“The most expensive piece of medical equipment, as the saying goes, is a doctor’s pen.” -Atul Gawande, renowned physician, writer, and public health researcher.
The cost? $40,000 per year- just to close the quality gaps.
That’s right. Provider organizations spend $40,000 per physician per year on reporting on quality measures, according to a report. Considering the number of physicians a little over 950,000, the total amount healthcare spends on reporting on quality measures alone is approximately $38 billion- and this is only going to rise with the increase in risk-based contracts.
But that’s not exactly the right area of focus. Reporting on quality measures is the second part. The providers are not well equipped to meet the primary driver of quality- closing the gaps in care.
The biggest challenge is that physicians are hardly aware of what they need to look into or have the right tools they need to address these gaps in care. This ultimately cost organizations millions of dollars every year- this is money they just leave on the table.
Shifting the focus to the ‘real’ challenge
The challenge isn’t that data is not available in real time to report on the measures. The challenge isn’t even the lack of visibility into the care gaps that impact the metrics. The challenge that we need to solve proactively is engaging physicians.
As a patient’s direct point of interaction with healthcare, it’s physicians who have to be empowered enough to drive the right cost- and quality-related decisions. While organizations spend the lion’s share of their budget on compiling and reporting accurate care pattern data, they often overlook the ones on the frontlines.
Why are physicians not engaged and active in closing care gaps?
The longer I have worked with provider organizations, the longer I have realized that the biggest disconnected doesn’t exist between the practices. The biggest disconnect exists between the network and the physician. Provider organizations are going leaps and bounds to integrate their clinical and claims data together, analyze their performance, and pick the right quality measures that best reflect their performance- which is a very significant first step.
It’s the physicians of the network who have limited visibility into what care gaps have to be closed, how far along are they in chasing the measures, and what does the network’s performance picture look like. Here are some stats that shed some light on physicians’ distress:
What challenges to physicians face?
Here are some challenges physicians usually face while looking to address care gaps:
What healthcare organizations can do to empower physicians?
The best way to close care gaps is face-to-face interaction, outranking any app or portal or surveys. Having said that, healthcare organizations need to decrease the amount of time physicians spend on computers, delivering them useful, actionable information at their fingertips.
Finally, it’s crucial to give physicians an insight into their own performance. The physicians should be able to evaluate their performance, view the number of care gaps they had closed, the efficiency they delivered, and make progress based on those results.
At the heart of healthcare improvement
It’s not about crossing items off a list or checking boxes. Capturing and addressing care gaps is a lifelong, continuous improvement. And since physicians are at the heart of healthcare improvement, they have to be engaged. It’s hard to drive change in healthcare if physicians are not onboard. To close the care gaps of the network efficiently and drive transformation, organizations need to understand the physicians’ desire to do the best they can for their patients- and give them the skills to accomplish that.
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