Some hospitals are more prepared for value-based payments than others. But regardless of whether hospitals are ready, they’re coming. In time, the bulk of hospitals’ reimbursement will depend on the general health of their patient mix. So moving forward with quality-focused care strategies is essential.
However, any changes hospitals can make right now to improve patient outcomes will make a big difference in preserving their bottom lines.
Ideas for success
Dr. Peter Goldbach, the chief medical officer of a retail clinic and care management company based in Boston, wrote an article for Hospitals & Health Networks outlining three steps hospitals can take to make a stronger commitment to providing quality and value to patients:
- Expand into primary care services. Your hospital may already be part of a health system with multiple physician practices in your area. Whether or not this is the case, partnering with local primary care providers is a critical part of improving patients’ health across the continuum of care. It’s important to look at building partnerships with providers in practices and retail clinics. But it’s also wise to create relationships with other types of healthcare providers, including pharmacists. Not only does this make it easier to coordinate patients’ care and arrange referrals post-discharge, it’s also more convenient for patients to receive these services. And that makes them more likely to adhere to their discharge care plans.
- Plan for population health management. Payors have been on the bandwagon to improve population health for decades as a cost-saving measure. Now, it’s hospitals’ turn to get involved. Using data collected by electronic health records (EHR) systems, facilities can figure out which patients have chronic conditions that make them more likely to be readmitted if their health isn’t managed properly. Take a page from carriers’ books and offer these patients services such as care management assistance and customized health coaching. It’s also key to use shared medical decision making strategies with these patients so they can feel like they have equal stake in their health outcomes.
- Take advantage of telehealth and other patient-centered technology. Using various forms of technology can help your facility increase the quality of care it provides. Patients are becoming more receptive to the idea of being seen for minor problems via telehealth visits. Many patients also enjoy using online patient portals for every task from scheduling a routine surgery or follow-up visit to paying their balances. It’s also a good idea to offer patients a way to directly communicate with providers to discuss concerns about their health, whether it’s through the patient portal or email/text. This could cut back on unnecessary trips to the emergency department, since providers would be able to direct patients to the most appropriate care setting to resolve their issues.