Part 2: Saving health dollars

Part One of this series challenged the relationship between health and wealth, this blog will look at why a holistic approach to healthcare is important. Enabling health and social care providers to collaborate allows for a holistic and proactive approach to community care coordination to achieve cost effective health outcomes.

An integrated care model allows healthcare to move out from the hospital and into the community, to enable a proactive approach to patient care. This provides the ability to link in social support groups that address the diverse issues surrounding poor health outcomes. These can range from poor nutrition, smoking and addictions, or issues as complex as inherited stress disorders. Community care needs to include non-medical social support organisations that can help to address and turn around health outcomes. Organisations like smoking cessation agencies, alcoholism treatment centres, counsellors, parenting advice bureaus, nutrition planning centres and housing groups. These organisations all play a pivotal role in improving the general wellbeing of populations, but their fragmented nature can negatively impact the health outcomes of the local population.

Without a way of sharing accurate and up-to-date information between community providers and healthcare organisations, important opportunities to improve patients’ health will be missed. This can lead to poorer health outcomes for individual patients, especially those with chronic illness. This can place extra burden on acute hospital resources, with heightened use of emergency rooms and increased readmission rates, requiring extra and extended hospital stays. This leads to an increase in workload and cost for healthcare organisations to manage, which in turn lengthens waiting lists for elective procedures as the acute patients take priority.

Globally, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular diseases and dementia are becoming persistent, widespread health problems and are challenging public health systems to meet increasing demand for medications and treatments. Healthcare organisations need a strategy to handle the increasing demand on their resources.

Current statistics show $3.2 trillion was spent on healthcare in the U.S. in 2016. Amongst the top areas of spend were chronic and often preventable conditions, diabetes, heart disease and back and neck pain. Of the $3.2 trillion spent, almost 30-40% is wasted spending, on unnecessary services, for example duplicate medical tests, excess administrative costs, prevention failures such as missed flu vaccinations and inefficient care delivery such as test results that have not been shared with other care coordinators.

By working in co-operation, community and medical groups can provide the patient with a more holistic, preventative approach to their healthcare needs and ultimately provide targeted and appropriate care when they require this, leading to a more cost-effective health outcome.

The best way to achieve such a complex level of collaboration in the modern age is to equip care givers with a common technology platform that allows everyone involved in an individual’s ‘circle of care’ to see and update the electronic health record. This circle of care connects members of multidisciplinary medical care teams, community social care providers, case managers, the patient and the patient’s support network through a secure online platform. In short, it supports people to stay healthy at home and in their own communities. A holistic approach to healthcare is important, as it enables health and social care providers to collaborate, and it enables a proactive approach to community care coordination to achieve cost effective health outcomes.

Part three in this series will describe the 6 As in the journey to this integrated and collaborative care platform, and the benefits of a centralised technology platform in keeping people healthy and out of hospital.

To find out more, read our White Paper below.