With medical technology moving toward preventative care, “the doctor will see you now” has a new meaning.
May 9 is National Women’s Checkup Day. As healthcare providers partner with technology to develop a more meaningful patient experience and encourage engagement during checkups and follow-up care, the healthcare industry continues its move toward innovative administrative opportunities with a digital-based infrastructure. And preventative care lies at the heart of that transformation. Here’s why:
Early research shows that only 8 percent of U.S. adults ages 35 and older are up-to-date on appropriate and recommended preventive care. And fewer than 30 percent of adults ages 50 to 64 receive core preventive care services.
“While there have been tremendous strides in medical advancements for the treatment of many diseases, many individuals underestimate the impact of preventive care, which focuses on preventing or detecting problems before they cause major health issues,” said Yvette C.Terrie. “Some individuals do not seek medical care until an issue arises.
“Unfortunately,” she added. “Many individuals are unable to afford health care and do not have access to preventive care approaches such as regular checkups, screening tests, and vaccinations.”
To combat those challenges, 80 percent of healthcare providers have plans to increase their investment in technology and digital solutions over the next five years, according to a HIMSS report. But what does that mean for patients?
The healthcare industry has identified three main components for effective preventive care: wellness programs that align with value-based care models, wearable devices and virtual care, and data analytics. These areas present doctors with customizable ways to “see” the patient while scaling up processes for more impactful population health management, offering greater access to preventive care, and creating an unprecedented personalized patient experience.
Although technology-based strategies vary among healthcare networks, these foundational components are good indicators of a promising move to effective preventive care. Here’s why:
Develop wellness programs
For generations, healthcare providers and payors responded to what was going wrong with our health. Now, as more large-scale wellness programs emerge, particularly in work environments, new incentives showcase healthy lifestyles and disease prevention. This “culture of wellness” empowers patients to have more control of the direction and focus of their complete healthcare profile. And it aligns well with value-based care models. First, let’s establish the desired outcome of value-based care models and how those incentives align with wellness and preventive care measures.
“Value-based care takes a totally different approach to health care payments by incentivizing outcomes—what will make this patient better, healthier, and more satisfied with their overall care?” explain wellness and healthcare delivery experts. “With this model, patients aren’t responsible for spinning all the plates in their treatment plan. They just have to follow guidelines and take the prescribed steps to either prevent illness or treat their condition.”
For companies like Infosys, partnering automation with employee wellness programs helps create a proactive, patient-centric model that increases health awareness, safe work environments, avoiding stress, and overall wellbeing.
Studies show that 77 percent of employees believe a wellness program impacts a company’s culture. As insurance companies incorporate patient care innovation into benefit plans, the transition to more digital-based care as viable options opens the door to unprecedented collaborative and connected patient care.
Wellness, and the practice of taking care of yourself so that disease doesn’t occur, is a basal element of preventive medicine. As we see more employers offer incentives for healthy lifestyles—season golf or ski passes, time off for yoga or meditation sessions, in-house cafeterias, mental health support, weight-loss programs, for example—you also see healthcare payors working with providers to support wellness visits more often than just the traditional annual visit.
There is a measurable administrative movement toward preventive medicine in conjunction with value-based care. And the benefits offer cost-effective opportunities for companies while their workforce benefits from a healthier, more productive work culture.
Innovate telehealth and wearable device technology
With an estimated projected value hovering around $38.9 billion by 2026, the wearable medical device industry is strapped in and ready to support existing healthcare systems with new and cost-effective approaches to patient care.
The success of wearable devices is two-fold: First, personal wellness devices like Fitbit, smartwatches, and fitness mobile apps encourage users to have more control of their overall health by tracking lifestyle habits.
Second, healthcare providers like the connectivity. Recently, we watched telehealth achieve rock star status as the headliner for digital healthcare innovation. But, in fact, healthcare providers have long embraced connected care through portable devices to reduce the risks of readmission. For instance, data collected through pacemakers and insulin readers can monitor the patient’s medication schedule. Should the data show alarming vital signs, an automated system alerts the patient to take their medication or eat something to regulate blood sugar levels.
“With far-reaching benefits and increasing scope, telehealth is here to stay,” says Viney Prakash at Infosys, who sees virtual care evolving into just another form of care. “Innovators in the healthcare technology arena are leaving no stones unturned to make it a standard affair. And with the democratization of healthcare—equal access to health, only the sky’s the limit for telehealth.”
Integrating telemedicine, wearable, and other portable devices into patient care not only creates a better patient experience but also delivers more efficient, cost-effective, and scalable care to more people by connecting with patients where they live.
Use data for solutions
The rapidly emerging, pandemic-propelled presence of digital medicine in new healthcare delivery models illustrates the integrative role of big data. From EMR and telemedicine to medical tattoos and self-service patient portals, data plays an arguably transformational role in providing solutions for demographically focused, personalized, and preventive care.
Paired with technology, predictive data analytics guide payors and providers with better insight into more efficient delivery systems and more effective administrative decisions.
In the following weeks, let’s take a granular look at ways healthcare leaders plan to use data to optimize existing pipelines that help not only expand access to care and improve patient follow-up care but impact a healthcare network’s infrastructure with delivery systems that offer customized services in communities showing the most need for specialized care.