Recent news of the exit of nine Pioneer ACOs has spurred debate about whether these types of programs will work and what ACOs need to do to meet stringent quality care and cost initiatives.
Experts say that, to be successful, providers need to focus on the fundamentals:
- Evidence-based care
- Population health management programs
- Better use of internal resources
- Technology innovation
- Cost containment
I tend to agree. But I’m particularly bullish on two particular tenets: reaching target patient populations and leveraging technology to create a dialogue around managing their health.
The Time Is Now.
I typically speak with one or two health systems every week. More often than not, our exchange begins with a question like this one:
“How do I cost-effectively scale my tried and true disease or at-risk population health management programs to our diverse and growing patient populations?”
And the conversation inevitably concludes, “Okay, so we know it can be done; we just haven’t gotten to it yet.”
Well, folks, time is running out. With as many as 30 million new patients entering the healthcare system and increasingly shrinking budgets, providers need to move fast to find a way to effectively scale patient outreach without overburdening resources and busting their budgets.
Assess your options
Automated health assessments or surveys are a good jumping off point. Delivered to patients through voice, text, email, and smartphone web apps, these assessments deliver a rare triple play to providers:
- They save money over mail or live agent/nurse,
- They free up those resources for more productive use and
- They’re valuable data-gathering tools for population health management programs
The technology is remarkably versatile. Surveys reach people on the communications channels they prefer and offer a fast, simple way to exchange health information between providers and patients privately and secure. This is important for HIPAA and other regulatory compliance.
For patients who are new to the system or recently enrolled in a program, these mobile surveys can be used for general health risk assessment. In the context of a chronic disease management program, they can be leveraged for patient knowledge assessment, collection of clinical parameters or medication adherence. Thinking more conceptually of the back end of the continuum of care, assessments can be used to gauge patient satisfaction and experience, check in with patients post-discharge, determine whether they understand their instructions, make follow-up appointments, or ensure they are taking their prescriptions. And, if any of the above isn’t happening, it’s simple to transfer the patient to a care manager.
Deliver better outcomes
But automated patient communications, including assessments, aren’t just about scale and cost. They offer valuable insight into understanding how to leverage communication preferences to reach more patients and employ best-practice-messaging and survey design to better engage them. And it’s this powerful combination that gives providers the triple-threat advantage they need to sustain their ‘Pioneering’ attitude around Accountable Care.