Ageing population, mounting chronic diseases, and unprecedented events like the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic are putting many healthcare systems at the verge of breaking. It has been forecasted that the global healthcare spending will go up at an annual rate of 5.4% between years 2017 and 2022, from $7.7 trillion to $10.1 trillion. At the same time, the mismatch between business and administrative procedures, effectiveness of interventions and clinical outcomes are causing a lot of resources wastage.

In the US alone, an estimated of $1 trillion is believed to be misspent every year. All these challenges have probably contributed to the increased attention in technology-driven value-based care in recent years. Essentially, value-based care would access the outcomes of a patient first, consolidate those insights on a population level, before tailoring specific care pathways for the many similar patients. Digitization and exponential growth of healthcare data expedited the use of analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) to create models that will facilitate the process.

Most healthcare executives also trust that this is the way to go. According to the latest survey of more than 700 business decision makers by KPMG US, 89% of healthcare executives believed artificial intelligence (AI) is “already creating efficiencies in their systems” and 91% said AI is “increasing patient access to care”. Nevertheless, we are still far from creating a true value-based care landscape.

Value-based care requires openness, trust and strong collaboration

Although many hospitals have plans to trial or roll out the use of AI in parts of their systems, most available algorithms are largely restricted to basic forms of automations and predictions. More advanced solutions such as scanning and extracting information from hand or type-written documents for decision making, determining the urgency of referral or even early detection and prevention of diseases based on patients’ data are still work in progress.

Besides, many healthcare leaders recognize the need for a cultural shift. Yet, they do not necessarily have the operational expertise to ensure technological engagements in clinicians and patients, mitigate possible risks, transparency and privacy concerns as well as to implement a reimbursement structure. It’s advisable for healthcare leaders to stop dwelling on granular items such as addressing “how fast should the transformation take place” or “if this partnership will jeopardize their successes” that may paralyze them from taking real actions.

Also, healthcare leaders should not focus on traditional strategies that will not lead to sustainable results and never attempt to make the transition alone. Synergy is the key and short-term, actionable goals and risk management strategy should be given priorities. In the words of Jan Kimpen, Chief Medical Officer of Philips, widespread adoption of value-based care requires “openness, trust and strong collaboration and partnerships between all healthcare stakeholder groups”.

Technology-driven value-based care is not impossible

At the recent AIMed webinar: Telemedicine and Virtual Care – How COVID changed the World, both speakers – Dr. Nick Patel, Chief Digital Officer, Prisma Health and Professor Thierry Mesana – President and Chief Executive Officer, Gordon Henderson Leadership Chair and Valve Surgery Research Chair, University of Ottawa Hear Institute have witnessed how technology, specifically telehealth had changed and benefitted patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. This not only overturned the past skepticism on whether remote care can ever be useful but also bring upon the notion that deploying technology to provide value-based care is not impossible.

For example, Dr. Patel cited the US state of South Carolina has one of the highest rates for heart disease and stroke. A connected device could be given to patients to better control their diabetes and hypertension. Algorithms could be set up in these devices to direct the patients to the right avenue of care shall there be a need. There can also be a chatbot to remind patients to take their medications and get their blood glucose or blood pressure check on a daily basis. Dr. Patel believed outcomes for chronic diseases will be a crucial marker to determine if a healthcare strategy has been successful.

“At the end of the day, we want to improve the mortality of our patients. I think we should start with the problem first because technology is just an enablement tool. South Carolina ranked 43rd in the country when it comes to healthcare because we have such high rates of diabetes, heart diseases and stroke. So, we want to enable patients to take care of themselves and use technology to give them the power to do so”.

Please join AIMed and our medicine, healthcare, tech and C-suite communities for similar discussions at the first ever AIMed Health Executives virtual event on 29 September, hosted in association with the American College of Healthcare Trustees and Society of Physician Entrepreneurs (SoPE). Please click here for more details on event registration and agenda.

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Author Bio

Hazel Tang A science writer with data background and an interest in the current affair, culture, and arts; a no-med from an (almost) all-med family. Follow on Twitter.