drastic uptick in inpatient visits. According to a 2018 industry analysis conducted by PwC, 60% of those surveyed with employer-based insurance, reported receiving care in an ambulatory setting or private doctor’s office for services they would have otherwise gone to an acute care center or hospital for.
With more and more patients moving away from traditional hospital care, outpatient facilities are doing everything they can to decrease spending and improve the quality of patient care. Ambulatory centers are helping to advance their care services to offset patient out-of-pocket expenses through the use of better care coordination and integrated technologies.
Better Care Coordination through the use of HIT
Care coordination involves purposefully organizing patient care activities and sharing information among all clinical participants concerned with that individual patient. The main objective of care coordination is to meet a patient’s needs and preferences in the delivery of high-quality and valuable care. While the need for care coordination is clear, there are obstacles in the American healthcare system that a provider must overcome to provide this level of care. The primary one being a meaningful use of healthcare technology for increased interoperability.
Benefits of Interoperability
The most important healthcare interoperability measurement is how much time it takes a provider to find relevant health information across disparate health IT systems. In a world where time is money, any period that a physician or their staff spends searching for data is time spent away from the patient and efforts that could be reallocated to more meaningful functions.
The technology is out there and many remote outpatient facilities and physicians’ practices are utilizing it to not only easily find and access accurate and fully classified patient data but to simultaneously share those same medical records with colleagues and other physicians from anywhere within their health system. Many top US health systems, such as Einstein Healthcare Network, are utilizing these types of healthcare technology to share documents between various departments within their health system.
To learn more about how Einstein Health is reducing annual overtime spend and operational efficiencies within their physicians’ practices and outpatient facilities, check out this case study, where Barbara Carr, Einstein’s VP of Health Information discusses how their health system was able to save over 235+ hours a week filing and retrieving medical records.