The Healthcare SWOT analysis of 2013, did not mention improving patient care. The healthcare SWOT analysis is focused on cost containments. Media headlines portray our embattled heath care system using sports metaphors and terminology. The President wanted to shift the conversation toward the patient but had to fight misinformation pertaining government control. Americans are divided into this camp or that based primarily on bad information. Personally, I was interested in care solutions, data analytics use for decision making or improving diagnostics. I was especially interested to hear if the experts would talk about improving interprofessional collaborations as a mechanism for improving health outcomes.
Collaboration discussion focused on intra-industry conversations, in the medical industry. Which should be common sense. The most overused phraseology was healthcare need to improve efficiencies to reduce cost. This phraseology is common sense since all businesses seek to improve efficiencies to reduce cost. Business efficiency is tantamount to financial portfolio diversification. We have heard it spoken so frequently we think it is profound. When in fact it really means is I don’t know what to do, so I’ll reuse some common platitudes. Why diversify if you know where to invest to capture the greatest return. Diversified financial portfolios just mean, I don’t know where to invest I’ll hedge on the market by spreading the money around. The only businesses that don’t need to improve efficiencies are those with an uninterrupted revenue stream and zero concern about transparency.
The most vulnerable members of the health care system are primary care providers (PCP). Their numbers are dwindling, operation costs are rising and providing care is becoming more complicated. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has good intentions but the conversion to the new reimbursement models have placed greater stressor on PCP. ACA goals place PCP front and center in its mission to improve the health of Americans. PCP’s should be the gatekeepers of health and change is difficult. The system for years functioned as a fee for service model, where numbers were necessary for revenue. The law links payment by rewarding value, the value being improved health outcomes. However, PCP’s still need to maintain volume to sustain their operations.
Who’s innovating for PCPs? Interprofessional Collaborations can make a difference by combining expertise to achieve common health objectives. Preventative care providers working cooperatively with PCP can improve clinical outcomes. This is a significant change in industry’s practices. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) add a layer of complication for collaboration to exist. Innovation is costly, not just in dollars but also in adaptation time. Innovations must occur if PCP is to meet their goals in a sustainable method.
Both PCP and preventative care need to find common ground and initiate conversations. For example complicating PCP job are confounding diseases and treatment protocols that will improve patient health across diagnosis. Preventative care providers could assist in coordinated post diagnostic care. Many confounding symptoms are complicated by the patient’s sedentary lifestyle which is within the wheel house of the preventative care specialist.
Through collaboration, innovations can occur. HIPAA prevent certain communications between a PCP and preventative care provider, but what if technology would allow PCP and preventative care to coordinate care throughout a calendar year. I think it could be done by compiling data gather during an annual checkup and tracking that data throughout the year. The patient could collect data on their behalf report it back to the PCP or share it with whomever and be compliant 100% with HIPAA.
The data would include information the PCP or preventative care provider could use to improve healthier outcomes. Implicit in the collection of this data is its oversight implications for patient care, collecting information which would be useful during future appointments. PCP utilizing collaborative care and technology will produce positive outcomes. These positive results will begin to ripple throughout the entire industry. Collaborative practices are encouraged by ACA because they add value to the customer. This new technology, I’ve been developing will not slow productivity during an office visit rather provide staff with critical information toward treatment.
The data collected would then return to the PCP practice in the form utilization statistics. These stats compiled regionally, statewide, geographically, nationally or based on specific population characteristics allowing the PCP staff to make care decision about their customer base. Over time best practice models will appear online demonstrating how to improve customer adherence. The PCP could transmit information directly with the detail customer areas for improvement.
Cameron Diaz, the author, and actor while promoting The Longevity Book answered a question about her best diet and exercise techniques, she responded by saying the best secret is starting when you are young and don’t stop. The best way to lose weight is not to gain weight. Ms. Diaz conveyed an old adage an ounce of prevention beats a pound of cure.
Losing weight is difficult. Starting and maintaining a physical activity routine is challenging. Battling hypertension, coronary or kidney disease, and type 2 diabetes developed because of weight gain is challenging to reverse. Anyone affected by any of these conditions can make necessary changes. However, their health outcomes are far better if they can maintain a healthy body weight and practice regular physical activity regiment. For too long American healthcare has been treatment centered. Healthcare industries have grown up on the premise of treatment first mentality. More dollars have been spent researching disease, while little is known about health.
Today anyone suffering from any of the complications related to weight gain (high blood pressure, diabetes, heart or kidney disease) will likely receive a bottle of pills for a remedy. We take pills for everything in this country. In fact, we take pills for taking pills. When we think of treatment solutions, we believe medication or surgical solution. I was pleased to hear Ms. Diaz point out that the best treatment is prevention.
Studies show 70% of Americans are prescribed some medication from an antibiotic to antidepressants. We do not like taking pills which is why most people have a medicine cabinet full of prescription meds they did not complete. People stop taking their medications for many reasons, cost, side effects and dependency are just a few. Because of the complication with confounding symptom and dismal continuity of care pass the annual office visit medication has been the best option.
I believe the puzzle can be fixed bringing together PCP, preventative care, with collected data to provide better treatment options. Once these puzzle pieces are put together, entrepreneurs and researchers will begin to produce innovations that will benefit PCP and ultimately the customers they serve. I am prepared to roll out the first leg of this project and build a collaborative interprofessional to begin implementing solutions.