By Amanda Brownlie, Director of Marketing, U.S., Lumeon

As the Covid pandemic moves toward an endemic state, it will be essential for the medical establishment to examine ways to reinstate stability and patient confidence.  

Lumeon CEO and Founder Robbie Hughes recently chatted with Tom Foley of The Virtual Shift podcast about how healthcare leaders can approach these issues. Using our latest market research report, “The New Era in Perioperative Productivity” as a conversation springboard, they dove into a discussion on what it will take to drive more patient-centric care and how it could be orchestrated. Robbie’s enthusiasm for the benefits of technology in facilitating this process is palpable throughout the conversation 

A few notable highlights emerged for healthcare leaders looking to regain patient confidence and stabilize care into 2022 and beyond.

Pandemic problems

During the past two years, healthcare providers focused — by necessity — on dealing with the pandemic by deploying short-term fixes to handle first-order issues. Now that the pandemic seems to be moving toward endemicity, there is room to focus on solutions to second-order problems.

For example: 

  • How do we make new models of healthcare provision sustainable and scalable?
  • How do we make care more patient-centered so people feel confident coming back for appointments and engaging in preventative and elective care?

Robbie starts by acknowledging the elephant in the room: staffing challenges. 

“People are burnt out,” he tells Foley. “The staffing issues we see in healthcare are a material issue for both our customers and, frankly, everyone globally.” 

Staffing concerns stem in part from the unpredictability of demand. In various areas of healthcare, demand has appeared and disappeared throughout different states of the pandemic. A patient might schedule surgery but have it moved back or canceled, only to reschedule when the next Covid wave has passed. This up-and-down sense of urgency can be highly punishing for healthcare providers, so the ability to manage fluctuations in demand is key. 

Along with staffing resilience, patients’ overall care experience has also been a casualty of the pandemic. Many patients have experienced delays, changes, and complete inaccessibility to care. And even when they can move forward, they may be hesitant or fearful of engaging in-person with healthcare providers. Some of the digital tools in place such as video calls and automated reminders can be helpful but not sufficient, in helping patients feel confident in reengaging with their care.  

Getting the right technology in place

If we can address the variability in care delivery operations, we can ease the burden on staff and improve the quality of care, thereby improving patient experience. One significant way to reduce variability is to infuse automation into care delivery, which helps providers plan better, organize resources in a way that eliminates waste and redundancy, and transforms how patients perceive their care. The goal should be to weave automation throughout care delivery, from the very first point of contact to post-discharge follow-up.  

“If you can do this across the board—in patient access, in the emergency department, and in elective care—then you can start load-balancing much better across the health system,” Robbie notes.  

However, this is easier said than done. Automated processes must consider each patient’s unique needs, including how they prefer to engage and how comfortable and proficient they are with technology.  

“It’s easy from an operational point of view to do this one-size-fits-all thing where every patient is treated the same way,” says Robbie. “But we know that’s expensive, we know it’s inefficient. And we know that it is not going to give us the patient-centered care that we need. The right thing is to personalize to the needs of each patient, but the operational burden of having processes that change based on every patient is a real issue.” 

Using technologies that interact with patients on a personalized level will allow health systems to differentiate themselves, boost patient confidence, and deliver the highest quality of care while keeping costs down. Simply relying on the EHR alone will not be sufficient, as these systems were not built to meet the personalized and dynamic needs of individual patients.  

While the EHR is excellent at tracking regulatory points, billing, and documentation, providers need a tool that can analyze and recommend what an individual patient needs at a specific point in time. This capability, called “orchestration,” allows providers to understand more readily what should happen for each patient at a given time as they progress through their experience of care.  

An overlay orchestration system—sitting on top of an EHR—can sensitively understand each patient’s specific needs, task the right care team members with the right actions to meet those needs, and produce timely feedback loops, thereby creating personalization. Such personalization boosts patients’ confidence and satisfaction in their care experience while increasing providers’ efficiency and controlling costs.  

“That’s what I believe the future needs, and having delivered it ourselves, I can see the efficiencies…  and the benefits [that orchestration] brings,” Robbie concludes.

Listen to the podcast here for the full conversation.