Today's healthcare industry is faced with daunting challenges. Clinicians want to enhance quality of care for patients and increase accessibility, while simultaneously reining in exorbitant healthcare costs. According to the Center for Medicare Services (CMS), over the next 10 years, health expenditures will increase approximately 6.7% per year, causing healthcare to consume 20.3% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Recently, health industry officials submitted cost savings proposals to President Obama,promising to curb costs in support of his healthcare reform agenda. These groups "including hospitals, insurers, physicians, pharmaceutical companies, medical device companies, and a leading healthcare union" each submitted a number of proposed initiatives that could save up to $1.7 trillion in healthcare costs. A large percentage of these savings would come from changes in utilization of care, administration simplification, and the cost of doing business. The American Hospital Association (AHA), in particular, prioritized the following two long-term cost savings initiatives:
- Improved Care Coordination
- Focus on the discharge process and care transitions.
- Implementing Health Information Technology (HIT)
- Focus on leadership and clinical strategies to effectively implement HIT.
In its proposals, the American Medical Association (AMA) stated that improved care transitions to avoid hospital readmissions are a major priority.Also, the Association of Health Insurance Plans informed President Obama that initiatives which utilize the benefits of health information technology ultimately reward quality and value while empowering patients to engage effectively in the healthcare system.
All of these initiatives speak of an important concern which iHealthNetworks, INC addresses: The use of health information technology to improve the coordination of patient careacross all sites of care and support services needed. A key component of this is care transitioning. Presently, inefficiencies in discharge planning cost the healthcare industry more than $12 billion a year. In acute care facilities, case managers are paid at least $80,000 a year to help discharged patients transitioning to post-acute care environments such as skilled nursing facilities (SNF) or assisted living facilities (ALF). However, systemic difficulties often ensue: Patients are transitioned to the wrong type of facility, or they do not have the proper medical equipment or supplies when they arrive. Additionally, there are not enough physicians and nurses to provide adequate attention to administrative matters, such as transitioning patients to and from post-acute care facilities. This leads patients and their families to become angry, while vendors are frustrated at lost sales opportunities, and burnout increases among healthcare professionals.
The heart of the problem is waste: Wasted time, wasted dollars, and wasted opportunities for better communication and sustainable revenue generation.