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Q&A: Reimagining the health care economy

Estimated read time: 4 minutes

by Cerner Corporation | Ryan Hamilton

Published on 8/11/2020

From labor shortages and juggling multiple payment models to battling provider fatigue, as well as the health, financial and operational complications brought on by COVID-19 – provider organizations and networks have faced significant challenges the past few years.

In this Q&A with Ryan Hamilton, senior vice president of strategic growth at Cerner, we discuss how a modern, systematic approach to health care can help organizations navigate chaos and complexity to simultaneously build, grow and scale provider, payer, employer and consumer networks.

Q: What has COVID-19 taught us about how health care providers and networks should approach their growth strategies?

A: Despite health care providing a critical service, many health care providers and networks don’t have a systematic approach to efficiently and effectively manage local, regional and national health economies.

In dramatic fashion, COVID-19 has shown that health care business models are highly sensitive to disruption when there are changes to supply – like personal protective equipment and ventilators – or demand – as in the suspension of elective procedures during shelter-in-place orders.

Like all industries, health care’s effectiveness and sustainability are based in part on how efficiently it can match supply and demand, whether the business strategy is management of fee-for-service revenue streams, COVID-19 testing campaigns or value-based care populations.

Q: How are health care providers adapting their strategies in response to COVID-19?

A: One of the biggest trends we’re seeing is providers building health networks in the zip codes and regions they serve. Technology is key to providing cost-effective health care that’s personalized and scalable across broad geographic areas. Providers would benefit from a new technology layer that:

  • Extends across all venues of care
  • Organizes data around the person
  • Matches unique needs to available community resources
  • Works with their existing systems and those of their network affiliates

Q: How can this technology layer fit within a provider’s existing technology infrastructure?

A: Today, most electronic health records (EHRs) focus on documenting medical events. A new technology layer above the EHR can help providers effectively and efficiently manage health care costs without sacrificing quality.

The new layer builds on the foundation of the EHR by activating consumer, employee, patient and member strategies. It also enables providers to:

  • Acquire new patients through targeted campaigns and community collaborations
  • Deliver and manage care from pre-appointment communication through care coordination assistance and follow-up needs – virtually, in-person, at an employer site or other location
  • Engage and retain network members through outreach, self-management tools and community-based programs

Q: How is Cerner helping providers scale their strategies?

A: We find patterns in the data that produce a sense of sameness across providers, payers, employers and government entities. We intentionally align within these segments to understand their unique challenges and approaches. Our goal is to create a national digital health care backbone that spans nearly every health care organization and provider.

Q: What key technology competencies are critical for success?

A: The health care organizations that consistently create better outcomes at a lower price have a better chance for success. Data management can be a large contributor toward achieving this objective. To effectively execute a quality data program, providers must be able to:

  • Aggregate, normalize and reference data
  • Use intelligence to understand what’s happening, why it’s happening and what should occur
  • Anticipate and prioritize future demand
  • Understand and align available supply
  • Match the needs of patients to resources in the community
  • Communicate, activate and coordinate care delivery across providers and consumers
  • Track progress against goals and quickly adjust

Health care today is filled with unknowns. A systematic approach that combines data and insights can help providers build, grow and scale their care delivery networks, with the potential of lowering costs and increasing quality outcomes.

To learn more, see how we’re helping Geisinger, a member of Keystone Accountable Care Organization, connect its data across a diverse EHR and payer environment here.

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