Using the Healthcare Cloud to Improve Patient Care

Using the Healthcare Cloud to Improve Patient Care

Today’s healthcare management revolves around a consumer-centric, service model. Patients are customers, and they expect the same ease of access, choices, and informed decision making they exercise in other industries to be available in their healthcare.

Higher Out of Pocket Fees Drive Decisions

A TransUnion Healthcare analysis revealed that for commercially insured patients, their balance after insurance increased 67% from 2012 to 2018. As patients bear greater personal responsibility for their medical care, they exercise more judicious consideration when selecting a provider. Reputation, often communicated through social media channels out of a provider’s direct control, is more important than ever.

The Key to Patient Care: Convenience

American consumers demand convenience across industries, and the market has responded through technical solutions that have made online banking, one-click ordering, and real-time scheduling the norm. Healthcare has to be responsive to these expectations.

Through universal adoption of electronic health records (EHR), most practices have an online patient portal. Some, with consistent and dedicated internal cultural shift, have been able to exploit the full functionality of their patient portals to provide their customers with an integrated, convenient experience using online appointments, same day appointments, telemedicine, and online instant check-in. This ability to get the patient care they want, when they want it, is a huge driver in creating a positive experience.

Receiving imaging and lab results quickly and privately through the online portal, retrieving their patient history on demand, sending messages to their provider and receiving timely responses all serve to deepen patient interactions even when not face to face with the physician. And finally, because most patients will have some financial responsibility, offering them avenues to pay their balance or make automatic payments is easier when they are already actively engaged with their online care records. Whereas once patient reimbursements were only 5-10% of a practice’s revenue, with the increasing enrollment in high deductible health plans, it can be as high as 30% of total revenues. Improving the patient experience through the creation of a patient-caregiver alliance and using the online portal as a habitual tool for better communication only makes good financial sense.

MACRA and MIPS Considerations

This ability to engage the patient in their own care, and even to complete the revenue cycle with the cooperation of the individual, will be key to meeting the requirements of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA). This legislation prioritizes the value of patient care, not the volume. It also establishes the Merit Based Incentive Payment Systems (MIPS) and rewards the use of alternative payment models (APMs). Central to these payments are patient reported outcomes, patient experience measures, care coordination measures, and measures of the appropriate use of services.

It is important to note that even though MACRA is a factor in physician, not hospital, payments, hospitals very much still have skin in the game with this legislation. When contracted physicians receive penalties if they do not meet MIPS scores, or bonuses for exceeding performance expectations, a hospital’s bottom line will be impacted. Hospitals and other organizations would do well to support physicians in providing an optimal patient experience using operational infrastructure already in place.

Cloud Storage Solutions

Medical organizations must position themselves to react to multiple service and reporting demands from their customers and from the government. Solutions hinge on an agile response centered upon seamless technical integration of the service experience. HIPAA compliant healthcare cloud storage solutions facilitate this integration.

Offsite, secure servers offer convenience, flexibility, and superior security. Structurally sound facilities and geographic distribution ensure that an organization’s data remains safe in the event of a natural disaster such as hurricane, fire, or flood. It is at these times when access to personal health information can be most crucial to physicians and patients. Flexible storage solutions provide an opportunity to expand as healthcare data storage requirements grow at exponential rates. Architectural elasticity to add interoperability between applications promotes meaningful use and targeted reliability metrics. New usernames and passwords for disparate patient facing software applications that touch a patient’s record often creates more headaches than convenience. Storage architecture that incorporates federated identity access capabilities eliminates these hiccups for greater convenience and security.

As much as patients value convenience, they also demand their personal health information be secure. While cloud storage helps organizations meet HIPAA storage diversity requirements, it also limits physical access, adds integrity controls, and aids in secure transmission of data. Choosing a cloud storage provider that has been FedRAMP certified adds an additional layer of trust. Robust security protocols work together to protect ePHI from malicious attacks, including highly publicized healthcare ransomware attacks and data breaches. Considering the sensitivity of ePHI, patients who feel their personal data is not secure will take their business elsewhere.

There are numerous pressures on healthcare organizations and physician practices to provide not only superior patient care, but to do it while meeting government requirements, maintaining revenue growth, and achieving patient service expectations. Organizations that take full advantage of healthcare cloud storage capabilities position themselves to meet these dynamic challenges for a competitive advantage over slower adapting peers unwilling or unable to transition into the new healthcare economy.

Is your organization positioned to meet the demands of mobile and discerning medical consumers? How do you take full advantage of the flexibility and security of the healthcare cloud to streamline accessibility and improve patient care? Zulucare specializes in providing healthcare cloud storage solutions that are responsive to the evolving data storage needs of growing organizations in today’s rapidly changing landscape.

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