Anyone who has visited a doctor’s office or hospital is familiar with the sometimes extensive wait times between check-in and receiving care. Doctors’ offices and hospitals run on tight schedules to maximize the number of patients seen each day to increase revenue. To alleviate hospital and office congestion, plus allow healthcare providers more time to ensure quality care is given, there has been a push for Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) programs. The essential goal is to move the “center of care” from the clinical setting to a more patient focused or home centered care.
A report reviewing the 2012 healthcare costs titled Benefits of Implementing the Primary Care Patient-Centered Medical Home explains that about 30 percent, or approximately $700 billion, of the $2.5 trillion in annual health care spending in the United States was unnecessary. The overall aim is to enhance the provider-patient continuum of care while reducing expenses and resources across the entire healthcare spectrum. To support the PCMH program, healthcare providers must leverage robust Health Information Technologies (HIT) by utilizing applications from software providers including telehealth modules, mobile healthcare apps, wearable technology, EMRs, online portals, and practice management systems. These applications can be offered modularly or as a complete platform by software providers in the healthcare space.
Telehealth applications are an integral part of the PCMH platform. It is well known that smartphones and tablets have become a societal standard. The healthcare industry wants to utilize the convenience of these devices to provide viable alternatives to in-office, face-to-face consultation. Mobile and tablet applications that provide patients with the support to be actively engaged in their personal health, plus provide communication modules for real-time conversations with a patient’s healthcare team are pivotal to improving access to care for patients who may be unable, unwilling, or overzealous to undergo frequent trips to the doctor’s office. Software providers must be ready to offer applications that facilitate virtual visitation, video-conferencing, and visual monitoring with document and image capture plug-ins. These applications help healthcare providers by giving them the tools to improve the ability to offer quality care remotely.
Telehealth applications should be able to integrate with wearable technology hardware to track and record data. Such integrations allow healthcare providers to have all the necessary information to improve patient outcomes and are therefore a vital part of an effective PCMH platform. It is paramount to offer the architecture for the integration of Electronic Medical / Health Records (EMR/EHR) and all data collected from blood pressure, vital sign, pulse oximetry, EKG, glucose monitoring, and other wearable health software for hardware by providing the proper Application Program Interface (API).
One of the objectives of the PCMH program is to provide comprehensive team-based-care from a diverse set of specialists, general physicians, nurses, and care coordinators. In order for healthcare professionals to promote the best coordinated care possible within the PCMH model they will need cloud-based EMR/EHR and patient portals. This aspect is very important for software providers to keep in mind as it will increase the mobility of information to healthcare professionals juxtaposed to standalone or native applications. Using the flexibility of cloud-based electronic records will facilitate movement between different levels of care within multiple practices. This is where interoperability standards will be key to allowing fully functional, broad access by healthcare providers using multiple types of technology to streamline access to important medical records. Additionally, these platforms must comply with Meaningful Use (MU-1/MU-2) regulations to ensure the systems will meet all regulatory standards.
Cloud-based systems must employ a restrictive access security feature for patient portals to allow for the highest levels of security when dealing with sensitive patient information. This will permit patients and medical professionals to access records and remain HIPAA compliant. The portals will be used by doctors and patients, hence, there should be a bilateral approach to portal development. For healthcare providers they need access to the complete EMR, but this access will need to be verified through multiple security features to ensure the information does not fall into the wrong hands. In regard to patients, they should have secured access to a navigable dashboard that provides quick access to relevant health information. Pertinent information from their EMR should be parsed, as to provide a clear overview of lab results, diagnoses, medication list, immunizations, changes in health, and other essential information. Patients should be able to update personal information, request medication renewals, schedule appointments, and send messages to their healthcare team for non-emergency updates to health conditions.
In order for healthcare providers to arrange effective treatment they need a solid software backbone. Software providers must incorporate a practice management platform to accommodate the PCMH model. The new practice management system must incorporate technologies to improve workflows and eliminate waste by integrating time management modules, scheduling applications, and revenue cycle management software. With the push for 24/7 care through office visits and multiple electronic mediums, it is imperative to be able to coordinate staff effectively. Automating common office tasks will allow caregivers more time to dedicate to quality care. Therefore, software proprietors should offer practice management software with electronic insurance validation software, electronic billing presentment, Point-of-Sale (POS) integration, appointment setting, e-prescriptions, and other streamlined office functions.
Patient Centered Medical Home is a model that forward thinking healthcare providers and support officials are striving to implement. This model is what is going to revolutionize the healthcare industry by forcing hospitals and practices to value quality over quantity. Software proprietors who develop the appropriate software to accommodate the shift will find themselves on the ground floor of the healthcare transformation, leading the way for future innovations that will drive the Healthcare industry in the coming years. Using industry specific software developers will help software providers engineer a complete PCMH solution that is compliant with healthcare regulations.
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