5 Promising Healthcare Changes, Initiatives, and Investments

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For many, the New Year starts off with promise and excitement as new initiatives are launched to capture the next big thing. At Intermountain Healthcare we have the same excitement and anticipation; 2015 is going to be full of innovation. We wanted to know what other healthcare leaders thought the top initiative would be in the upcoming year, so we asked. Based on a national survey conducted by Intermountain, here are five promising changes and innovations leaders feel have the potential to improve quality and/or lower the cost curve of healthcare in the U.S.:

 

No. 1: New Payment Models

Nearly one-in-three respondents mentioned new payment models as having the greatest potential to impact healthcare quality and costs. This included moving away from fee-for-service and toward risk-based or pay-for-performance incentive models. In other words, paying based on outcomes as well as on services rendered—and payment models that are aligned with better quality and lower cost.

This change in payment philosophy also moves us towards greater transparency of pricing, quality, and safety information. When all parties become better informed decision-makers, typically results in a reduction of overall costs and improved care and satisfaction. Intermountain is supportive of this movement as we, too, are creating a payment model that aligns physician incentives with desired outcomes. 

 

No. 2: Electronic Medical Records

More than one-in-four respondents mentioned the usage, expansion, and continued sophistication of electronic medical records (EMR) as a space for innovation and investment. The EMR market is as fierce as it has ever been. These systems must create efficiencies in clinical care and operations while providing accurate data to improve outcomes. The real power of an EMR goes beyond digital record keeping. These applications must actually become clinical tools with decision support logic and prompts to support evidence-based care.

 

No. 3: Preventive Care

One-in-five respondents said the move to preventing illness, disease, and readmissions through greater education, promotion of therapies to prevent disease, and development of personal healthy lifestyle habits will help keep people well.

The goal is improving treatment of patients with chronic illness and doing that in a preventive manner rather than a reactive manner. Keeping these patients out of the hospital and reducing the number of patients who require higher-cost care will help both improve quality and also reduce costs.

 

No. 4: Team-Based and Coordinated Patient Care Models

Use of team-based and coordinated care will help increase efficiency, avoid redundancy, improve patient compliance, and reduce costs, according to the leaders’ survey. A team-based approach brings together talented caregivers to provide the best care outcomes possible. These care teams and other professionals should consider the patient as an essential part of the team, working with them to provide the best care.

At Intermountain Healthcare, we’ve long had such care teams; one example is our behavioral health program. This works by first, utilizing our mental health assessment tool that activates a team consultation workflow. Second, we designed an operational system in which mental health specialists and nurse care managers are included as part of the primary care staff. Third, we evaluate the program regularly to monitor patient outcomes, team effectiveness, and the culture of healthcare delivery from the perspective of the patient and the care provider.

 

No. 5:  Greater Transparency

Healthcare leaders also identified increasing transparency and accountability at every level: patient, employer, doctor, hospital, and insurance company. The result is a partnership focused on outcomes and delivery of highly effective healthcare.

Improving transparency through better communication of treatment options, clear care details, as well as care expenses, will build trust with patients and help them make more informed decisions. Data-sharing and new payment models emphasizing outcomes will help improve the quality of care while slowing the rise in costs. Many see transparency as a key to success in the healthcare industry.  The sentiment is changing from a “should provide” to a “need to provide” attitude.

 

The survey was conducted in 2014 on behalf of Intermountain Healthcare by Christensen+Associates. The study asked respondents to identify major changes, innovations, initiatives, or investments that have the greatest potential to improve the quality and/or lower the cost curve of healthcare in the United States.