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3 ways data is the future of healthcare

By Elizabeth Johnson, Contributing Writer at Arcadia
Patient Engagement Health Equity and SDoH The Schema

Looking into the crystal ball we can see a healthcare industry that includes automation of care, self-insured health systems, and stronger collaboration between vendors. When all of these elements come together we have a system that provides better care more efficiently. Anna Basevich, Vice President of Enterprise Partnerships at Arcadia and Dr. Bruce Rogen, Chief Medical Officer, Cleveland Clinic Employee Health Plan & board chair, Cleveland Clinic Quality Alliance Clinically Integrated Network spoke about how this future vision will become a reality.

Episode 4 of season 2 of The Schema is available now — watch the full episode or catch up on the complete series. Below we explore how healthcare organizations can set themselves up for the future of care by using the latest technology.

Achieving two goals: Integrating data unlocks improved efficiency and a better patient experience

“When these silos occur and everybody's doing their own thing, you get a lot of duplication of efforts and that's not good for the population that we're trying to serve. And it annoys people when they get three phone calls in the same week about the same issue from three different parts of the healthcare system.”
— Dr. Bruce Rogen

A big challenge in many healthcare organizations right now is a siloed ecosystem. Unintentionally, several providers will duplicate services which wastes time and annoys patients — pushing them toward less engagement in their care instead of more.

It’s not the providers' fault. They simply don’t know what the other providers are doing. That’s why integration is a critical component in the future of healthcare. Integrating data and establishing a new level of collaboration between vendors reduces redundancies which solves two challenges: operational efficiency and patient experience.

Controlling labor shortages: Automating data entry allows doctors and nurses to focus on more important work

“We have a lot of nurses and a lot of doctors, but shortages loom in both of those areas. If they're too busy entering stuff into the chart that they don't need to be doing, that maybe a system could be doing, that would help with the shortages and it would help with burnout on both doctors and nurses right now, because everybody in the healthcare system is essentially spending a lot of time doing things that they might not have to do if we had better systems in place.”
— Dr. Bruce Rogen

Right now, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and other factors, we are experiencing high levels of provider burnout and staffing shortages that only stand to get higher. Many providers are working hard, but at the wrong tasks. They aren’t maximizing their degree because they are stuck handling data entry. As a result, we all suffer. Finding ways to alleviate some of the pressure on our healthcare labor force is important for keeping our system running and providing high quality care.

Particularly in high volume environments, automation and artificial intelligence have roles to play in helping healthcare organizations free up staff time for the most important work. Automating time consuming and manual tasks such as data entry can free up time for providers to focus on patient-centered activities.

Solving for social determinants of health: Collecting the right data helps identify patients at the highest risk

“You have to find a reasonable, secure way of getting the information so that they feel comfortable sharing it. You need to integrate that with all the other information that you have—clinical data, claims data—to figure out who's at risk. And the hardest part is once you find out that someone is at a particular risk, what do you do about it?”
— Dr. Bruce Rogen

Whether they are on Medicaid, Medicare, or a commercial health plan, people’s care can be affected by social determinants of health (SDoH). It’s not uncommon for people to feel embarrassed sharing information about their lives. Maybe they are a two-parent working, one car family and one person who doesn't have any way to get somewhere during the day, but they are embarrassed to share that with a provider or their employer. Providers need to find ways to get that important information, because it deeply affects care delivery, and then integrate it with other claims and clinical data.

Once providers can identify high-risk individuals, the next question for healthcare organizations to answer is how they will determine actionable solutions for the information they gather. These are things the healthcare system at large doesn’t always have answers for yet—employers and insurers don’t regularly offer transportation at this point. But the future of better healthcare requires that we come to a place where payers can offer solutions for SDoH.