Integrated Healthcare: Building blocks of successful healthcare services and technology

Abhinav Shashank
Tue 05 Jun 2018
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When the digital revolution in healthcare started, adoption of EHR solutions grew exponentially.  Healthcare services and technology companies made a name for themselves, valued at approximately $35 billion in 2016. However, over these years, these providers did not grow in scope beyond EHRs, the same is the case with medical devices and other providers. There was no thought on interoperability and engagement! Despite the current and potential growth, these companies that go solo won’t be able to sustain for long.

A recent McKinsey study puts together some interesting facts about the healthcare services and technology companies, stating that this sector is going strong with a sustained 7% CAGR. However, the study focussed on the increasing shift to patient-centricity and the need for an integrated healthcare platform to achieve scale and engagement. Given healthcare’s future growth potential worth being more than $500 billion, more and more health IT solution providers would be streamlining their efforts into making healthcare frictionless. But for a system that aims to provide patient-centric care across the continuum, healthcare remains a patchwork when looked closely. There are little avenues for participants to interact- unlike other sectors such as retail or travel. And if we look even more closely, this void of zero integration is what stems out the efficiencies in healthcare and claims over $36 billion every year.

Healthcare has multiple systems, applications, but not equivalent efficiency

It’s not uncommon for healthcare organizations to have multiple systems within their practice. In fact, an average hospital has as many as 16 distinct EHRs in use. Add that to the bunch of practice management systems, billing, claims data, and whatnot- and healthcare is no less than a mix of colliding initiatives spread across inpatient and outpatient settings. And there are hundreds, if not thousands, of different applications built for different purposes.

The fragmented healthcare has led to:

  • Inefficient and time-consuming processes
  • Compromised integrity of healthcare data
  • Challenges in coordinating care for the patient
  • Burned out-physicians
  • Increased supply and maintenance costs

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The aim of connected healthcare begins with an integrated platform

Amidst the transition to a data-oriented healthcare and a myriad of applications, organizations seem to overlook one very significant detail- the data remains the same. Once clinical, claims, billings, and all the crucial datasets are integrated on a single platform, they can be efficiently used to power several of healthcare processes such as:

  • Population health management
  • Improved primary care
  • Integrated care management across the continuum
  • Optimized network performance and utilization
  • Efficient reporting on quality measures and administrative services

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Achieving the long-standing healthcare interoperability

According to a study, interoperable processes can save healthcare as much as $36 billion. From fragmented information to broken data exchange, the lack of interoperability in the current healthcare paradigm leads to missing or faulty patient records, redundant tests and procedures, and in worst cases- wrong treatment. Additionally, with fragmented data, providers have limited visibility into the state of their population health. There could be updates in patient health or immediate gaps in care that need attention- but the lack of real-time information hinders the quality in the care we aim to achieve. Not to mention how much time is wasted as physicians try to make sense of the handful of data they have, and how patients inefficiently navigate their care journey.

The responsibility to deliver outcomes in the transformative healthcare

The McKinsey study emphasized on the need for healthcare technology providers to innovate for navigating the transformation maze of healthcare data.  As the healthcare services and technology market evolves, there are some questions both the solution providers and the traditional players should address.

Healthcare services and technology companies:

  • Scope of growth: Are the organization’s goals and growth strategy aligned with the right market segment? What are the strategies to make the value proposition a success?
  • Business model: Who’s the right end user? What benefits do they seek, and what returns should they expect? How will timing and other considerations affect value? Will you share the risk for delivering the desired outcomes?
  • Platform strategy: What is the winning strategy that would win you brownie points? What strategy will you employ to capitalize on the growth trends, and that too in a crowded space?
  • Organization and talent: How will you acquire and retain talent? Are you capable enough to expand and operate in an agile way across different business functions- especially in the areas where you have to compensate for capability gaps?
  • Insights-driven: Does the organization nurture an insights-driven culture? Can you use the data and analytics to drive better outcomes for their customers and yourselves?

The traditional players:

  • Business strategy and architecture: How will your business strategy capitalize on the expected growth? Do you have a clear sense of the capabilities you need to extract and deliver value?
  • Build vs. Buy: What segments do you need to play in to fuel your growth? Will you build the system internally, or curate solutions externally?
  • Partnerships and alliances: Does your organization have the required capabilities to manage alliances and partnerships? How will you keep the solutions harmonized in a value-added fashion?
  • Operating capabilities: How will you integrate different solution providers seamlessly? How will you maintain control over the consumer experience and deliver fluid service?
  • Risk management: Have you developed robust risk management mechanisms to ensure business continuity and the responsibility you need to deliver outcomes in an accelerating paradigm?

Efficiency in healthcare is a function of integrated approach

Having outlined the above questions, the one question which providers, technology companies and the healthcare ecosystem needs to focus on is ‘How to establish free interaction amongst all healthcare participants?’

It’s surprising how as the healthcare expands, the segments need to become more cohesive and harmonized. The metamorphoses we are seeing with industry-wide mergers and acquisitions and the emerging technologies, it’s clear that an integrated approach is what we should continue to pursue. If we really aim to reduce costs in healthcare and more importantly, enhance the quality of care for every dollar spent, we need to not just hope, but demand that change- and with room for improvement worth $500 billion in healthcare, now is the right time for a change.


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Tags: Health IT, Healthcare, Healthcare data platform, Integration
Abhinav Shashank
Integrated Healthcare: Building blocks of successful healthcare services and technology

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