Bridging Cure and Care
A Shared Story
It was an early spring morning when Paul received a long-awaited call from his oncologist. For the past few years, Paul and his family had been suffering because Paul was often sick and unable to live a normal life. The test results relayed over the phone call cast a shadow of uncertainty and fear over the remaining spring days for Paul and his loved ones.
Chemotherapy was the best option in fighting off a deadly cancer that was crippling his life. After two months, the life-saving treatment was working, but it had taken its toll on everyone. Frequent hospital visits burdened Paul’s family physically, emotionally and financially. Without proper training and clinical tools in the home, Paul and his family struggled to keep pace with his care plan.
Sadly, this is not only the story of Paul, but also the story of many families living in the United States. The current structure of the U.S. healthcare system and reimbursement policies may sometimes limit our medical workers’ ability to care for their patients.
Traditional and Future Medicine
For a long time, medicine has primarily taken place inside the hospital. Traditionally, the hospital billed the patients and insurance companies based on the amount of work performed in the hospital to treat the patient; this is called a fee-for-service payment model.
In short, fee-for-service means the more procedures performed and the more supplies used, the more hospitals get paid. Under this payment model, hospitals are incentivized to see more patients and perform more medical services. Many people agree this model is not ideal because hospital and patient incentives are not aligned. Patients don’t necessarily want to be in the hospital having more procedures done; they want to be healthy. Furthermore, many diseases could be prevented or more efficiently controlled if healthcare systems were incentivized to keep people out of the hospital.
Therefore, there has been a push to restructure healthcare payment so it reflects the quality of services provided; this payment structure is commonly referred to as value-based purchasing.
Ultimately, value-based purchasing incentivizes hospitals to reduce medical costs and increase the practice of preventative care. The first and best place to practice preventative care is in the home. Due to the shift towards value-based payments, a bridge extending from the curative nature of medical treatments in hospitals to the caring environment of patients at home is essential.
New Technology, Better Care
Key features of new technologies illustrate how bridging cure and care can help make lives happier and healthier.
The patient recovery experience is a team effort, including family members, friends, and clinical expertise. Streamlining healthcare data and healthcare conversations between the hospital and the home empowers providers, family members and patients. For example, with clinical oversight, family members could monitor a loved one at home through a buddy portal.
SMART & EFFICIENT
Staff burnout is a common hurdle for many healthcare workers. If not implemented appropriately, a sea of data and new technologies could make the problem worse. However, intelligent analytics and structured systems can streamline and condense vast amounts of data for effortless patient management and review. Only valuable and actionable information should be delivered to patients, family members, and clinical care team members.
SIMPLE, SIMPLE & SIMPLE
Nowadays, countless wearable devices and medical machines (i.e. mobile blood pressure machines) can be found at home. Information from these devices is extremely helpful for patients’ recovery, and yet, oftentimes this information is substantially underused. Processing and aggregating this health information has to be simple enough to ensure an easy and intuitive user experience. Technology should incorporate human touch as much as possible to become a patient’s best buddy on their journey to recovery.
Technology Can Care
The future of healthcare is extending from the hospital to the home, from cure to care. Human touch and empathy are keys to successful technologies for both patients and clinicians.
A cancer patient’s experience, like Paul’s, can be a spark today for better healthcare services tomorrow.