System inefficiencies are apparent across the spectrum of healthcare. Healthcare spending is still focusing on treatment rather than prevention. Taking a population health approach and shifting to a more value-based care model that prioritises quality of care provided over quantity, would enable investment in the right places and help maintain sustainable healthcare systems in the long term.

In addition to the problems we have discussed in our latest blog series, clinicians have to deal with many clinical challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic for one is not yet over. Others include the rise in mental illness and lack of skilled mental health workers, the continuing opioid crisis and increasing chronic disease.

According to the OECD, healthcare spending will outpace GDP growth for the next 15 years [1]. But is this money being spent to maximise healthcare value and take steps towards solving these challenges?

Redesigning systems for patient-centric care

The healthcare digital front door is poised to support a system redesign for population health management – by providing people with end-to-end access to the health system. However, in and of itself it won’t drastically change healthcare without also giving attention to the needs of the clinical workforce. It will take upfront investment and training of new clinicians, and a focus on putting patients at the heart of their caregiving. While this will require time and money, the benefits will easily outweigh the investment.

Integrating symptom-checking tools

A good example of this in practice is a digital front door with integrated symptom-checking tools. This technology can help patients decide what potential diagnoses they may have and recommendations for where to go for treatment. Ensuring patients are treated in the right place – for example, at home, rather than in the ED – will ensure resources are being used more effectively and enable clinicians to focus their time on those patients who need them most [2].

Improving patient education

Improving patient education will improve patient engagement which will in turn help streamline their healthcare journey. Engaging patients in their care is particularly important when treating chronic and complex diseases, with repeated studies showing that patient education and participation can hugely decrease healthcare costs, the need for hospital admissions and improve the quality of care [3, 4].

Integrating existing best-of-breed technologies

Many health systems have already adopted the use of technology solutions to help patients manage their healthcare. Leading health systems demonstrate that a digital front door should allow for integration of existing technologies and take a best-of-breed approach.

Systems already in place might include e-referral, virtual care, call centres and appointment booking systems. Taking an incremental approach to implementation, leveraging these existing successes, and extending and adding services that supplement the patient-clinician partnership will provide a holistic digital front door that is implemented, adopted and used more quickly.

Driving system-wide efficiencies

Investing in a digital-first strategy that supports patients across all healthcare interactions can extend the reach of mainstream medicine. Incorporating digital front door technology will enable people to self-manage their health and wellbeing and help ease the total load of overburdened clinicians.

This strategy coupled with ensuring the right data is available for better decision-making at the clinician and the system level will have a marked effect on overall system performance. Not only will it continue to add value to the system over time but it will ultimately ensure patients consistently receive the best possible care.

Interested in reading more about how patient-centric technology can help healthcare move towards a more sustainable future?

Read the white paper

In our next blog, we will look at how a healthcare digital front door can help address gaps in health equity.

References 

OECD. (2019, November 7). Health spending set to outpace GDP growth to 2030. Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development. Retrieved May 26, 2022, from https://www.oecd.org/health/health-spending-set-to-outpace-gdp-growth-to-2030.htmMeyer, A. N. D., Giardina, T. D., Spitzmueller, C., Shahid, U., Scott, T. M. T., & Singh, H. (2020). Patient Perspectives on the Usefulness of an Artificial Intelligence–Assisted Symptom Checker: Cross-Sectional Survey Study. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 22(1), e14679. https://doi.org/10.2196/14679Rau-Murthy, R., BA, Bristol, L., RRT, AE-C, & Pratt, D., MD, MPH. (2017). Community-Based Asthma Education. Community-Based Asthma Education, 23(2), E67-E69. Retrieved September 11, 2020, from https://www.ajmc.com/view/community-based-asthma-educationGiardina, T. D., Modi, V., Parrish, D. E., & Singh, H. (2015). The patient portal and abnormal test results: An exploratory study of patient experiences. Patient experience journal, 2(1), 148–154. Retrieved September 11, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5363705/
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