Guest Column | February 10, 2020

To Fully Implement Value-Based Care, We'll Have To Redefine Value Itself

By Marc Helberg, Pariveda Solutions

Value-Based Healthcare

When it comes to value-based care and all of the possibilities it promises, the discussion is usually lively. There’s a problem, however: Instead of focusing on how to get from point A to point B during implementation, it often veers into how we can jump straight to point Z. If point Z is to fully achieve value-based care, there are many more steps to take in between.

Healthcare organizations often try to do everything at once, packing as much as they possibly can into a single value-based care implementation strategy. Unfortunately, this approach might actually create more barriers than the problems it attempts to solve. Organizations are often forced to spend more time reporting value metrics than actually improving patient care — or even defining what patients themselves view as meaningful in their treatment.

A 2016 study, for instance, found that average-size medical practices in the United States spend a total of $15.4 billion every year on quality reporting. The stress of this reporting causes many physicians and specialists to burn out. However, many more are turning to healthcare-based information technology solutions to lighten the burden while also improving the quality of care.

Who Defines Value For Patients?

According to recent survey results, healthcare leaders across the industry name gaps in collecting and reporting patient data as one of the biggest barriers to implementing value-based care. There are plenty of initiatives intended to drive this change, but not enough information between healthcare providers, payers, and patients to accurately define what value truly is.

For example, for most patient populations, higher-value care means a better quality of life and longer life expectancy. For some patients, the more specific value could start with simply visiting the doctor. Perspectives are different, though, and without adequate data, healthcare systems can’t determine what individual patients need to reach the end goal of better care.

In the above case, value-based care would focus on why patients won’t visit their doctors. In one survey, 58.4 percent of respondents said they avoided hospitals for traditional reasons, many of which include time constraints and high costs. The increased use of healthcare IT — such as telehealth and solutions based on artificial intelligence — can directly address those concerns.

We can’t avoid the fact that value-based care implementation should be more seamless and that we need to reduce hospital readmissions. Fortunately, more physicians are implementing advanced data and analytics to break down the aforementioned barriers to value-based care. When surveyed, up to 64 percent of physicians using similar tools have a favorable view of their ability to assess patients’ backgrounds and needs.

Making Value-Based Care More Meaningful

As they stand, most value-based care implementations don’t account for the motivators of everyone involved in the system. For example, one-third of patients — the party healthcare is supposed to benefit the most — are unhappy with the quality of care they receive. So how can people get what they need and make value-based care useful (rather than a burden on implementation)?

Providers can start by redefining what value means using these three tips.

1. Define The Value Of Each Incremental Step
We can’t boil the ocean, so why would we focus on changing an entire healthcare system all at once? If we think about things incrementally, we can introduce, execute, and define “value” with every step needed to get there. Breaking down the pathway toward value-based care implementation makes it more palatable for doctors and patients alike.

Case in point: Not all doctors are familiar with or realize how AI works, much less how to use it in tandem with emotional intelligence to improve outcomes. It’s critical to introduce emerging concepts and systems gradually before forcing doctors to tailor their workflows around them completely. This not only gives doctors and providers time to learn new systems incrementally but also helps appease the common fear that technology will make their jobs irrelevant.

2. Have A Change-Management Strategy For Every Step Of Your Journey
For value-based care to truly stick, it has to deliver meaningful results for every industry stakeholder. Patients are generally excited about adopting healthcare-based technology; they’re already using technology in many other areas of their lives. On the other hand, doctors might fear that emerging technologies could drag down efficiency or micromanage their work.

An effective change-management strategy is proven to influence the success or failure of value-based care implementation. All groups — providers, doctors, and patients — should be involved in each step of the implementation to reduce friction.

3. Cultivate Thought Leaders In The Organization
Breaking down and managing care incrementally is key to avoiding vexing challenges in value-based care and reaching a fully outcomes-based model. However, getting everyone on board with the technology and practices required to do so could prove difficult. Choosing the right physicians to lead the way will make the shift easier for physicians who might be more resistant.

recent survey regarding telehealth revealed that younger physicians might make the best healthcare-technology thought leaders: Seventy-seven percent of physicians aged 35 to 44 said they were willing to conduct video visits with patients, while only 60 percent of physicians over the age of 55 agreed.

These three steps won’t take us all the way to point Z on their own. Regardless, they can still get us moving from point A faster and more efficiently than current value-based care implementation models. The key is redefining what value means for everyone involved and how technology will enable that value.

About The Author

Marc Helberg is the managing vice president at the Philadelphia office of Pariveda Solutions, a consulting firm driven to create innovative, growth-oriented and people-first solutions. Read more about the work Pariveda Solutions does here. He has extensive expertise in delivering strategic initiatives and brings more than 25 years of consulting and industry experience to helping Fortune 100 companies transform their operating models and achieve their business goals. Outside of the office, he enjoys scuba diving, photography, cooking, and playing music.