By Rick Halton, VP Marketing, Lumeon

Article first appeared in HIT News available here

With the rise of SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic, commercial space exploration has become all the rage. These companies’ ambitious initiatives, despite their infancy, have proven that when leaders see the big picture and are passionate and determined, tremendous advances towards what once might have felt like an insurmountable goal start becoming real.

U.S. and international space programs have made major advances through private commercial enterprises, yielding impressive achievements including the first privately funded spacecraft sent to space; the first rocket to soft-land on earth, recover and re-fly; and the first private spaceship to dock with the International Space Station (ISS). These programs have unrelenting missions: to get to ISS, to the Moon, or even further, to Mars. And they are doing so by breaking down their journeys into smaller stages that are easier to achieve and can be connected over time to accomplish the larger goal in a safe, efficient, and profitable way. It is an approach that the healthcare industry should take note of.

Today, the siloed and fragmented nature of health care delivery, compounded by fee-for-service (FFS) reimbursement, means that we often lose sight of our larger goal – a safe, efficient, and profitable patient care journey – and therefore struggle to focus on it.

With COVID-19, the traditional economics of healthcare have been torn up. The pandemic has put a massive burden on clinical and administrative teams and introduced tremendous uncertainty for reimbursement, all while accelerating consumer expectations by a good ten years.

Demanding consumers, newly comfortable with telehealth, find it more convenient than ever to switch providers, adding operational pressure to healthcare institutions already reeling from changing protocols and financial strain. To put it succinctly, as Frost & Sullivan does in its 2021 Guide to Care Orchestration, “virtual care increased convenience at the expense of income.”

The need to satisfy heightened consumer expectations, but with tighter budgets, has led care providers to seek new ways to automate their digital care experience, while maximizing revenue. Indeed, providers need to address many urgent issues as they eye the potential return to a new “normal” healthcare sector. Still, many have fallen into the trap of silo thinking and solving the next problem on their “to-do list,” instead of thinking strategically about connecting up the patient care journey.

Overcoming fragmentation requires joining up care silos

Virtual care will undoubtedly become a permanent part of how care is now delivered, but today, more than ever, it has left the patient stranded, fending for themselves, not knowing where to go, whom to ask, or what to do next. This lack of a ‘sewn-up’ virtual care journey presents a significant patient and revenue leakage problem, and an enormous opportunity to boost revenue.

Care teams need the assistance of a proactive, automatically choreographed care journey that navigates the patient through their health system even when the patient is not physically there, making the journey cost-efficient and purposeful.

As with space exploration, there are a lot of moving parts to address in meeting these goals, and health systems might be tempted to invest in a patchwork of individual point solutions, with one tool for each problem. But a fragmented approach isn’t the right way to fix a situation in which 57% of hospital leaders say care process fragmentation is already their top challenge.

A fragmented approach is the opposite of what’s needed in the newly digitized health environment that separates patients physically from their care providers, even while raising their expectations. This fragmentation impedes cohesive experiences for patients and causes operational inefficiencies for providers.

Instead, healthcare institutions need a single overarching system that sews the business of care into an integrated whole – one that orchestrates care.

Embracing care orchestration

Lumeon’s care orchestration approach does just that, building on the foundational electronic health record (EHR) to bring scalability and agility to care delivery, with the following benefits:

  • Boosting productivity by increasing care team capacity, reducing human error, and eliminating waste.
  • Streamlining patient experience by blending physical and virtual care into a single, safe, personalized experience.
  • Shoring up revenue by keeping patients engaged, maximizing reimbursable activity, and proactively addressing care gaps.

Patients benefiting from this streamlined way of operating will experience their care as a coordinated and predictable set of decisions, tasks, interactions, and activities that all integrate with one another and point in the same direction. Patients feel proactively guided through their care on a journey beyond “bricks-and-mortar” settings, integrating all people, specialties, and functions.

Care delivery organizations that succeed post-COVID peak will be experts at seamlessly integrating in-person and on-screen care. A care orchestration platform must combine not only engagement, but care coordination, decision intelligence, and as a natural extension to the EHR.

Care journeys must revolve around the patient and care team

With the help of care orchestration, a successful healthcare provider will first and foremost see themselves as the health brand, both digital and physical, that guides, delivers, and choreographs the care experience around the patient and care team. This experience is optimized for convenience, compliance, and effectiveness, eliminating gaps in care and facilitating seamless care transitions.

The Frost & Sullivan guide explains in detail how this care orchestration benefits health systems and their patients now and in the future. Health systems should demand vendor solutions that have enterprise-wide orchestration and automation capabilities, experience across multiple clinical areas, and a robust deployment methodology, integrated with the EHR.

So, as you think about adapting to the new norm, think about it as an opportunity to create your own ‘moon shot’ to transformation. This is your journey to a better, more sustainable health care organization. It is one that keeps patients on a continuous, appropriate journey, proactively delivering the right care, at the right time. And importantly, like with space programs, it is a journey that should be broken up into easily digestible stages to accomplish a broader mission, focused on the end-to-end consumer journey.

Download your 2021 Guide to Care Orchestration.