The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) required hospitals to post their standard charges for every item they use (also known as chargemaster prices) online from the 1st of January. Their expectation was that this price transparency would translate to patient empowerment, as it would enable patients and their caregivers to make informed choices between healthcare providers, based on the cost of the treatment required.
In full compliance of the regulatory requirements, hospitals around the US have made their chargemaster price information publicly accessible. The providers, however, have failed to give meaningful access to the costs related to patients and their treatment. Let’s delve deeper and understand why unloading data related to cost of treatment without any insight is not helpful:
Hospitals dumped all the costs in huge lists online without throwing light on the cost of specific services. So, if someone wanted to compare the costs involved in a tonsillectomy, not only would they need to know the names of each consumable, each test, and each service but also the doctor/specialist charges that would be incurred during such a surgery.
Some providers have posted a link to an excel sheet online, which displays massive columnized lists showing prices of more than 20,000-35000 items, making it difficult if not impossible, to verify the costs prior to availing any medical service.
Many of these lists posted online use abbreviated names, codes, and mixed-up terminology, making it nearly impossible to understand anything from them.
Thousands of services have been listed with minor variations and described using abbreviations and codes to reflect price variations. This makes the process even more cryptic.
Some providers have displayed the costs using complex software which is only machine readable and defeats the purpose of a transparent policy.
The raw data that’s been dumped online is useless to the public and could even be misleading. But of course, there are always exceptions to any rule and some consumer-friendly hospitals like El Camino Hospital in Mountain View, Calif., Baylor Scott & White, Tx., among others. They have invested the time and effort needed to provide transparent online tools which enable patients to make a reliable estimate of the out-of-pocket expenses they would incur for their services. These tools factor in an individual consumer’s health plan benefits and deductible status before providing the estimate.
Currently there are no checks in place to ascertain the integrity of the data posted by providers online and no penalties for non-compliance. Therefore, it is necessary for the CMS guideline to include some checks and balances to attain true price transparency. Till then, the patients and their families will have to contend with complex documents to analyze cost differences across different care options.
Healthcare in 2019 is all about value of care. While healthcare payors and providers have been heavily investing in the latest medical technology, productivity tools have somehow remained outdated. With renewed focus on value of care and clinicians increasingly resorting to innovative and complex treatment paths, care delivery is becoming more collaborative and team-based. It is therefore imminent that healthcare providers invest in tools to empower clinicians for better care delivery using a secure platform.
Microsoft Teams provides a set of care-coordination solutions to enhance patient care, reduce costs and help stakeholders collaborate without risking patient-data privacy and security. Microsoft Teams has slowly established itself as the go-to productivity tool when it comes to patient care. Today, it is preventing thousands of healthcare workers from burnout due to administrative paperwork. While the platform is finding mass-adoption, here are five incredibly innovative ways in which Microsoft is transforming care coordination through Teams:
Aggregate patient’s records in a secure location
Clinicians can now aggregate all patient data including patient history, lab results, notes on patient health, and previous care results at a single location. Verified team members can access these files related to patient data on a dedicated channel and provide inputs as the patient traverses through the care continuum. A centralized care plan not only reduces time to value-care for patients but also reduces hurdles for clinicians by providing a safe collaborative environment.
Meet and make decisions even if offsite
Microsoft Teams makes decision-making simpler and faster. Clinicians can now meet online without the need to be physically present at one location to make decisions on a patient’s case. Every member on a channel can connect online, even if offsite, and help deliver accurate and faster care for critical cases that require immediate decision making.
Review and update patient care plan records collectively
Now team members can edit and provide updates on patient records through focused discussions within the purview of care delivery plans. Team members can work on Office 365 apps such as MS Word at the same time and review care delivery path in real time.
Integrate EHRs and deliver interdisciplinary care
Health providers are increasingly using integration capabilities of Microsoft Teams to connect to Electronic Health Records and provide a real time communication platform for everyone involved in the patient’s care.
No data privacy risk: HIPAA compliant
Data privacy and security is one of the biggest concerns in the health IT space and Microsoft Teams does a good job of addressing those concerns. The platform is HIPAA compliant with almost 1100 internal controls for data privacy. Microsoft also claims that the ‘platform leverages billions of data signals with machine learning’ to ensure protection of sensitive health data. With such robust tools and features, Microsoft Teams is leading the pack in data security and privacy as a trusted cloud platform.
Aurora network, a not-for-profit healthcare network in the United States is leveraging Teams solution to deliver patient centered care.
By accommodating interdisciplinary decision makers under a single umbrella, Microsoft Teams is helping streamline communication and workflows for better care delivery networks.
Healthcare costs have been on the rise ever since the late 90’s. In fact, they have almost doubled over the last decade, especially in the USA. The Health IT sector, however, has tried to address these concerns related to cost in innovative ways. Reducing wait times, eliminating room for error and improving the quality of healthcare in general has drastically improved the affordability of care. Interoperability in healthcare has lead this change.
Here are some ways healthcare data and application interoperability can help patients by improving patient outcomes, cutting costs, and aiding value-based care.
Reduce Wait Times and Improve Quality of Care
With interoperability, patient information across several systems is available to doctors at any point in time. This makes collecting, analyzing, and processing data a breeze as opposed to sending out an email to a blood bank or a lab for related patient info, thereby reducing patient care and wait times.
A good example of a Microsoft Azure solution is the Novari ATC. It provides an efficient flow of information across systems in the OR to facilitate better surgical wait times and e-bookings of cases in real time. By reducing OR and other wait times through effective data and application interoperability, doctors and administrators are able to efficiently care for patients. This leads to a higher success rate with treatment. In short, interoperability in healthcare has a considerable positive impact on patient experience.
Eliminate Room for Duplicate Records
A study conducted at the Children’s Medical Center in Dallas showed that duplicate records increased patient cost by over $1000 on average. Creating a standard access point for patient data eliminates this massive expenditure on duplicate tests, prescriptions, and reports.
A good example, is the OLIS (Ontario Laboratories Information System) system in Ontario – a province-wide central data repository that stores lab tests and other health documents that can be digitally transferred.
Dapasoft has integrated many acute care provider EHR system including Cerner, Meditech, and Epic to name a few so that lab data is easily accessible in a central repository.
Improved Patient Engagement
The increased use of mobile health apps in the past decade have given patients the chance to access their health records remotely and even communicate with their provider. This is where data standardization kicks in, to make sure that data moving from one system to another is converted and streamlined smoothly. Patient Engagement stops patients from visiting/revisiting and has show to aid the quality of care in general.
Dapasoft helped William Osler Health System (WOHS) setup their MyChart patient portal in just about 18 months by leveraging the hospital’s existing BizTalk Server. The portal saw over 18,000 patients sign-up and helped improve patient engagement and outcomes.
Interoperability in Healthcare Allows for Movement of Massive Amounts of Data
While the security of data on cloud-based systems and mobile devices is vulnerable to breaches, it allows for a large volume of data storage. A recent Cisco report showed that health data will grow nearly four folds in the next five years and that in turn becomes a task to manage manually. With interoperability, this data can be moved through various systems and platforms, which indirectly helps keep patient data segregated while allowing for massive storage.
A good example is NEODIN (Northern and Eastern Ontario Diagnostic Imaging Network), a regional diagnostic image repository that allows for the storage of X-rays, MRI, CT Scans, ultrasounds and other records from over 62 hospitals in one secure central repository.
The Healthcare industry, much like many others, has been the latest to go the IT route. IT in healthcare has the potential to help providers in improving operations, implement feasible solutions, and improve the quality of care. IT has also brought to light the importance of health data analytics. Important data can now be used between disparate systems to improve treatment for patients, expedite the time-consuming process and eliminate any errors that restrict the quality of care.
Here is how interoperability in healthcare is helping providers improve quality of care and other relevant parameters.
Access to Health Data
Health Data is futile when not accessible by the right people at the right time. It is important for providers to be able to access a patient’s data when required. This becomes a task when data is stored in disparate systems. Healthcare interoperability streamlines the data and harmonizes the exchange over several systems.
Accessible health data from different wings allows for accurate health data analysis and helps in predicting possible outcomes of patient treatment. The information can also be used to look at the success rate of medication, patient history, and other aspects of care.
With interoperability in healthcare, providers have access to comprehensive medical data, eliminating any room for duplicate or loss of tests, reports and scans. This, in turn, helps providers cut administration cost and prevents patients from spending on duplicates.
With data readily available, the task of searching, validating, verifying and compiling data becomes a lot easier. This will help providers study treatment, healthcare delivery and conduct other research work as and when needed.
Monitor And Improve Services
Interoperability gives healthcare providers a Tsunami of data at their fingertips. This data can help them take important steps to monitor and improve specific services. That, in turn, helps in improving the quality of healthcare and overall patient experience.
Not long ago, the world of IT took on the health industry to change it for the better. With the help of the internet and rapid advancement in technology, IT has managed to help overcome the many challenges of the health industry to make efficient, effective, affordable, error-free care of high quality an everyday phenomenon.
Although the Health IT sector has been a theory since 1995, its importance has come to light only in the last couple of years. A sudden explosion in the last decade happened mainly due to the many challenges that tedious, outdated health care processes have posed along the advancement and increased accessibility in modern-day tech.
Health IT was brought about with a motive to move administration and patient care to a digital platform, which in turn could cut costs and improve patient care. Digitizing several aspects and processes has shown to cut administration and patient costs by a staggering 50% as compared to the old-school way of things. This comes through tedious paperwork, storing documents, duplicate test reports, malpractice claims and other redundant processes.
Apart from cutting costs Health IT has also proven to make value-based care a reality by using patient history and other vital information to chart a graph of the patient and to some extent, provide precautionary treatment.
Healthcare solution by Azure
With this and several other solutions it provides in bettering healthcare, Health IT has garnered popularity on an international scale for adaption. Several countries are now adapting and incorporating Health IT into their systems, which involves some technical work such as data integration and interoperability to make data transfer seamless and streamline many of the cost-intensive ways of storing and using healthcare data.
Medical data storage, transfer and integration is what gave birth to the IT aspect of health care and its rapid development is estimated to grow to a global market of over $400 billion in the next 10 years.