What’s Really Missing in Tech to Support Great Care: It’s Not Just Shared Data

What’s Really Missing in Tech to Support Great Care

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Physicians, Nurse Practitioners, and the majority of front-line caregivers are facing ‘burnout’ at an unprecedented rate.  The phenomenon is not solely attributed to patient volumes or lack of resources specifically in underserved populated areas as is often referenced as a key culprit.  The data suggest the issue is increasingly exacerbated by the encroaching demands of Electronic Health Records (EHR) and related systems that gobble up their productive or free time.

Everyone across the healthcare ecosystem is suffering from both the burnout challenges and the challenges in EHR use; even payers, patients, and facility owners/administrators as these challenges result in delayed and fragmented care, diminished health outcomes, increased costs, and jeopardized patient outcomes.  

While there are clear issues related to EHR design and usability, another challenge is simply who has access to the records and information, and their familiarity with a particular EHR’s navigation.  To address this, significant efforts and progress are being made to interface data between systems.  For example, passing data from a hospital’s EHR to a skilled nursing facility’s EHR either as discrete data or in a summary record is beginning to become more common.  This is particularly the case as we pursue collaborative efforts in care delivery such as Value-Based Care, ACO REACH, and i-SNP.  

The Office of the National Coordinator for Information Technology (ONC), reported that nearly 95 percent of hospitals and 90 percent of office-based physicians have adopted an electronic health record (EHR) system. However, despite the widespread adoption and advancements in EHR technology, they still pose a considerable challenge to interoperability due to the persistence of data silos. That said, such interfacing requires formal data-sharing agreements between the organizations and collaboration amongst the respective technology teams to implement and maintain the interfaces.  

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Even with these, the effectiveness of such interoperability is dependent on the shared information being both complete and accurate in a timely manner, oftentimes not the case when a patient is discharged and transferred.  The premise behind such models is that all participating organizations know the others collaborating in a patient’s care in advance of that care so that the interfaces can be established.  And in the context of patient-centered care, that may not be the case.

While efforts have been made to create centralized data repositories and “data lakes” to bring all critical information together from all organizations in a geographical area, there remains a challenge; who can access the information? 

It has been reported that it can take over 90 days to provision a new user to gain access to the EHR or any such repositories.  And as these new collaborative care models progress, the number and breadth of individuals serving a particular patient will only grow.  This will further challenge the process of giving caregivers access to the information.  What if it is an independent physical therapist the patient has worked with in the past that they wish to work with now?  How long will it take to provide them access to the critical information they need to assist the patient?  Or what about the pharmacist the patient’s daughter living in another state wishes to communicate with to help support the mom’s care?  

While data aggregation is critical, in real-time it may not be enough.  What is needed is the ability to communicate across the patient-centered team of individuals supporting the patient’s care. This team is dynamic, may not be pre-defined, and may not be organizationally bound.  Such effective communication ‘fills the gap’ when information is not accessible, incomplete, or not clear.  It is the cornerstone of how healthcare works today.  Phone, fax, text, and email are all-pervasive in healthcare, all aiming to fill the information gaps.  They also don’t require formal authentication in advance as is the case with EHR-based messaging.

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The utopia of care delivery for both physicians and administrators reflects a harmonious fusion of streamlined processes, robust technological support, and a collaborative environment that prioritizes patient well-being above all else. Siloed communication systems, like those embedded within EHRs, email, and call centers, create a fragmented environment. This makes it difficult to ensure smooth workflow and effective care team collaboration.

Healthcare providers, be they physicians or facility administrators, are deeply committed to delivering quality care above all else. Like all natural orders, they seek the path of least resistance and harbor a vehement aversion to any technological advancements that might impede their delivering optimal care This is why they defer to tools like SMS/Text, WhatsApp, or phone calls despite the security risks, but these too can impede care coordination and efficiency for others on the care team.   

Today is the era of patient-centered care collaboration and coordination beyond any single organization’s control.  ACO REACH, i-SNP, and other models of value-based care are hindered in real-time by institutionally controlled information governance.  The bridge to address this is not just sharing data but a strategic approach to enabling real-time, secure, and efficient communication among team members, both within and across the care continuum, wherever that may lead.  

Hucu is a communication platform designed specifically for this purpose.  It is as simple as texting, secure / HIPAA compliant, and allows communication amongst a dynamic, patient-centered channel of physicians & caregivers that transcends organizational boundaries.  It even allows the inclusion of family, friends, and the patient themselves so everyone is on the same page.  It also improves the efficiency of the care team through advanced notifications of the right person at the right time and automated message routing and responses saving upwards of 2 hours per care team member per day chasing information and messages across disparate systems.  And in doing so, it reduces physician, NP, and staff burnout while improving the quality of care and outcomes.  

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“All of our care coordinators took this role because they want to help patients and they want to serve their communities. Hucu.ai allows them to do that in a more efficient way by focusing their time on work that really matters.” Bailey Huffman, Executive Director of the Coordinated Care Alliance.

Bridging the gap between technology, data, and human-centric care is essential for achieving the envisioned utopia of healthcare delivery, particularly when we aim to collaborate in patient-centered ways. We need a new approach that addresses the limitations of data aggregation and integration to foster real-time collaboration regardless of institutional infrastructures and staffing. This collaborative environment, built on open communication and patient-centered care delivery is a key component of care coordination and collaboration for improved outcomes and physician and staff satisfaction.

Sources

https://www.quora.com/What-do-doctors-hate-about-EMR-software-packages-and-why

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=39186252

https://www.officepracticum.com/blog/6-common-challenges-in-ehr-implementation?cn-reloaded=1

https://www.caringfortheages.com/article/S1526-4114(20)30011-1/fulltext

https://tinyurl.com/3z9mhnvm

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