Value-Based Hospitals More Likely to Adopt Population Health Tools

Hospitals participating in value-based care models are investing more than their peers in health IT solutions to help support population health management, data analytics, and care coordination capabilities, according to a Deloitte survey.

However, these hospitals are not significantly more likely to adopt technologies that will improve patient and provider engagement, such as patient portals or telemedicine, revealing that many organizations may still be experiencing gaps in their care strategies.

The researchers noted that while 96 percent of US hospitals have adopted electronic health records (EHRs), the shift to value-based care will require integration across platforms beyond the EHR.

“The evolving market shift from payments based on volume toward payments that emphasize outcomes and risk is one of the largest drivers of technology adoption. Health systems need to derive meaningful information from data to monitor patients and reward providers throughout the care journey,” the researchers stated.

“New ways of collecting, processing, and analyzing data, coordinating care in and out of the hospital setting, and supporting clinicians throughout the care journey can be therefore critical.”

The Deloitte team examined data from approximately 4500 hospitals to discover how the shift to value-based care spurred technology adoption between 2012 and 2016. The team wanted to find out whether hospitals involved in value-based contracts were more likely to adopt advanced technology, and what technologies these hospitals were implementing.

The results showed that hospitals with value-based incentives were more likely to have adopted population health management and care coordination technologies than hospitals with no incentives.

Additionally, researchers found that hospitals with risk-based incentives were more likely to have implemented clinical analytics and reporting technologies, as well as tools to support data warehouse mining.

Population health management and analytics technologies have been shown to help hospitals with risk stratification and predictive modeling, enabling them to deliver preventive, targeted care, the team said.

The results also showed that hospitals with and without value-based incentives did not differ in their adoption of patient and provider engagement technologies, including patient portals and telemedicine.

Hospitals from both groups were also similar in their adoption of core applications that support the financial and operational aspects of their organizations, such as chain supply management or revenue cycle management.

“As this data shows, most health systems’ technology adoption strategies are focused on organizing clinical data and information and adopting EHR systems and analytics capabilities to interpret the data. These technologies will likely continue to be critical,” the researchers said.

“But our analyses also show that many health systems—even ones that are farther along the road to new payment arrangements—may still lack critical technologies. Health systems should focus on patient and provider engagement technologies (such as virtual care) and core operational and financial applications.”

Organizations will likely need to invest in these technologies as patients increasingly take their care into their own hands, the team said. Healthcare entities should also consider updating their financial systems to help manage downside risk under new value-based contracts.

In addition to patient-facing technologies and financial applications, other advanced tools are expected to aid the shift to value-based care.

“New and emerging technologies, such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and blockchain, will likely play an increasing role in supporting the capabilities needed under new payment models,” the team said.

“Many health systems are already using these technologies to support key business and clinical decisions.”

The researchers cited Vanderbilt University, Boston Children’s Hospital, and the Mayo Clinic as some of the organizations implementing and utilizing these advanced tools to help improve data management, data sharing, and ultimately, patient care.

The team noted that in order to keep up in a value-based landscape, health systems must adopt the necessary tools sooner rather than later.

“Today, many health systems appear to be in a holding pattern, waiting until the tide shifts to begin on the journey toward new payment models. Waiting to invest could put organizations at risk of falling behind on the adoption curve,” the researchers concluded.

“Once the industry reaches a tipping point, revenue based on outcomes and risk could exponentially increase, leaving fewer resources for new investments.”

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