Vast amounts of data are propelling this healthcare digital transformation. Take, for example, the growing use of patient wearables. From smartwatches to portable glucose monitors, these devices record data that can help manage chronic conditions such as diabetes and asthma, and even address clinical depression and arrhythmias. Yet this trove of data often lives on disconnected technology platforms. This inefficiency is now driving the demand for interoperability across the healthcare system.
At the same time, organizations are pressing for healthcare benefit solutions that improve quality and outcomes for patients while reducing costs for all. These forces are intersecting in three healthcare trends that will power value-based care now and for years to come — leading to hyper-personalized experiences that deliver transparency, convenience, affordability, and better health.
1. Virtual Primary Care Revolutionizes Care Delivery
The explosive growth and acceptance of virtual primary care during the pandemic is rapidly ushering in a hybrid model of care delivery that closely aligns with value-based care goals. As it assumes a more permanent role, virtual primary care has the potential to overcome social drivers of health by improving access and lowering costs of care.
Virtual primary care gives patients access to care when and where they need it. Its convenience and efficacy has bred confidence in building relationships and sharing information through healthcare technology. This technology includes mobile apps, activity trackers, and wearable devices that collect data and present a more complete picture of a patient’s health. This helps providers make more informed decisions and improve care delivery.
McKinsey has estimated that as much as $250 billion of U.S. healthcare dollars could shift to virtual or virtually enabled care. For employers to realize the full potential of virtual care, it's important to understand the value of a digital connectivity solution. Together, virtual care and digital connectivity:
- Increase the convenience of routine care and could enable virtual-first health plans.
- Improve access to behavioral health and specialty care — especially for employees in rural or urban areas, or in regions affected by nursing and physician shortages.
- Enhance care models and health outcomes for employees with chronic conditions.
With smart use of technology, virtual primary care can also support data-gathering around employee population health initiatives. It does this while enhancing the performance of your value-based care benefits offering.
2. Integrated Health Systems Foster Whole-Person Health
Integrated health systems are one of the best examples of how healthcare technology helps improve outcomes, decrease costs, and increase value. Exchanging the right data across benefits, point solutions, and healthcare providers personalizes every experience and can close gaps in care. Interoperability tech is key.
When providers have access to data sets right in the patient’s electronic medical record (EMR), they can quickly obtain relevant information and insights. Consider, for instance, the link between oral health and heart disease, prediabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease. When dental and health benefits are integrated and a patient receives dental care regularly, their dentist might spot something early and note it in the EMR. With access to that information, the primary care doctor can save time in diagnosis and improve patient outcomes.
Technology that supports whole-person healthcare includes:
- Patient activation tools (websites and apps)
- Care management platforms
- Digital patient check-in and payment
- Data analytics support
By adopting information technology that supports whole-person health, organizations stand to realize benefits, such as economies of scale, that are associated with integrated health efforts.
3. Behavioral Health Technology Transforms Care
The growing need for mental health services has inspired fresh approaches to behavioral health, including a shift away from fee-for-service payment systems toward value-based payment models. This movement is driven, in part, by:
- The increased correlation between mental and physical health.
- Technology that gives employees greater access to mental health services, tools, and resources.
The right technology can have a powerful, positive impact on mental health and physical well-being. It can improve access, promote medication adherence, and share important insights for all employees. For those who need inpatient care, these tools can also help reduce readmissions and improve post-acute outcomes. Together, this digital connectivity helps employers increase cost savings, lower absenteeism, and boost productivity and morale.
The technology that best supports improved behavioral health includes:
- Internet-based support groups, especially in situations where people aren't comfortable attending in-person meetings or can't find groups that work with their schedule or location.
- Telehealth options that make it easier to find behavioral health professionals in their plan’s network with hours that align with their schedules.
- Mobile apps that help manage addiction or other concerns through consumption trackers, visualization exercises, and daily meditations.
As employers continue to solve for tough healthcare challenges, new technologies that connect with value-based care trends will serve as a guiding light in an increasingly complex environment. Digital connectivity and virtual care tools can help you leverage evolving healthcare trends and data-driven care models that best fit your employees and your organization.