AI News, Physician Leadership Circle

The Power of Harnessing Patient Safety Data with Artificial Intelligence

As artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) continue expanding into health care, its full potential remains unknown.

Health care organizations are beginning to use AI and ML to improve clinical decision-making, enhance patient engagement and make health care providers more efficient and productive.

Top 10 Trends to Watch (and Act Upon) in 2020

Beyond election-year dialogue, which will continue to place health care front and center, what should health care system trustees be watching in 2020?

In some cases, what may seem routine trends will require more innovative and bold solutions, and some ground-breaking trends may indicate “watchful waiting.” Don’t be fooled if these seem “ordinary.” Solving the challenges that some of these ongoing trends present may require bold thinking and creative solutions to achieve the kind of impactful and sustainable results that this environment requires.

Taking a new look at ways to optimize human and capital resources through re-engineering care delivery and leveraging technology effectively will be necessary, as “the low-hanging fruit” of prior cost-reduction efforts has likely been plucked.

A renewed focus on ways to reduce waste and unwarranted care variation through integrating data and analytics with lean processes and team engagement will require strong leadership.

The call to make health care more affordable will be loud and continuous, as will the need to challenge traditional approaches and solutions to yield sustainable cost reduction that maintains or improves patient outcomes.

These will include technology-based companies, new primary care models, national providers of outpatient surgery and imaging, and hospital-at-home providers, all leveraging an ability to test new models of care, unencumbered by the politics and complex decision-making (and fixed costs) of a large hospital or health system.

As the population ages, keeping a watchful eye on Medicare payment policies as well as continuing to improve the coordination of care across the continuum for patients with complex, chronic conditions must be a priority for all health systems.

Implementing strategies and working with other community organizations to address mental health and health issues caused by poverty and hunger or malnutrition also must receive attention from health system leaders;

What community needs beyond medical care does your community health needs assessment identify -- e.g., housing, poverty, hunger, mental health — which your health system can address either directly or through community partners?

With high demand for physicians of many specialties, especially primary care, to serve in various roles across the health care sector beyond direct patient care, health systems will have to refresh recruitment approaches and evaluate retention strategies.

This also holds true for most clinical and technology roles: Health systems must provide a workplace that is appealing to a multigenerational and multicultural workforce seeking flexible work hours, multiple venues for learning, competitive wages and benefits, and opportunities for advancement.

Trustees Should Discuss: Does your organization have a well-defined human resources strategy that incorporates all elements of the human capital value chain and their interrelationships: recruitment, performance management, compensation and benefits, learning systems, productivity management, leadership development?

Does the strategy anticipate more changes in the future to the roles of care team members across the continuum — serving patients in their homes, through virtual technology, as well as in traditional settings?

Watch for increasing activity of employers in your market to contract directly with providers for certain specialty services (e.g., Amazon with City of Hope for cancer care) or to take risk for total cost of care.

All of these trends require increased collaboration and data sharing between physician organizations (either employed or affiliated groups) and hospitals — and physician leadership to drive the necessary changes in care models to effect value-based care delivery.

Site-neutral payments go beyond CMS policies: Many health plans (e.g., Anthem, United) have instituted payment policies requiring pre-authorization and potentially disallowing payment for certain surgical or imaging procedures in hospital-based settings.

This will put pressure on health systems to assure that their outpatient strategy is competitive in terms of patient service, affordability and care coordination, and provides facilities and other resources attractive to physicians and other clinicians.

Likewise, the high demand for post-acute care, given the aging of the population and push for “right care/right place” has fostered the expansion of a variety of post-acute providers and venues of care, including hospital care at home.

Whether your organization is a single community hospital or a multihospital, multidimensional system serving multiple states, external trends demand that health systems operate effectively across the care continuum and across multiple functions.

Your organization could play a role as a payer, technology/innovation accelerator, clinical research resource, educator and professional training site as well as a care provider in acute, post-acute, outpatient, virtual and retail care.

For many health systems, telemedicine and virtual care are still viewed as a care model in its infancy, but many of the new entrants leverage the convenience of telemedicine and virtual care to attract consumers and create loyalty.

Wearables (think Apple watch) that track key health indicators (EKG) as well as using cell phone apps to manage chronic care and leverage behavior modification tools have been and will be widely promoted.

With organizations like Apple and Google increasing their role in medical research, leveraging their powerful analytic engines, traditional clinical research organizations may either be challenged or will need to find new partners to accelerate research efforts.