If you were going to rank the healthcare industry’s biggest goals, safety and quality of care might very well be the top two spots. Healthcare providers and other organizations in the industry are constantly working to improve the patient experience, and much of it comes back to those two areas.
With the growing stronghold technology has on healthcare – and pretty much any industry – it’s only natural for providers to turn to it to improve patient care quality and safety. Part of these changes involve patients having better access to their own data and improved methods of communicating with their care team.
Let’s examine a few of the ways healthcare executives envision technology impacting next generation quality and safety.
Electronic clinical quality measures (eCQMs) will be a driving force behind the next generation of safety and quality products. Products that do not support all aspects of eCQMs and standards-based interoperability are not going to cut it. The same is true when it comes to data acquisition. Support for FHIR, CCDA, and other standards-based interfaces will be a requirement for these quality and safety products.
With many payers in the middle of moving from process to outcomes measures, there’s a growing need for better risk adjustment of these measures. EHRs will be used to capture these clinical variables, so any new safety and quality technology products must be compatible. These newer systems should also plan to work with data reported by patients and data sent from their devices and wearables.
Genetics and Analytics
Genetics are also expected to play a part in helping healthcare provider organizations deliver better and more personal quality and safety. A popular example of this is that genetics can be used to help physicians predict opioid addiction. Genetics can account for about half of a patient’s risk of addiction. The opioid crisis has taken a toll on the healthcare industry, and physicians are challenged with making the right choice when patients are in pain. Having genetic data available can save lives and improve quality of care.
An emphasis is being placed on social determinants due to their impact on the outcomes of patients or potential patients. These determinants – food insecurity, access to transportation, fall risk, etc. – are of great importance, and it’s critical for the care team to have access to this knowledge.
However, technology has yet to find a way to adequately integrate social determinants to the clinical workflow. This is expected to change over the coming years and incorporating this information will have a massive impact on quality and safety.
Making Social Determinants a Priority
When care teams and physicians have the proper information readily available, they can see which patients are at the highest risk, whether social determinants are playing a large role in the risk, and subsequently prioritize which health factors to address.
The biggest benefit to quality and safety this information provides is that care teams can be more precise and efficient. This benefits entire patient populations while also benefitting individuals. Having a more holistic understanding of a patient and their needs leads to stronger relationships and a much higher level of care.
Fostering better communication across the board is the key to delivering high quality care for patients at a lower cost, and we are well on the way to making that a reality.