The healthcare sector is seeing rapid change, driven through digital technologies. This includes the Internet making research faster for doctors; technology helping doctors provide better diagnosis; and the use of tablets for taking notes in our exam room.
These changes come with new demands for clinicians and hospitals and in turn insurance companies. One downside, expressed by some patients, is to widen the gap between patient and medic.
In relation to the U.S. scheme of value-based reimbursements, doctors need to consider more the value of each of their patient visits. A new solution to bring value and the human factor back into the patient-doctor relationship is CareThrough, a 360° care management solution. The platform is designed to help navigate value-based requirements. Digital Journal spoke with Craig Newman, Chief Strategy Officer of HealthChannels.
Digital Journal: Thanks for the interview. What are the challenges facing healthcare today?
Craig Newman: Thank you for having me. The healthcare industry is in the middle of a profoundly challenging, yet exciting transition. There is a shift from fee-for-service care delivery, when a physician was reimbursed for billable hours, and number of tests performed, to a value-based model.
As the population ages, more than 10,000 people turn 65 every day. Today’s providers are treating an increased number of patients with multiple chronic illnesses. Healthcare systems are also responsible for assessing care protocols for entire communities, not just in the clinical setting, but also in-between visits.
DJ: How about the doctor-patient relationship?
Newman: The doctor-patient relationship has evolved largely as a result of technological innovations. The amount of time doctors spend with their patients has significantly declined. You may remember when a family doctor spent a considerable amount of time listening to you describe your symptoms. Now with Electronic Medical Records, they may be at a computer in the room typing as you speak. One study shows that for every hour a doctor spends with patients, they’re spending two hours performing other ancillary tasks.
DJ: How can value-based reimbursements help with this issue?
Newman: Through new CMS codes, providers are incentivised to develop compassionate care teams that utilize technology to stay in tune with what is going on in their patient’s lives. There is now a code that allows providers to be reimbursed for connecting with patients for twenty minutes either by phone, email or even within the EMR. Unfortunately, many of those underlying clerical challenges still exist that prevent doctors from spending more time with patients.
That’s where our HealthChannels family of solutions come in, whether through the EHR documentation support provided by our medical scribes via ScribeAmerica, or navigator services offered through CareThrough.
DJ: What type of digital technology is needed to achieve this?
Newman: Providers have more access to what we call “actionable data” collected and updated by a navigator. They are more in tune with what is going on with their patients in between visits. Before the process of practicing medicine involved analysing symptoms presented, now the doctor can look into the Electronic Medical Records and see what medications another doctor may have provided you with that could be causing complications. The amount of information across the care continuum is more accessible.
DJ: What services does CareThrough provide?
Newman: CareThrough provides 360 degree turn-key services to help identify at-risk patients, optimize work flow, reduce administrative burned, and actively engage patients in their healthcare journey. Combined with next-generation technology, CareThrough provides transparency and data insights to keep patients healthier for longer.
DJ: What do the navigation coordinators do?
Newman: Care Coordination is not one-size fits all, and differs from patient to patient and across regions. Our navigators are highly trained to measurably improve clinical efficiency whether in an Emergency Department or multi-bed tertiary hospital. Navigators reach out and act as a liaison between the care teams and the patients.
DJ: How did you develop CareThrough?
Newman: With over a decade in the healthcare industry we consistently ask ourselves “What do our clients need in order to provide lifesaving care, and how can we facilitate their goals?” We think the doctor-patient relationship is the heart of medicine. Our founder is a physician who strives to ensure patients have a positive experience, and doctors don’t get burned out.
DJ: What has been the response from the medical profession?
Newman: We recently had a CEO of a health system praise a care navigator for authentically connecting with patients to arrange transportation and assess care plans. It’s difficult to measure quality care, but this health systems was able to provide unparalleled service with a navigator embedded in their care team.
DJ: How have patient’s responded?
Newman: At first patients are a bit weary of adding another person into their personal lives, there is a lot of information sharing, but once they are introduced to their navigator, and realize that they are a knowledgeable resource for them to turn to with questions, care navigation can be a game changer for patients and families. The key is consistency in communication after the patient leaves the care setting.
DJ: What has the take-up of the service been like?
Newman: We’re thrilled by the response so far and hope to expand our initiatives throughout the U.S. The HealthChannels family is uniquely differentiated from other healthcare companies through a highly intelligent, low cost, integrated work force that is able to work side-by-side with providers. This is appealing to healthcare systems that are looking for ways to successfully make the shift to value-based care.