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The Measure That Matters For Quality and Cost Improvements: Health Outcomes

Posted by Sue Ellen McKelvey on May 16, 2017

shutterstock_626781863.jpgOver the past few decades, the use of measures of care delivered has increased; quality of life 'health outcomes' questionnaires became a useful method in assessing the very difficult area of cancer treatment management; where the impact of treatment beyond the cancer target was to be considered case by case.

Since the 80s into the 90s these patient-centered healthcare outcomes have been further developed; becoming one of many new requirements imposed on the healthcare industry in an effort to improve the effectiveness of the care it delivers and contain skyrocketing healthcare costs. Unfortunately, little progress has been made in the containment of costs. It may be that healthcare needs to review measure used and in what combination of same may be used to reform the system; much skepticism about the exists in healthcare practices as to what has been forced upon the industry with no true answers as to better outcomes and cost containment. Value based care is a concept behind new payment models. This theory is being tested for the next few years; payments will be set according to the ability to demonstrate value alongside the current system of payment according to inputs/services delivered.

However, as providers, payers and other stakeholders realize that the value base of healthcare is the focus for increased payments there is realization that this is a more substantial attempt at reform. Rather than nibbling around the edges of the existing system, this movement of 'value based care' is working to upend it, restructuring its foundations to clear the way for real progress and change. There is no clear set of measures established yet but that is the goal for ' Healthcare 2020'. The goal is improving the way healthcare business is done for the benefit of all stakeholders – including patients, healthcare providers and payers; this is not going away.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about this movement, given the enormous potential it has shown for bringing about beneficial changes in the healthcare system, is that it is based on a relatively simple concept: That the best measure of success in healthcare is overall health outcomes.

Organizing healthcare around this concept means changing the focus on tallying up the success rates of procedures, devices and interventions in terms of measures like mortality rates. Rather, the value based model focuses on measuring health outcomes in terms of how the full cycle of care for a particular condition affects a person's health over time. This includes:

  • The health status achieved, particularly functional status

  • The nature of the care cycle and recovery, including the length of time it takes to get back to normal activities and the level of discomfort and/or complications it involves

  • The sustainability of improved/maintained health status

Focusing on health outcomes as the key measure of the success of care pathways naturally leads to improvements in the efficiency and effectiveness of care in order to improve those health outcomes. Improvements in efficiency and effectiveness lead to cost containment over the cycle of care, and improved health outcomes also work to reduce overall healthcare costs, via less need for ongoing treatment. All of these improvements add up to greater value throughout the healthcare system.

So why, exactly, is a discussion of the value-based care movement relevant information for a healthcare technology blog? Because advanced, comprehensive healthcare IT systems are essential infrastructure of the value-based care model – which, at its heart, is a data-driven model.

Measuring the health outcomes achieved by various care methods, treatments and pathways means tracking healthcare consumers in great detail throughout the full cycle of care. Adding efficiency to care processes for better outcomes and cost-efficiency means greater coordination, communication and data sharing between all providers involved in the chain of care. The patient-centered approach inherent in the value-based care model means that any barriers to clinician-client communication must be removed. Healthcare consumers must be empowered in their own healthcare journey; more effective health education and information and more efficient access to their own health information.

A solid, end-to-end healthcare IT platform that can not only accommodate these needs, but is specifically built to help the clinic achieve the goals of value base care; real data about your clinic and clinicians at your fingertips is the foundation for providers who need to make the most of this new healthcare model.

 

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Topics: Health Outcomes

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