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Using Technology To Build Transparency & Trust In Healthcare

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Pankaj Mittal, Co-founder & Chief Technology Officer, AB HospitalsAn industry expert, Pankaj intends to convert great ideas to business and make medical space advanced and smart

Many healthcare organizations use IT as a tool for monitoring existing processes and protocols. They have been largely replacing paper documents with electronic ones and improving billing to maximize reimbursements. Even though earnings have grown as a result, the effects of IT on diminishing the costs and boosting the standards of medical care was small, restricted to automated routine processes only. Relatively few companies have taken the measure to assess the wealth of information in their IT systems to understand the efficacy of the care they provide. Only a small number of healthcare companies have leveraged those same IT systems to see if those processes and protocols could be improved, and if so, them act accordingly.

Although considerable attention has been paid to the potential medical benefits of new technologies such as augmented reality, artificial intelligence and wearable sensors that continuously monitor vital signs, the focus is less on how organizations that provide care can get a whole lot further from their newest or planned investments in enterprise wide IT systems.

Let’s examine how Information Technology can be strategically used to build transparency and trust in health care industry.

Building Transparency
Asymmetry in information experienced by consumers, suppliers and payers hinders these vital stake holders from the information they have to draw conclusions from about what works best for them. Transparency of costs, prices, quality, and efficacy of medical products and services is an important instrument to lower the prices and improve outcome. Patients and consumers now are especially disadvantaged by the lack of transparency regarding the price and cost of medical products and services. Shielded from the past by comprehensive private or public insurance plans, consumers face significant increases in cost sharing. As prices increase, market proponents must insist that customers have access to comparative information, the cost and price of the services or products and also an investigation of the possible scenario applicable to their
purchasing decision.

We'll have to reduce and strengthen readmission, complications and healthcare associated infection reporting requirements, necessitating an investment in step development and risk adjustment methodologies, improvements in documentation and coding, normalization of reporting, and tighter linkage to repayment.

Rather than viewing ITas a transactional tool for billing, tracking, and error checking, healthcare companies should adopt it as a tool to help alter the way they deliver medical care


Over the longer term it's very important that we develop and implement measures with more value for patients. This usually means paying more attention to elective procedures and measuring results other than mortality and complications. To accomplish this vision, the effort of collecting the necessary data should be compact, and better integrated into the workflow of frontline doctors and nurses throughout the electronic medical record.

Among the numerous technological approaches aimed at improving quality and decreasing costs transparency becomes a central focus of healthcare providers. We are at a moment in time when the desire by the government to drive a value agenda has become clear. Transparency is a major enabler of the value agenda.

Building Trust
The growth of healthcare consumerism, where employees rather than employers increasingly influence or control the purchase of healthcare services is resulting in more patient demand for easy to understand information that can help them make important healthcare decisions.

Healthcare organizations face a further challenge, as public confidence is eroded by rising healthcare costs and scrutiny about hospitals' billing and collections practices. As healthcare consumerism grows, maintaining and enhancing the public’s trust will require increased transparency of information, including financial performance, quality and patient safety, community benefits and governance priorities and practices.

In absence of information and evidence, people rely on personal experiences, their own intuitive beliefs, and personal opinions to shape and sustain their belief structure about what's good and bad about healthcare. And it's extremely hard to impact peoples’ strongly held beliefs and perceptions. The good news, however, is that hospital leaders have a tremendous opportunity in this area to help shape the understanding about the relationship between costs and pricing, how to understand and use quality indicators, and the role of the governing board in providing sound leadership for the hospital’s future.

A proper Information system, making all patient faced data available to all, built with technology can resolve this issue proactively.

Conclusion: Rather than viewing IT as a transactional tool for billing, tracking, and error checking, healthcare companies should adopt it as a tool to help alter the way they deliver medical care. This may entail prioritizing quality improvement, cost cutting, making data collection easier and better, turning the information into actionable information for clinicians, and forging new operating and business models.

We've seen IT flex the price curve in a number of other businesses. The same could be true in healthcare, and there are pockets of success to point to.