Before writing this blog, I noted that despite the on-going discussion about health care legislation and the gridlock that it’s created in our Congress, hospitals are changing.
A recent healthcare article noted that hospital spending for technology and telecommunications in the next two years has grown at a fantastic rate and will continue in the near future as hospitals try to coordinate better care.
While the question regarding the biggest challenge to care providers can be debated, my sense is that the following themes are at the top of the list for most care facilities:
1. Decreasing re-admission rates – This was always a goal for most hospitals. My view is that the legislation’s linkage of a decrease in re-admission rates thrust this from the background to the forefront of the healthcare discussion. The transition from care to quality of care continues to be necessary.
2. The Elusive Goal of Interoperability - This poses what I view as the greatest challenge to the health care system. The vendors were never incented to integrate patient information, so a hospital is either a McKesson hospital or a Cerner hospital. In the instances where patients attend multiple facilities or a facility utilizes products from multiple vendors, that data seldom travels across multiple treatment areas.
3. Telecommunications - The changing demographics of our country will require health facilities to implement/integrate tele-health into their care offering. Simply put, our country currently lacks the necessary infrastructure to support the aging baby bombers. This dynamic is serving and will continue to serve as a catalyst for tele-health.
I believe that all three are linked because over time they will plan an inexplicable role in how care facilities are viewed. The movement to a consumer model in US healthcare represents a tectonic shift. Patients will be drawn to those facilities/providers that provide better care. Over time being able to access patient data across the continuum of care will that provide a competitive advantage for facilities. One of the reasons that I led the investment in Lincor was that the technology consolidates patient data at the point of care.
During meetings with my HCIT team members, we discuss these segments regularly and try to find other themes that are pervasive in the industry.
Regardless of the implementation of the health care legislation, I think that the aforementioned themes are critical to improving health care in the US.
What do you think?