If the healthcare sector aims to produce healthy people and communities, its success cannot be measured by the number of patients treated or the length of their hospital stays. Instead, it should be measured by the industry's ability to keep patients healthy over their lifetimes.
This means that patients should not only be making fewer trips to doctor's offices, hospitals, physical rehabilitation centers, and other healthcare facilities, but they should be spending less time there as well. This is the goal of value-based care, to make healthcare more proactive rather than reactive. While this will benefit patients, healthcare professionals, and the industry as a whole, transformative change won't happen overnight.
Collecting the data and evidence that will influence the framework for value-based care and then standardizing these processes is a long-term commitment. Healthcare executives must be whole-heartedly devoted to this change for it to be successful, but they must also be open-minded and receptive to what this change will bring. As the industry evolves, it will continue to overhaul traditional practices and methods. The same is true of traditional leadership.
Transitioning to a people-first approach to care requires forward-thinking leadership. If healthcare executives are going to support an ongoing legacy of success, this is what their approach to leadership must look like.
A commitment to transforming traditional methods
Transformation isn't possible if you're just dressing up an outdated initiative and calling it 'new.' Healthcare executives must be dedicated to real change, and this means uprooting their clinical models to open up opportunities for innovative processes that are designed to suit their patients' needs and produce better outcomes.
An example of this is patient navigators, who guide patients through the healthcare system. This can take the form of anything from connecting patients to local health services, scheduling physician appointments and providing follow-ups, and completing any non-medical support tasks. One study found that these navigators helped to reduce the overuse of emergency rooms for nonemergency cases by up to 43 percent and reduced hospital readmissions by up to 60 percent.
Using a patient navigator is a welcome reprieve for physicians and nurses because it frees up their time, benefits patients, and also improves a facility's bottom line. Patients did not feel as if they were being denied healthcare or being shunted away from the system. Instead, they left the encounters happier and more satisfied than they did by seeking non-emergency care at the ER.
The patient navigator program, which is now being rolled out in 35 locations across the United States, demonstrates how just one small (but mighty) change can make a significant difference.
In addition, healthcare executives must also be on top of initiatives that will beget industry-wide change — technology being the major player here.
Advancements like telehealth and artificial intelligence aren't just passing trends, they're necessary for value-based care to work. The entire purpose of value-based care is making healthcare more accessible while reducing costs and improving communication. These are all tenets of telemedicine. And while healthcare organizations have already begun leveraging AI for predictive analysis, population health management, data collection, and clinical decision-making, these benefits will become even more profound as value-based care evolves.
Let patients inform their care
Patients want more from their healthcare system, and understandably so. Value-based care answers that charge, helping to bridge the gap between patient expectations and patient care. Of course, this will look different across various facilities, as certain populations require more nuanced services.
Traditionally, caregivers were the ones to define patient care because there was nothing in place to support more customized options. But patients are now more informed about their own diagnoses and have embraced self-advocacy. They can now approach their medical services as if they were engaging with any other business and demand greater value that meets their needs.
Healthcare executives must let their patients’ preferences inform the care they receive. This could look like renovating a space to make patients feel more comfortable, offering more flexibility with scheduling, upgrading medical equipment, or implementing better telehealth services.
Skilled nursing facilities are no different, and long-term care centers that cater to patient preferences stand out in the crowded healthcare environment. These changes are well worth the consideration; 20 percent of people say that if their needs aren't met, they'll switch providers. When patients have access to choices and flexible options, they feel seen and recognized as individuals, not just cogs in a bigger system.
An openness to a higher level of transparency
The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services require that hospitals list their prices online, but many are misleading. Uncertainty and a lack of information make patients feel insecure and often reluctant about receiving health services.
Therefore it’s not surprising that patients want more transparency in their healthcare. They want to understand the metrics and what the line items on their hospital bills mean. When patients don't get answers to their questions, they often feel deceived or alienated from their healthcare providers. This is especially true in a world where so much medical information is available with just a click online.
Healthcare leaders can transform their organizations by opening up better lines of communication with patients about what they can expect before, during, and after their visits. Being upfront with patients is a major part of ensuring positive outcomes, and that’s especially true as payment models change alongside value-based care. However, that kind of transparency must start from the top and trickle down throughout an organization, from healthcare executives to medical personnel to nonclinical staff.
Value-based care is transforming the type of leadership needed at healthcare organizations. These leaders must be visionaries; they must be unafraid to embrace creativity, take risks, and engage a new approach to their entire operations. A commitment to outdated structures may have once been sufficient to realize organizational growth and positive patient outcomes, but as the industry evolves, this is no longer an option.