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The Affordable Care Act (ACA) introduced healthcare’s Triple Aim concept, with the objectives of reducing healthcare costs, increasing patient engagement, and improving health outcomes. To optimize the system’s performance, the ACA mandated a total redesign of the way healthcare is organized, managed, paid for, delivered, and consumed. From the ACA’s perspective, reducing healthcare costs means preventing hospital readmissions, reducing incidents of medication non-adherence, and moving from episodic care to a wellness-based approach. This has resulted in a shift of care from hospitals to remote nursing homes, emergency response care centers, and home settings. In this new model, three key trends have emerged: a shift of financial risk to patients, the growth of self-care, and the proliferation of self-health devices and tools. Patients increasingly want to participate in their own care alternatives and share in decision-making.
There has been an exponential growth of wearable health devices and mobile applications to engage patients in the management of their own healthcare by encouraging healthier choices and lifestyles that can help contain long-term medical costs. According to ABI Research, the market for wearable devices that meet demand for real-time data, including personal health information, will soar by 2017. Any technology solution needs to take into account the key concept of human empowerment. Approximately 69 percent of total healthcare costs are heavily influenced by consumer behavior. Thus, getting patients to change their behavior – in terms of making healthier choices, and seeking and receiving appropriate preventive and primary care to manage their health conditions – is critical to changing the wellness equation. Changing behavior requires addressing patient mindsets at different psychological stages in the disease journey, from diagnosis to care, and contains several key components: patient activation, patient engagement, patient motivation, and patient retention.
Real time biometric and wellness data combined with behavioral and social information gives a holistic view of the patient. Care providers can leverage personal devices and sensors to increase self-management, apply gamification and analytics to change patient behavior, and provide healthcare professionals with access to real-time information to enable proactive support and intervention.
There are multiple factors that can lead to better and timely health management: leveraging newer tools to increase patient self-management; gathering data from devices and sensors; designing mobile applications that better engage with patients; integrating information from several health data systems; and connecting the patient seamlessly to the healthcare ecosystem. Human intervention via coaching buddies will encourage and empower patients to embrace self-improvement.
Together, all of the above components help drive desired and sustainable behavioral changes, such as improving health literacy, adhering to medications and care plans, and incorporating lifestyle changes—all of which are crucial for chronic disease management. However, treating the sick alone is only a first step in optimizing the healthcare system. Stakeholders need to evaluate wellness options to improve outcomes for healthy people amid ongoing healthcare policy changes. They also need to look at options that will bring about sustainable behavior changes in patients. Leveraging both high-tech and high-touch is one way to ensure healthier outcomes for all—patients, providers and payers alike.
About the Author: Nagaraja Srivatsan has more than 25 years of experience in the IT industry and deep knowledge of the Healthcare & Life Sciences domain. He is currently part of the emerging business accelerator leadership team, identifying, incubating, and growing innovative and transformational ventures on new markets, platforms, and solutions for the Healthcare & Life Sciences industry. In addition, he is also the venture partner guiding Cognizant’s efforts to penetrate the Government and Energy & Utilities sectors globally.
For the last decade, he has been responsible for providing leadership for growing Cognizant’s Life Sciences practice that includes strategic direction, long-term partnerships with customers, relationships, and delivery management. Srivatsan has worked with the many of the top 20 global life sciences organizations providing them comprehensive consulting, analytics, end-to-end business process and IT solutions. Srivatsan has provided strategic leadership in helping life sciences organizations leverage the global delivery model effectively to transform their businesses.