By Contributing Author
Healthcare in America is undergoing a major shift. Hospitals are prioritizing value-based care — which rewards and reimburses providers for positive patient outcomes — over volume-based care. A hospital’s performance is increasingly assessed in terms of the quality of care provided rather than looking at it in terms of how many patients it has seen and procedures it has provided.
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So, it makes sense hospitals are making it their absolute priority to improve patient care across the board. Here are just four of the many ways in which they’re achieving this aim.
Optimizing Diagnostics to Reduce Error
Quality patient care begins with accurate and timely diagnostics. After all, it’s difficult — nigh impossible — to treat someone effectively without first understanding their underlying conditions. This is precisely why hospitals are embracing electronic health records (EHRs) as tools for improving patient outcomes and reducing unfortunate errors during the diagnosis stage.
Hospitals yet to make a serious push toward using EHRs should and must absolutely do so as soon as possible. Those that have begun this push can continue to train clinicians, administrative staff and allied healthcare professionals to utilize them to their fullest extent to reduce diagnostic errors and help providers pick the best courses of care.
Predicting Risk Factors Earlier
Hospital readmissions are stressful for everyone involved. Ideally, patients are able to go home following an emergency room visit or surgery without needing to return to the hospital for unanticipated follow-up care — like early mortality after a heart transplant, for instance.
What if there was a way to identify which patients face the highest risk of readmission ahead of time, enabling care providers to proactively address risk factors? Thankfully, there is. Forward-thinking hospitals are using healthcare data analytics to understand which types of patients are experiencing higher-than-average readmission rates — and instances of chronic illness. With this knowledge in hand, care providers can work to purposefully mitigate risk by improving communication, providing extra support after discharge and addressing risk factors based on data.
Improving Continuity of Care
Have you ever been discharged after a hospital visit only to feel like you’re “on your own” for the most part? It can be a confusing experience to navigate the healthcare system, especially for conditions requiring follow-up care.
Patients are often unsure who to call, when to make subsequent appointments and how to get in touch with specialists. The result is a high potential for fragmentation of care, which is counterproductive to the end goal of improved outcomes.
The World Health Organization defines continuity of care as “the degree to which a series of discrete health care events is experienced by people as coherent and interconnected over time and consistent with their health needs and preferences.”
In other words, hospitals must provide patients with the right information at the right time and via the right medium. This is the first step toward empowering patients to take control of their health. Hospitals must also be prepared to share clinical information through EHRs and communicate effectively with other providers, even after patients are discharged.
Utilizing Connected Care Online
One key way hospitals can work to improve continuity of care and vital information sharing is to put connected care systems in place — like online portals patients can easily access from their mobile phones. Just as communicating with patients how to access this life-changing information, where to find it will affect how many people actually do so.
Hospitals are aiming to improve patient care in many ways, like using data to identify, then address risk factors, and smooth out continuity of care after discharge.