Healthcare organizations face another challenging year in 2023, as many struggle to answer the high demand for care. In the last few months, health systems have faced a flare up in Respitory Syncytial Virus (RSV), the seasonal flu, and ongoing COVID cases that is stretching demand for care to unsustainable levels. In addition, the uncertain economy, new competitive entrants, and capacity, supply, and staffing challenges are forcing healthcare organizations to act.
A new approach to engagement and communication is needed
Value-based initiatives are helping to reduce strain on health systems. Value-based care is centered on the idea of improving healthcare quality for patients and preventing problems before they start. It seeks to advance the triple aim of providing better care for individuals, improving population health management strategies and reducing healthcare costs.
For most health systems this requires a focus on delivering disease management services to high-risk patient populations. Improved patient engagement and reduction in care gaps can lower the cost of chronic care treatment dramatically. Chronic disease care is one of the largest costs in the U.S. healthcare system, and reducing this expense is a national priority. Healthcare organizations should increase investments in personalized communication to build engagement with their patients and members struggling with chronic disease. This type of engagement can reduce gaps in care, increase adherence and address the social determinates of health through personalized communications.
Employee engagement and retention is also a top priority for healthcare organizations. As such, smart healthcare organizations will begin to use these same personalized communication capabilities with clinicians and staff to improve employee engagement, reduce burnout and minimize frustration.
Retail health clinics present challenges to the primary care market
Retail healthcare clinics are rapidly expanding. Healthcare makes up one-sixth of the U.S. economy and impacts every citizen. This has led to intense interest in healthcare by the retail and technology industries as they move into new markets. With a focus on attracting business using advanced customer-facing technologies and analytics to enter healthcare delivery, retail healthcare organizations are quickly winning patients. They are building improved patient experiences with virtual-first scheduling, convenient local appointments and reduced costs. Numerous acquisitions in the market show that CVS, Walmart, Walgreens, Amazon and others are quickly trying to buy critical patient care assets to grow their share of the healthcare market.
Primary-care practices may begin to be impacted as patients opt for speed, convenience and cost savings, given the difficulty and delay in seeing their primary care physician. This will put pressure on health systems to adopt better patient engagement platforms to compete for care delivery.
Remote patient monitoring use increases
Remote patient monitoring (RPM) will gain traction as heath organizations embrace chronic disease management and lower-cost settings of care. Six in ten Americans live with at least one chronic disease. The expansion of RPM should help patients avoid hospitalization and better manage their chronic conditions at home. This becomes even more important as we look to build capacity and lower utilization on overburdened care delivery organizations.
While at-home care is not the right solution for all (or even most) patients, it will continue to gain share as patients elect to recover at home and health organizations try to reduce utilization. While this is an attractive option, detailed data and analysis will need to inform our understanding of when at-home healthcare is beneficial and appropriate. Expect to see more studies focused on evidence-based telemedicine and RPM to establish the value of remote care compared to in-person care for chronic conditions as well as rehabilitation. Early deployments are generating data that suggests this is a promising opportunity to improve patient satisfaction and reduce costs, and more patients are being enrolled in RPM programs every day.
In 2023, healthcare companies will need to work with patients more closely and collaboratively to meet objectives. Many of the problems facing the market require both changes to behavior and business models; doing this during a period of scarcity and economic uncertainty is undoubtedly challenging.
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