Transitioning to value-based care requires healthcare practices to define their terms. What really does bring value to patients and does that differ from how reimbursement will be attached to value and positive outcomes?
Ask 10 patients what will bring them value and you will probably get 10 different answers. Our diversity is what makes us human. But there are some values that most patients will agree upon. And these should be the backbones of your go forward plans.
- Communication, communication – There can never be too much communication. Engaging the patient in communication must be a priority. There are two sides to communication; speaking and listening. Both are important. A very wise endocrinologist once told me that if you really listen to a patient you will find out all you need to know about how to successfully treat that patient successfully. Today, communication is offered in a variety of mediums; face to face, phone, email, patient portals, web-sites, groups, information seminars, blogs, web pages and FaceTime and Skype. Finding that method of communication your patient prefers and delivering valuable based content in a clear and straightforward way will always bring value. The goal of communication is to engage patients in their wellness. If they have a chronic disease, the goal is to encourage sustained compliance with treatment. If they have a serious life threatening disease, the goal is to bring encouragement while offering realistic expectations for outcomes. Whatever the case, healthcare practices and patients must communicate clearly and more frequently than ever before.
- Patient friendly IT services – Although we are in the middle of IT worlds we never dreamed of 20 years ago, many patients are not on the same page as you may be with technology. Keep it simple still works. The complexity behind the simple is not a patient concern. They want interaction on a computer to be painless. Filling out forms on-line prior to office visit is a good way to introduce patients to expectations. The majority of patients who routinely visit Family Practices are over 55. More than 78% of patients between 21-45 prefer to visit a retail clinic for their twice a year encounter with physicians. Most don’t even need that much. Your practice job is to bring them the value of wellness through visits and information. This age group also most readily responds to email, tweets and Facebook. So use them.
- Positive outcomes require patient engagement – there are no hard fast rules (yet) for assured patient engagement, much less compliance. Every practice is in the same learning curve for these skills. Many hospitals recognizing the value of patient engagement to bring positive outcomes have teams of people researching and experimenting on this topic and bringing feedback to the physician population. Teamwork has never been more needed as multiple skills, technologies, strategies and points of view needed to achieve goals.
- Data analysis – what works and what doesn’t. These fairly simple questions of data must of course be coupled with common sense and the right questions. There will never be a template for treatment of every patient with a common disease. But, there may be decision trees that just make sense that will affect patient outcomes, reduce cost and bring patient satisfaction.
One of my personal favorite mantras is “we are all in this together, either we all win or we all lose.”
Think about it…