Improving patient outcomes has been the underlying goal of healthcare since, well, forever. And, healthcare providers today have more technological tools at their disposal than ever before to optimize their performances with this very goal in mind. For instance: Organizations today are able to set specific goals for improving patient outcomes and track progress in achieving them using data as a guide.
Here are three ways modern healthcare providers are approaching the challenge of improving patient outcomes — some direct, some indirect.
Reducing Readmission Rates
Perhaps the most head-on way healthcare providers are aiming to bolster outcomes for people in their care is by looking directly at patients’ measurable health and safety outcomes — then taking targeted action to try to improve them.
A prime example here is a hospital aiming to reduce readmission rates. This benchmark for measuring effectiveness of care shows healthcare providers at a glance what percentage of patients are returning to the hospital with the same ailment within a given window of time, like 30 days. This metric is widely used to assess the quality of care patients receive from a given organization.
Thus, it behooves providers to improve outcomes in this area — by giving patients the care and information they need to avoid unnecessary readmittance following their discharges. As one article in the U.S. National Library of Medicine asserts, “The focus on all-cause readmission rates incentivizes hospitals to focus on the primary medical problem, as well as a patient’s comorbid, psychological, social, and environmental conditions.”
When administrators, clinicians, allied health workers, insurance companies and researchers have access to advanced healthcare analytics, it enables decision-makers to critically analyze key performance indicators (KPIs) like readmission rates — drilling down into stored data to identify trends, relationships and outcomes over time.
Providing Value-Based Healthcare
Healthcare providers are also moving toward a value-based care model as opposed to the fee-for-service model of years past. Of course, the predominant risk associated with fee-for-service models is that providers used to have incentive to provide more services to bolster their bottom lines rather than having an incentive to provide better services. Thus, the prioritization of value-based healthcare has the potential to serve healthcare organizations and patients better.
Paying healthcare professionals based on patient outcomes rather than the individual services they provide tends to reward them for “helping patients improve their health, reduce the effects and incidence of chronic disease, and live healthier lives in an evidence-based way,” according to the New England Journal of Medicine Catalyst.
Put simply: Value-based care rewards quality over quantity. The potential upside for patients is that they pay less while experiencing more positive outcomes. The potential upside for providers is they’re often able to increase efficiency of operations while boosting patient satisfaction.
Engaging Employees and Reducing Turnover
Healthcare providers have a clear financial incentive to retain employees— it tends to be very costly to replace trained staff members. But reducing turnover is also a way to improve the patient experience. Why? High turnover rates disrupt the continuity of care. Engaged employees are more likely to perform well at work and remain in their roles over time to provide seamless care to patients.
Engaging employees and reducing turnover usually results from compensating employees fairly and providing them the support they need to do their jobs well. It’s also important to foster great performance and redirect subpar performance in an effective way. Consider the culture of your organization and the ways in which it’s either contributing to or taking away from engagement.
Healthcare providers are aiming to improve patient outcomes by reducing readmission rates, raising employee engagement and prioritizing value-based healthcare initiatives. And easier access to data analytics is helping drive these initiatives forward.