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New technologies should complement patient-centered care, not define it

Patient-centered care has become a focal point for providers looking to prove the value of their care. Many systems are looking to new technologies and disruptive, consumer-facing services, yet it’s not always clear whether these moves are appealing to each party.

“For us, a lot of the challenge has been the definition for patient-centered care,” Blix Rice, vice president of innovation and transformation at the Care Coordination Institute — which works with clinically integrated networks, accountable care organizations, and other provider organizations to integrate new services into care models — told MobiHealthNews.

“Oftentimes it seems that what the patient feels like they want isn’t always consistent with what the healthcare community thinks the patient needs, and that mismatch, I think, has contributed to some of the apparent lag in the healthcare industry rising to the level of consumers’ expectations of what they might find in retail. Here [at the Care Coordination Institute], we’re working on bridging that and how we can create models of care that meet the patient’s desire for convenience.”

Rice will be participating in a symposium discussing innovations that are changing patient-centered care at next month’s Health 2.0 Conference in Santa Clara, California. Speaking on the topic beforehand, he stressed the need for providers to develop models that better engage low-risk, healthier patients who may not have healthcare at the forefront of their mind. Importantly, he said that the technologies adopted by providers to engage high- and low-frequency patients should not dictate a provider’s approach to care and engagement.

“We’re always trying to bring the technology to the care model rather than bring the care model [to] the technology,” he said. “We work with quite a diverse population of patients, and in many ways it’s much more apparent what needs to be done with technology to manage those who are, say, chronically ill, high risk, capturing data in the home. … but it’s that lower-risk, larger segment of the population we also [need to target].”

As an example, Rice cited his organization’s implementation of Bright.md’s SmartExam offering into the care models it designs. An asynchronous service that engages patients by allowing them to directly input their symptoms, its also helps users track and manage treatment plans using their own personal device.

“But the part that applies to our care model is that we want anyone interfacing with our system, we want all that clinical information to go into [EHRs] so that later if they present with some other condition, it’s all part of that record. That was the premise for picking this one particular application” he explained. “Once they complete the encounter through SmartExam, that record is in our medical record, and if someone is completing the interview, if at any point in time those answers suggest they need a higher level of care, it’s one of our triage nurses that contacts the patient and talks with them about their symptoms, if they need an appointment, or guides them to other levels of care.”

Rice’s care model-first approach to tech innovation extends beyond the provider. Specifically, he advised developers and startups looking for provider partners to not take it personally if an organization decides their service is not a good fit for their system.

“One of the biggest challenges we face when working with developers … is there are so many problems we can be addressing in the delivery system, the important part is trying to put those in some sort of priority. My suggestion to developers as we work with companies is to talk with us about the care model that we’re putting in place and the population we’re trying to reach right now, and if that situation is consistent with the problem you’re trying to address we’re going to have a fit. If we don’t, it’s not because that problem isn’t real in the world, it just isn’t the priority that we’re trying to address at this moment.”

Rice’s Health 2.0 session on technology for patient-centered care will be held at 10:35 a.m. on September 16.

Health 2.0

The Santa Clara conference will showcase cutting-edge innovation transforming healthcare Sept. 16-18.

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