Benefits of digital gateways to meet population health needs
Population health management has become an important skill for hospitals and health systems. But the road to implementing effective pop health strategies is strewn with challenges: monitoring chronic disease rates and preventing community transmission, triaging emergencies from routine health care circumstances, and performing preventive services compel all providers to change their traditional fee-for-service workflow.
Advanced healthcare platforms, such as digital gateways, are emerging as an answer to some of these challenges. Digital gateways can help process large amounts of demographic data related to community health and population well-being.
Health Informatics News spoke with Keith Algozzine, CEO of UCM Digital Health, a digital gateway technology provider, to master the above challenges; how digital gateways can contribute to population health; how digital gateways work behind the scenes to achieve goals; and how digital gateways work with enhanced health benefits such as home care and treatment, virtual primary care, and therapies to empower a population to take control of their health for the better.
Q. What are some of the challenges facing successful population health management programs today?
A. More and more organizations are looking for ways to improve the health of the populations they serve. They understand that ‘health’ is more than just ‘health care’ and seek to have a positive impact on health status.
Implementing population health initiatives has its challenges. It takes expertise and experience, which is why many organizations seek out third-party partners to help them implement health improvement initiatives. These initiatives often fall outside the realm of direct care and fall within the realm of social determinants of health.
Once a population health initiative is defined, the challenge is to identify the right people for outreach and to customize the approach to meet the unique needs of patients. Overall health depends on ensuring that patients receive timely medically appropriate preventive care and that patients with chronic conditions are proactively monitored to prevent future complications.
There is no doubt that patient engagement and participation in their care is essential to improving health. For example, many patients know there are things they can do to improve or maintain their health, but fail to do them due to non-health related barriers.
It is not enough to urge someone to see a primary care provider; we must ensure that they have transportation to get to the appointment and that their work schedule or other responsibilities and circumstances do not interfere, making it difficult or impossible to attend a medical appointment in person.
Once an initiative is defined and implemented, patient buy-in, compliance, and tracking results are keys to continued success. Because data isn’t always seamlessly integrated at different points in a patient’s healthcare journey, providers and other organizations don’t always get a complete picture of patient compliance and outcome tracking. .
A robust data platform can be effective in filling this gap. It allows different organizations to have visibility into each other’s data and information, allowing for a more complete understanding of that patient’s health.
Q. You suggest that digital gateways can help healthcare provider organizations overcome some of these challenges. How?
A. Digital gateways can be effective in removing barriers while ensuring patients have continuity of care tailored specifically to their individual needs. Provider organizations are often unable to reach the patients who would benefit most from population health programs.
Digital health and digital gateways can be an effective way to provide any patient with access to a medical or mental health provider, removing barriers by allowing patients to connect via phone, chat, video or even asynchronously. Care can start digitally, but can extend to the home with a combination of hands-on support from healthcare professionals working virtually alongside telemedicine providers.
Programs can be created for the proactive identification and outreach of the right populations to perform wellness visits, fill gaps in care, and address social determinants of health by connecting to community resources , for example.
Moving from a medical appointment to a virtual visit can break down a host of barriers and enable the success of population health initiatives. For example, with digital-first care, the patient does not have to worry about travel and transportation to get to the appointment. Travel time and money are saved.
Productivity is earned at work and at home. Getting away from work or household responsibilities for a few minutes for a virtual tour may be more doable for many people than skipping several hours for a round trip to and from an in-person appointment. A virtual provider can even visit a home via video to identify hazards or other social determinants of health and help the patient with next steps to address them.
You can’t act if you don’t know. In a traditional healthcare setting, information is fragmented. Collecting health and non-health information allows you to determine actions that can be taken to improve a patient’s health. An effective data platform can facilitate data sharing and integration, providing providers and other organizations with complete visibility of patient health information, including the ability to track compliance and program outcomes. population health.
An effective data platform can solve data interoperability issues, which further facilitates population health initiatives. For example, platforms may have the ability to understand and translate different sets of codes across organizations so that they can achieve a common understanding of patient data and information, thereby improving health outcomes.
Q. How do Digital Gateways work behind the scenes to achieve these goals?
A. Patients want convenience, and a digital entryway can provide it. Digital entry doors can be opened 24/7/365, allowing patients access when they really need it, with often no or minimal wait times.
The quality of care is equal, if not superior, to care provided in a traditional brick-and-mortar setting. Providers are often able to spend more time with patients and provide personalized, personalized attention and care. For the patient, no time wasted in the waiting room of the doctor’s office, where the patient also risks being exposed to other diseases.
Patient compliance is also higher in the digital space, with data coming from the National Library of Medicine showing that patients are less likely to miss a telemedicine appointment. And with treatments available on demand, no appointment is necessary.
A common data platform can be effective in connecting patient data across organizations to get a complete picture of the patient, enabling holistic care and looking at the patient holistically rather than in discrete, siled medical encounters .
It can be effective in bringing together multiple platform partners that can enable optimal patient care. For example, connecting a partner that offers home labs, as well as a telehealth provider and physical primary care physician, to enable data sharing and collaboration with patient health, appropriate level of care, and best results in mind as goals.
Q. How can digital gateways work with enhanced health benefits, such as home care and treatment, virtual primary care, and therapies, to enable a population to take control of their health for the better?
A. It really is the future of care. Digital gateways can provide a single point of entry and experience for the patient. They provide patients with access to enhanced benefits as they provide access to a range of services to patients in a variety of care settings: virtual emergency and emergency care, virtual mental health care, virtual primary care, care home and more.
Patients can initiate care digitally, get comprehensive care virtually, or continue it at home, if and when they need it. Patients have choice and are empowered to choose how and when they interact with the healthcare system.
We are entering a digital landscape where doctors and paramedics can work together to provide home care as an alternative to an ambulance ride to the hospital emergency room.
We’re seeing 911 systems that can now connect a caller to a nurse navigator or telemedicine physician to meet healthcare needs without an hour-long wait in an emergency room, making care more accessible, affordable and safer. . And uses scarce healthcare resources wisely, for example by allowing paramedics and 911 centers to focus on real emergencies.
Digital gateways can offset many things that our healthcare system should be doing but isn’t doing. How much better would a patient be if the health care provider came back with them three days after a virtual visit to make sure the treatment and recovery was going as planned?
How would this digital engagement and tracking further increase compliance with population health programs, as well as patient satisfaction and overall health? A digital presence is clearly the future of care, enabling providers to make meaningful connections with the patient and other organizations and engage the patient in their health.