Medicine and technology have come a long way. In the last 20 years, new treatments, medications and technology have paved the way for less invasive procedures and better outcomes. Robot-assisted surgery, new vaccines, and electronic medical records are among the innovative advancements we’ve seen.
With so many advancements in healthcare and health technology, generating fresh ideas for healthcare innovation can be overwhelming. As you guide your organization through healthcare innovation initiatives in 2023, keep in mind these five focus areas that remain ripe for development.
1. Promote collaborative care.
Patients receive care from multiple providers when they’re healthy, and their care team expands pretty quickly if they get sick. There are many benefits to both patients and providers when they participate in collaborative care models:
- Patients are less likely to get sick or die.
- The risk for drug reactions decreases.
- Healthcare professionals experience better job satisfaction.
- Workloads are more manageable.
Including collaborative care in any healthcare innovation plan is essential for both clinicians and patients. However, collaborative care is cumbersome and time consuming if data isn’t easily accessible between providers and patients.
2. Improve data accessibility.
Access to critical patient data makes it easier to promote collaborative care models among departments and providers. When different providers have access to a patient’s labs, imaging and other critical medical records, they can streamline care for that patient and take a more holistic approach to care.
Within a healthcare facility, this isn’t usually a problem. Electronic medical records make it easy to access a patient’s chart from a computer, instead of relying on paper records. Even if doctors are in different departments or buildings at the same facility, they have access to all their patients’ records with a valid login.
Things get a little tricky, though, if a patient is seeing providers at different facilities. While electronic medical records simplify data accessibility in theory, that’s not always the case in practice.
3. Increase interoperability.
When electronic medical records came about, several different companies developed different systems. As a result, many electronic medical records lack interoperability, which is essential to data accessibility.
Interoperability is one of the biggest barriers to healthcare innovation. The healthcare industry is notorious for being reluctant to introduce new technology and approaches to care. Part of this is due to the sensitive nature of patient care, and part of it is skepticism resulting from interoperability issues among electronic medical records.
A patient’s medical record is a living document that includes important health information. Collaborative care relies on the expectation that a patient’s entire care team can access their records. When providers at different facilities use different electronic medical records that aren’t interoperable, it adds an additional obstacle to a collaborative model of care.
There’s a bigger issue at play, as well. Population health relies on much of the data that healthcare providers collect in electronic medical records. Lack of interoperability among facilities also hampers these activities, directly impacting the effectiveness of population health programs.
4. Consider population health management.
Managing population health requires innovative healthcare solutions to allow patients and providers better access to health information. Standards such as Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) offer a framework for the electronic exchange of healthcare information. This application programming interface (API) makes it possible for doctors to access patients’ medical records, even when their electronic medical record system isn’t interoperable with other providers on a collaborative care team.
Solutions like these prevent duplicate tests, procedures and paperwork for patients. They also make it easier to track a patient’s social determinants of health (SDOH) and the associated risks.
5. Prioritize SDOH.
Only 10–15% of preventable deaths in the United States are the result of medical care. The remaining 85–90% are linked to SDOH. As a result, healthcare organizations should include SDOH as a guiding metric for healthcare innovation.
This can take several forms. Healthcare entities may include SDOH data on intake forms or implement systems to find suitable housing, food, career and other support to patients. Leveraging SDOH data in the healthcare setting can help streamline patient care and facilitate better outcomes. And when this data is shared through population health management software, it can inform public health priorities in your community.
Champion Healthcare Innovation
Improving interoperability is a priority for healthcare facilities that champion healthcare innovation. Solutions that improve patient experiences, promote collaborative care and facilitate population health management initiatives are at the forefront—and so is Medecision.