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FOTO Rehab Outcomes Blog

2018 Information Technology Focus: the Digital World

As I was reviewing the American Hospital Association and AVIA Executive Report on the Digital Innovation Survey results, I can see that the collective healthcare "we" are really scrambling to improve what we do on a day to day basis.  Executives along with providers truly need data to help in making decisions and to improve care pathways. One of the biggest factors driving information technology needs is a higher amount of value based payment contracts.

information-technology-patient-reported-outcome-measuresOne theme in the executive report revolved around the idea of the right patient seeing the right provider at the right time.  In order to really meet this need, a whole spectrum of options needs to be considered. Within the options, another component required to consider is the final outcome for each option. In the upcoming Data Trends in U.S. Healthcare and Patient Rehabilitation - Focus: Patient Characteristics, Patient Outcomes and Clinical Performance, it is easily seen that patients may not be reaching rehabilitation professionals at the right time. An alarming trend is a long, long waiting period before beginning rehabilitation services. A digital solution can provide insight as to when patients are receiving services.

In the above mentioned theme, another component is the idea of the "right provider." This brings into the picture the touchy subject that not all providers are equal in their talent or outcomes. With the increase in value based contracts, providers need to deliver results. The "right" provider is the one who can do this efficiently and effectively. A digital solution can help match each patient with the provider that will have the highest probability of achieving the desired outcomes. 

I found it interesting that executives are interested in patient generated data. In rehabilitation, this tends to be a bit easier than other areas of medical practice. Patient reported outcome measures are an integral component in delivering rehabilitation services. Tracking change in functional ability helps make clinical decisions such as whether to continue or discontinue services. With the right digital solution, clinicians may also be able to determine if the patient is progressing as predicted. Digital solutions that include predictive analytics allow for more insight into how well an individual patient is responding compared to similar patients.

Patient retention was mentioned within another theme.  To me, retention creates an image of being very controlling and demanding, like "keep patients." If we think about therapeutic alliance, a better term would be patient engagement. What we really want are patient so engaged that they are actively involved in the services they are receiving and are part of the relationship being created between the providers within the brand. Although a digital solution may provide assistance in this, it really comes down to human to human connections.

The top reason hospital executives are seeking digital solutions is to assist with measuring and managing quality.  This need will require aggregated data. The best aggregated data will be risk adjusted to help provide fair comparisons, especially now that value based contracts are becoming more and more prevalent. Digital solutions are probably the only option for providing these metrics.

Within any business operation, a factor always considered prior to implementing any solution is cost. Over half of hospital leaders are not ready to implement a digital solution due to financial reasons. Executives are not able to definitively see a return on investment for digital solutions. It is reasonable to include return on investment in the decision making process. A digital solution for rehabilitation purposes may increase return on investment. If a product allows clinicians to be more productive, helps create highly engaged patients (attending all scheduled visits) and generates new referrals, then it is possible to determine the tipping point of when a return on investment will occur. To help you think about return on investment specific to rehabilitation services, you may read more here.

Until next time,

~Selena 

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