In our previous post in the Opportunities for Digital Transformation of the Healthcare Ecosystem in 2018 and Beyond series, we shared some information and ideas on the technologies and services that health plans and payers might consider as they progress into the second half of 2018 and beyond. In this post, we present a deeper dive into digital technologies and services for hospitals and health systems to consider as they transform their healthcare organizations in the remainder of 2018 and into the next year.
Hospitals & Health Systems Services and Technologies in 2018
With the ability to generate revenue growth from inpatient services declining year over year, hospitals and health systems are under tremendous pressure to reduce costs. Moreover, government and private payers are demanding cost decreases and shifting reimbursement to value-based programs.
As healthcare continues to evolve in the rapidly advancing and uncertain United States healthcare system, we believe the following are key areas of opportunity for hospitals & health systems:
- Achieving Cost Efficiencies and Supply Chain Management
- Extending Electronic Health Records (EHR) with Complimentary Technologies
- Engaging Patients and Management via Customer Relationship Management Tools
- Core Services & Technologies for Engaging Today’s Healthcare Consumer
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) Can Amplify Physician Intelligence
- Enhanced Revenue Cycle Management (RCM)
- Smartphones and Secure Mobile Communications
- The Internet of (Medical) Things (IoT)
- Blockchain Technologies
Moreover, the shift to value-based programs is adding new patient engagement, data collection, and quality measurement demands on hospital organizations that have heretofore not previously had to deal with. And the growth of Medicaid and Medicare programs – a major historical source of hospital inpatient revenue – is shifting focus to other settings including outpatient and the home. And recent regulatory programs like the 21st Century Cures Act and the Chronic Care Act are opening new opportunities for all healthcare stakeholders.
Achieving Cost Efficiencies and Supply Chain Management – Key to Value-based Care
Within five years, most all healthcare services will be based on managing some level of risk. As value-based care models have pressured hospitals to decrease their inpatient volumes, meet outcomes goals and provide care that’s cost-effective, hospitals are implementing systems and technologies such as:
- Performance analytics will be needed to help earn outcome-based bonus payments
- Applications to identify, understand and document patient and population risk
- Tools to support resource allocation and utilization reporting at the point of care
- AI-backed services that support decision making at the point of care
These new payment arrangements and performance measurement programs are forcing hospital administrators and health system executives to implement technologies and services for managing the total cost of care. Often not only for their own organization but also for providers outside of their organization with who they do business.
Extending Electronic Health Records with Complimentary Technologies
Over the past decade, EHRs have been widely adopted by hospitals and health systems. They have become the central repository for collecting patient data. Now, these healthcare organizations are looking for ways to optimize their use and help EHR users become more productive. A primary way to enhance the significant investment hospitals have made in the EHR platforms is to integrate with analytics and artificial intelligence-based tools to amplify the intelligence of the physicians, clinical staff and others who use the platform on a daily basis.
See Artificial Intelligence Can Amplify Physician Intelligence below
Some ways that hospitals and health systems are enhancing their EHR’s include incorporating emergency alerts, patient risk scoring to provide early warning of potential issues and other predictive analytics to aid patient diagnosis and care. Regardless of the functionality that hospitals choose to enhance their EHR platforms, they’ll need to consider and address interoperability, security, and usability challenges.
Engaging Patients Using Customer Relationship Management Tools
Healthcare consumers and patients are demanding that hospitals make patient experience a top priority and provide convenience and efficiency through innovative technologies. A recent report by Black Book Research lists the following digital technologies and services for hospitals and health systems to engage today’s healthcare consumer:
- Digital provider tools (93%)
- Virtual access points (85%)
- Online scheduling (97%)
- Online payment options (92%)
- Price transparency (94%)
But only 9% of total providers reported the ability to offer these consumer demands successfully in the Black Book survey of hospitals and physicians.
Core Services & Technologies for Engaging Today’s Healthcare Consumer
|Digital Services to Support Patient Experience|
|Prescription Drug-Related||Laboratory Services|
|Online prescription pricing||Personal laboratory analyses|
|Prescription refilling and delivery||Online lab testing|
|Personalized medication management||Patient-Provider Communication|
|Telemedicine/Telehealth||Engagement and education platform|
|Virtual health clinic||Patient/caregiver communications|
|Virtual health visits||Provider Search & Scheduling|
|App-based telemedicine||Patient/doctor matching|
|Chat/Text-based telemedicine||Provider locator and matching|
|Online behavioral health support||Urgent care visit scheduling|
|Financial||Privacy & Security|
|Payment planning and processing||Patient data protection|
Artificial Intelligence Can Amplify Physician Intelligence
Huge amounts of healthcare data is created every day: structured, semi-structured, unstructured, binary and text. A lot of this data is stored in EHR’s and a lot is not. Most of this data provides immediate value to the physician and others responsible for providing patient care. And other data may provide value for other purposes including some currently not even understood.
Artificial intelligence processes built on a blockchain can amplify the intelligence of physicians and other providers of care – both human and machine – by sorting through these huge data stores and gathering the most valuable information. A few innovative companies are adding ‘Intelligence Amplification’ to their healthcare applications.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Capabilities
According to the American Hospital Association, 60% of US hospitals use CRMs; but these CRM’s are not typically integrated with the core hospital EHR and other clinical and administrative systems. CRM capabilities are particularly important to be able to track, nurture and improve patient relationships and to gather the healthcare-specific clinical, operational and administrative data needed to report customer satisfaction metrics critical to measuring value-based relationships.
CRM’s are also a core technology needed to be able to track the non-medical, social determinants of health increasingly viewed as the key to improving overall health outcomes and reducing costs.
Enhanced Revenue Cycle Management
Revenue cycle management (RCM) has always been an important consideration for hospitals and health systems. And declining reimbursement rates, the growth in value-based care, and growing hospital participation in Accountable Care Organizations have only increased the importance of RCM solutions to hospitals and health systems. Areas of functionality to consider include:
- Data Analytics
- Denial Management
- Enhanced Patient Payment Options
- Business Intelligence Solutions
- Tools for Managing Payer Contracts
Smartphones and Secure Mobile Communications
As hospitals begin to provide more virtual care via telemedicine and use more remote monitoring of patients discharged to the home, the demand for devices, tools and services to monitor, collect and distribute a patient’s health status and activities of daily living is growing. Smart phones, machine-to-machine interfaces and other cloud-based technologies can provide bi-directional communications on a real-time basis.
The Internet of (Medical) Things
As value-based care drives hospitals to move from reactive patient care to proactive patient care, leveraging interlinked medical devices and applications in the Internet of Things becomes more important. This is especially important as hospitals increase their focus on providing more outpatient and home-based services.
Furthermore, IoT sensors and other measurement devices provide value to hospital patients, staff, and physicians at the point of care in ways previously unimaginable – whether that point of care is in the hospital or in patient’s homes. It can assist with monitoring vital signs, determining dosing decisions and sending alerts on a real-time basis – both to the care providers and the patient’s medical record for documentation purposes. The ability for patients to recover in their homes promises more cost-effective and efficient healthcare services.
Only recently have companies been able to address patient information security and privacy concerns, the dearth of IoT technology skills, and immature clinical-grade mobile applications that have heretofore restrained adoption of IoT technologies at hospitals and health systems. Finally, when combined with artificial intelligence, big data analytics, and blockchain technologies, the IoT can provide competitive safety and security advantages to patients as well as the physicians and hospital staff.
Blockchain Technology at Hospitals and Health Systems
Hospitals generate terabytes of data on important clinical and financial patient matters on a daily basis. And recording, validating, and complying with common sense business needs, HIPAA security and other government regulations can involve a lot of manual effort and expense.
Blockchain technologies support new opportunities for ensuring the accuracy, security and reliability of the huge amounts of data that hospitals and health systems create and use. Some of the hospital-based functions and services that blockchain promises to improve include:
- Securing patient medical records
- Risk adjustment tracking and coding
- Maintaining master patient indexes
- Payer contract Management
- Revenue cycle management
- Facilitating medical compliance audits
- Proving integrity of clinical decisions and test results
- Reducing audit expenses and ensure data security
Next in the Series: Services and Technologies for Physicians & Medical Practices in 2018 and Beyond
Like hospitals and health systems, physicians and medical practices are under intense market, regulatory and cost pressures. And they face similar challenges – and opportunities – as do hospitals and health systems. In the next post in our series, we’ll take a more detailed look into the services and technologies that physicians and medical practices have in the remainder of 2018 and beyond.
Reach out to AAJ Technologies for insight and assistance on the digital technologies and services for hospitals and health systems listed in this post.
Additional reading for Executives Regarding Digital Technologies and Services for Hospitals and Health Systems