Lisa Eramo

How Emerging Medical Technology Shifts Care From Volume to Value

Hospitals receiving value-based incentive payments are more likely to adopt emerging medical technology to support new payment models than those that don’t receive these payments, according to a recent study published by the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions. This includes data-related hospital technology for population health management, data aggregation and management and data reporting and analytics. Researchers examined data from approximately 4,500 U.S. hospitals to draw these conclusions.

The results of this study may not surprise those following the cutting edge of value-based care, but there is an important takeaway: These trends are moving fast, so act now or fall behind the curve.

Can Providers Afford to Play the Waiting Game?

If a hospital receives all of its revenue from traditional fee-for-service (FFS) contracts, there’s no immediate financial need to invest in population health-related technology. On the other hand, a hospital that participates in bundled payment programs or global risk capitation contracts absolutely needs this type of emerging medical technology to survive and thrive.

Waiting for the majority — or even a small handful — of contracts to shift from FFS to value-based reimbursement before adopting data-related hospital technology isn’t the answer. “Many health systems appear to be in a holding pattern, waiting until the tide shifts to begin on the journey toward new payment models,” according to Deloitte. “Waiting to invest could put organizations at risk of falling behind on the adoption curve … Once the industry reaches a tipping point, revenue based on outcomes and risk could exponentially increase, leaving fewer resources for new investments.”

This is why hospitals everywhere should explore emerging medical data technology now, comparing options and setting aside capital for investment. It’s not a question of whether hospitals need this technology; it’s a question of whether they’ll act quickly enough to survive the transition from FFS to value-based reimbursement systems.

3 Data-Driven Technologies for Providers to Explore

Here’s a look at each of the three emerging medical technologies Deloitte highlights as necessary for capitalizing on value-based care arrangements.

1. Population Health Management

The health care marketplace hosts a variety of vendors specializing in population health management. This includes electronic health records (EHRs) with a population health component, as well as third-party EHR add-ons. Population health technology enables providers to stratify patients according to risk; target and engage high-risk, high-cost patients through outreach campaigns (such as test and treatment reminders); and track patient-reported outcomes.

This hospital technology is critical to the future of health care because it supports providers’ ability to engage patients throughout their health care journey. The sooner hospitals adopt this technology, the sooner they’ll be able to close care gaps, conduct large-scale outreach and manage populations effectively. The Deloitte study, for example, cited a health system that used population health management technology to identify high-risk patients, connect them with primary care physicians and assign a care management nurse to oversee outreach and care plans. The result? One year later, nearly half of these patients were no longer considered high-risk.

2. Data Aggregation and Management

This emerging medical technology enables providers to gather and consolidate large amounts of structured and unstructured data from disparate information systems into an enterprise data warehouse that can be used for metrics and analytics. The technology also helps providers ensure data integrity — that data sets are accurate, consistent, relevant and not corrupted in any way.

Being able to gather accurate data from multiple sources beyond the EHR gives providers a holistic view of their patient populations, which is necessary to enable population health management. Clean data also lays the foundation for accurate data analytics.

3. Data Reporting and Analytics

This hospital technology enables providers to extract and analyze data from the enterprise data warehouse. It’s important because it helps providers predict outcomes, identify risk and improve clinical care throughout the entire enterprise — all with the goal of supporting value-based care.

When hospitals implement these types of emerging medical technology to support patient and provider engagement, they also manage downside risk, reduce costs and improve outcomes, thereby thriving under value-based payment models.