Five Best Practices for a Future-Proof Health System

These five best practices can lead the way to a future-proof health system that delivers value-based care and health equity as providers are empowered to focus on quality patient care and better patient outcomes.

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Future-proofing the healthcare system requires a completion of the evolving shift from traditional fee-for-service to value-based care. The transition means a recalibration of the way payments are made and healthcare outcomes are measured. Traditional fee-for-service models deliver provider reimbursements based on services provided, while the enhanced value-based models promise greater quality of care and patient outcomes.

Outgoing fee-for-service models encourage providers to perform more procedures and fill hospital beds, driving up the cost of care without improving outcomes. Value-based care puts quality first, helping providers and patients alike. Additionally, the adoption of value-based care offers several benefits, including greater efficiency in care, as well as administration. By shifting the emphasis from managing symptoms to a more integrated approach, patients experience increased quality of care and enhanced coordination among providers with a patient-centered care team.

The transition to value-based care is not a simple one for healthcare providers as the start-up costs to make the innovative changes will be significant, but the long-term results will mean sustainable improvements in the healthcare system. To adapt and thrive, providers need to focus on these five best practices for a future-proof health system.

1. Improvement of Staff Productivity with Technology

Providers will need to invest in the most effective technologies to improve staff productivity. With wage increases, staff shortages and a staff focus on career growth, providers must adopt technology to optimize staff time, especially for mundane and repetitive work. For example, electronic check-in with apps or kiosks rather than front desk check-in enables administrative staff to better utilize their time and focus on patient needs. Rather than using additional staff, automating insurance eligibility and verification will augment the process while saving time and money. Instead of having staff call, providers can use automated calls, emails and text messaging for appointment reminders as well as new appointments. Artificial intelligence-backed technologies can also be used to regularly call to check on chronic care patients, thus establishing better connections between patients and providers while improving staff productivity.

2. Infection Control Emphasis

Infection control emphasis, including workplace hygiene, will be required, not only in healthcare institutions but also in all workplaces and in every community. Standard precautions for all patient care will be mandatory as well as transmission-based precautions. From handwashing and personal protective equipment to common-sense protocols — such as cough/cold etiquette and social distancing to cleaning and disinfecting high-touch areas as well as proper handling, cleaning and disinfecting of patient care equipment — infection control protocols protect healthcare providers and those they serve. Preventing the spread of infection will lower disease burden, ultimately lowering costs and helping enhance the focus on improving everyone's quality of life with healthy living.

3. Engagement and Education of Patients and Providers

The engagement and education of both patients and providers empower everyone and make the industry more effective in delivering patient-centric, value-based care. For patients, engagement and education empower patients with a greater level of self-management. For example, patients diagnosed with congestive heart failure, hypertension, obesity, COPD, diabetes and other chronic conditions require regular monitoring using blood pressure cuffs, weight scales, pulse oximeters and glucose meters. These patients can also be empowered with remote patient monitoring which tracks vital patient measurements regularly without requiring an office visit. Patients can also be engaged to ensure medication adherence through greater education and regular reminders. Patient education also allows patients to make better-informed decisions regarding their care.

For practitioners, engagement and education in new resources and treatment make work easier. For example, dictation software allows for ease of documentation. Patient data accessibility and availability mean greater opportunities to provide better care. For example, remote patient monitoring allows staff and providers to access the latest patient data and respond quickly and proactively to provide patients with state-of-the-art quality care. Future-proofing requires investment in education and innovative delivery models, allowing providers to work at the top of their licensing level for better value-based care for patients.

4. Preventative Care

Preventative care describes medical services which protect against and/or reduce the risk of health emergencies requiring emergency room visits and hospitalizations. It includes annual physicals, well-child visits, dental cleanings, behavioral and mental care, immunizations, medications adherence and more. Preventative care is also crucial in lowering healthcare costs. With an aging population and the delay in preventive/screening checkups due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the medical community has seen a rise in the disease burden and late-stage diagnosis of cancer in communities around the country. Future-proof healthcare systems will need to devise processes and technology to make preventative care more accessible and proactive, ultimately helping the population stay healthy.

5. Community Engagement

The final best practice for a future-proof health system is the development of community engagement to overcome the broader social determinants which determine community health — food, transportation, and housing being the most common. A community's health is contingent on these conditions and others. Community in engagement can promote health equity, rid communities of health disparities and reduce the barriers to care, thus leading to better health in the community.

Everyone Has a Right to Health

Every person has a right to health. These five best practices can lead the way to a future-proof health system that delivers value-based care and health equity as providers are empowered to focus on quality patient care and better patient outcomes.

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