For years, I’ve traveled around the country, working with health care practices and organizations to improve internal processes and patient outcomes. After a recent trip to Alaska, I was pleasantly surprised that 8+ hours of travel to the “Last Frontier” allowed me to witness organizations blazing trails that left a lasting impact on how I view health care.
As the cost of health care continues to trend higher to unsustainable rates and patients are questioning if they’re actually even receiving better outcomes, there’s one state in particular that is consistently forced to acknowledge all of the above: Alaska - the state with the nation’s highest medical costs.
As I’ve been involved in working with medical software over the last 15 years, I admit that I have often gotten myopic in scope as it pertains to patients and health care. It’s become easy for me to narrow my focus on helping leverage communication, tools, and software that immediately help caretakers to get that patient well and on their way to a smooth recovery. For example, patient presents, issue is diagnosed and acutely treated, patient is released from the hospital, and hopefully on their way to recovery and healthier living.
My recent trip to Alaska had been eye-opening and shifted my paradigm on what drives the costs of health care so high. I came to find that truly owning the relationship with the patient drives better overall patient outcomes. Fragmentation of patient information and poor communication amongst providers is a key driver to higher health care costs and a serious challenge when trying to deliver positive patient outcomes. This is especially challenging in a state where it can take 14 hours to transfer a patient from one hospital to the next. At pMD, we are fortunate enough to partner with several, very innovative and patient-centric organizations in the Anchorage community that are making a significant impact.
While I was in Alaska, I heard one physician mention, “What’s most important in this day and age is that someone knows you as a patient. It’s not enough to just have data computerized in a system.” These organizations that we’ve partnered with are leveraging software, processes, and care teams to coordinate efforts of communication and treatment across the entire patient’s pendulum of care. Social workers, nurses, and care coordinators help closely stay in touch with that patient in an effort to avoid re-admissions. They assist with follow-up appointments, navigate prescription refills, and answer general patient questions. They serve as the central hub, helping to coordinate care amongst PCPs, specialists, and the hospitals. In turn, by being proactive in this communication, they’re often able to prevent patients from returning back to the ER and hospitals.
For me, it was a light bulb moment in understanding that the best way to drive better patient outcomes, lower readmission rates, and reduce the costs of health care is to have a care team coordinate the care of at-risk patients even while they are not actively in the hospital. I’m sure we have all had that experience, amongst ourselves or a family member, leaving the hospital and feeling grossly unprepared to navigate the on-going medicines, therapies, and unforeseen symptoms that may arise after leaving. To be able to witness this coordination of care first-hand in Anchorage was easily one of my favorite and memorable customer site visits in over seven years at pMD.
As a company and partner, we are thrilled to play a part in providing software tools that link the community of Anchorage together. In turn, that community is able to organize, coordinate, and securely communicate amongst care teams and their patients to save lives and lower the cost of health care. We hope to be a partner with many other communities around the country, providing intuitive, coordinated technology that improves patient outcomes. For additional information about pMD's suite of products, which includes our MIPS registry, charge capture, secure messaging, and care coordination software and services, please contact pMD.