Healthcare organizations are operating in an uncomfortable equilibrium. The increasing complexity of care is making care coordination more difficult and increasing costs (the $1.1 trillion spent on administrative activities annually is more than eight times as much per $1 billion in revenue than in any other industry in the world), at the same time when the growing move toward value-based care (VBC) is requiring them to be more efficient. With administrators and clinicians being pulled in opposite directions by the complexity crisis and transition to value-based care, it’s no wonder burnout has risen and is systemic.
While leaders at providers and payers strategize how to navigate this dilemma, part of the answer may be as simple as changing the way they use phones and email. More specifically, process changes, including processes for clinical communication, are needed to accommodate today’s complexities and constraints. The ways we deliver care have become more and more complex. That will continue as the emphasis on whole-person care grows. This complexity results in redundancy and an increased need for communication and care coordination. Leading EHR systems were built for the fee-for-service model, and their limitations are becoming more apparent as value-based care grows.
For years healthcare professionals have had to shoulder this burden. Clinicians have had to figure out how to make it work. They send texts, they send emails, they make calls, and they send faxes. After all of this, they are then required to document everything they just communicated into notes in a tool that has been designed for billing and orders. And for years, hospital leadership has overlooked this burden for the sake of top-line growth. That has still left gaps. For example, CMS has billing codes for the time spent communicating to coordinate transplants, but is your organization getting the full reimbursement you are entitled to through these codes? If your processes miss documenting any provider-to-provider or other clinical communication, you’re not. This underscores that processes need to change and may need new tools to support them.
Our proprietary data and a separate analysis by EY show that as care complexity and value-based care activities are increasing, so is clinical workflow automation. Our Inaugural Clinical Workflow Automation Benchmark Survey for Complex Care study found that 48 percent of organizations that were using clinical workflow automation software in 2022 were planning to expand its use to new practice areas or processes in 2023. It also found overall clinical workflow automation software was on pace to double during the year.
Our study didn’t measure how much value-based care is driving increased clinical workflow automation. However, the influential consulting firm EY identified a large subset of healthcare providers and payers that have strategically chosen to prioritize investment in workflow automation as part of their repositioning for VBC. In its report, EY wrote “Organic investments focus on building and scaling internal technology capabilities such as clinical workflow automation, EHR/analytics, and interoperability required to manage value-based care efficiently.”
Another major lever organizations are pulling to better position themselves for value-based care is to pursue mergers and acquisitions. Well-structured and well-executed combinations can give the merged organization more of the scale and scope of capabilities it needs to succeed under current and future conditions. It’s worth noting that clinical workflow automation provides value in M&A situations because automating workflows is a way to make data collection, reporting and other processes consistent across merged organizations.
As we enter a whole-person care environment, value-based care will demand more integrated and coordinated care, which will increase the communication burden for front-line staff.
We have to ask ourselves if today’s healthcare system and care pathways are creating unmanageable amounts of communication and documentation tasks for clinicians, and if providing more coordinated and integrated care is a goal, is the decision to implement clinical workflow automation for communication and care coordination even a choice? That question is being answered by the rapid pace of adoption. We have helped many organizations learn about and implement clinical workflow automation software and have seen how it has benefited them by making communications more timely and convenient, automating data collection and documentation to support compliance and billing, reducing data entry and paperwork stress on clinicians and administrators, and improving outcomes by improving collaboration and saving time. Learn how a clinical workflow automation solution like FlowHawk™ can help you realize these benefits today while preparing your organization for the transition to value-based care.