From an evolution standpoint, the methods for information transfer and communication have come a long way from the days of the telegraph. Up until the 1990s, the fax machine was the most widely used communication device in almost all industries. The 21st century ushered in a new age of mobile and web-based communication tools. The American healthcare system, however, remains stuck in the past. As it stands, approximately 75% of all medical communication still takes place via fax. While an overwhelming majority of clinics, hospitals, and post-acute care (PAC) providers have digitized their patient records, the means to share this electronic information across different healthcare settings proves difficult.
What great timing for the ACMA (American Case Management Association) National Conference to be hosted in Houston this year! The winter has dragged on and on in the Midwest and our Chicago team definitely enjoyed the 80 degree temps. Cheering on the Houston Rockets during a playoff game was certainly a bonus! But more importantly, as with all great conferences, I had the opportunity to learn from and engage with folks from across the country. Stepping back and hearing about the challenges that case managers face as well as about the innovations that are on the horizon convinced me that the field is ripe for disruption.
The Data Gap: Sharing Information
As healthcare providers strive to navigate patients safely across the care continuum, hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and other post-acute care providers need effective processes for sharing information and tracking data regarding care transitions, patient statuses, and clinical outcomes. This need is especially heightened in an era of bundled payments and value-based purchasing where delivery of high quality and cost-efficient care is of utmost importance.
As the number of seniors continues to rise in the United States, so does the need for home health agencies that are instrumental in providing lower cost, long-term care in the home. Among the 67,000 long-term care providers who took care of over 9,000,000 patients in the year 2014, the CDC reports that roughly 13,000 were home health agencies charged with taking care of patients in the home. In the recent years, the increasing pressure from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to bundle payments and reduce hospital readmissions has led hospitals to seek out home health agencies that can provide the most optimal and efficient care for their patients in the post-acute care setting. Now is the time for home health agencies to differentiate themselves in a fragmented market. A sound marketing strategy, consisting of three key steps, can make a meaningful difference.