Healthcare Value and Patient Engagement

As of 2015, healthcare spending in the U.S. reached approximately $3.2 trillion dollars, or $10,000 dollars per person. (1.) Despite high amounts of spending, Americans have seen a decline in life expectancy by one-tenth of a year.  (2.) According to a publication in 2013 by The Common Wealth Fund, Americans had fewer physician visits with 4 per year compared to 6.5 visits for other countries in The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. (3.) With the rising cost and poor quality of healthcare, it is critical to analyze the intersection between healthcare value and patient engagement. (4.)

How do we define “value” in health care? The definition for this term can range from improved patient outcomes to coordination of care to patient-centeredness. (5.) However, value-based care is generally defined as safe, appropriate, and effective care at a reasonable cost. It is very important to carefully define value as we move towards value-based care. This allows customers to fully understand the type of care they are receiving. Furthermore, value-based care has emerged as a solution to address rising health care costs. This is a change from the traditional fee-for-service approach where doctors and hospitals are paid for based on the number of health care services they deliver. (6.)

What this entails for hospitals and physicians is more accountability on their part for the well-being of their patients. For example, according to the Harvard Business Review, value-based care will be about costs and patient outcomes like quicker recoveries, fewer readmissions, lower infection rates, and fewer medical errors. (7.) In addition, as we move towards this newer model, we also see an abundance of data that can be tabulated and analyzed to ensure better health outcomes for patients. (8.) If value-based care is to succeed, the need for better patient engagement becomes a key component to that success.

Patient engagement is a set of strategies that are created to keep patients connected and engaged in their own care. Today, this is facilitated through the use of healthcare technology. For example, patients can use patient portals to directly message their provider regarding any questions they have regarding their health. (9.) In addition, people have been using mobile applications on their smartphones to keep track of their health. Ultimately, they can decide whether it is appropriate to visit a doctor based on the information they have in their pocket. (10.) This trend also focuses on preventive measures since this allows patients and providers to be in direct contact.

What patient engagement ultimately allows is for patients to take charge of their health through the use of innovative methods that have become available through technology. It allows patients to avoid spending a lot of money on doctor visits that only require simple checkups. It plays a critical role in lowering the cost of healthcare for patients and ensures better quality of care. (11.) Healthcare value and patient engagement now go hand in hand because both are innovative ideas that are meant to disrupt an industry where traditional thinking triumphs. In today’s society, the need for change is only becoming inevitable.

As a new administration takes charge, the future of our healthcare system has never been so unclear. It will be interesting to see if this value-based approach can reach new heights under the new administration. As leaders in this sector await change, one can only hope that it is the change that we have long desired. It is important for healthcare leaders to advocate for an inclusive and efficient healthcare system. In the end, if we are to succeed, collaboration on both ends of the spectrum is required.  

 

Works Cited

1.) National Health Expenditures 2015 Highlights. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. https://www.cms.gov/research-statistics-data-and-systems/statistics-trends-and-reports/nationalhealthexpenddata/downloads/highlights.pdf. Accessed January 25, 2017.

2.) Bernstein L. U.S. Life expectancy declines for the first time since 1993. Washington Post. December 8, 2016. https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/us-life-expectancy-declines-for-the-first-time-since-1993/2016/12/07/7dcdc7b4-bc93-11e6-91ee-1adddfe36cbe_story.html. Accessed January 25, 2017.

3.) Squires D. U.S. Health care from a global perspective. The Common Wealth Fund. http://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/issue-briefs/2015/oct/us-health-care-from-a-global-perspective. Accessed January 25, 2017.

4.) Claxton G. Measuring the quality of healthcare in the U.S. Peterson-Kaiser Health System Tracker. http://www.healthsystemtracker.org/insight/measuring-the-quality-of-healthcare-in-the-u-s/. Accessed January 25, 2017.

5.) Blumenthal D. Getting real about health care value. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2013/09/getting-real-about-health-care-value. Accessed January 25, 2017.

6.) Belliveau J. What is value-based care, what it means for providers? Rev Cycle Intelligince. http://revcycleintelligence.com/features/what-is-value-based-care-what-it-means-for-providers. Accessed January 25, 2017.

7.) Cosgrove T. Value-based health care is inevitable and that’s good. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2013/09/value-based-health-care-is-inevitable-and-thats-good. Accessed January 25, 2017.

8.) Porter M. The strategy that will fix health care. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2013/10/the-strategy-that-will-fix-health-care. Accessed January 25, 2017.

9.) Heath S. How do patient engagement strategies cut healthcare costs? Patient EngagementHIT. http://patientengagementhit.com/news/how-do-patient-engagement-strategies-cut-healthcare-costs. Accessed January 25, 2017.

10.) Key facts about the uninsured population. http://kff.org/uninsured/fact-sheet/key-facts-about-the-uninsured-population/. Accessed January 25, 2017.

11.) Barnett J. United States Census Bureau. http://www.census.gov/library/publications/2016/demo/p60-257.html. Accessed January 25, 2017.

 

About Mauricio Peralta