Healthcare providers have no shortage of reasons as to why they’d want to lower the amount it costs their facility to administer treatment. Not only does doing so save them money, it also allows for those savings to be passed on to the patient, saving them money in the process as well. It’s a win-win. 

This is easier said than done, of course. A lot goes into medical treatment from training and time to disposable tools and medication. There are several expensive facets to even the most base level of treatment which makes cutting costs a game of optimizing how that treatment is administered. The more streamlined care becomes, the less time, supplies, and medication is wasted, meaning more savings for the facility that can then be transferred to the patient. 

In an effort to optimize, IT programs and patient data management systems such as EHRs have become integral to healthcare cost reduction strategies. The more information a hospital has on patients and the better they can leverage that data, the more educated and optimized an approach to treatment they can deliver. 

However, there are dozens, if not hundreds of IT-based programs a facility can employ. Which of these programs can be easily implemented and have a proven track record of improving healthcare cost reduction strategies? Furthermore, what kind of medical computer systems can help a facility make the most out of these IT programs and cut costs?

Predictive Modeling Systems

As more and more data becomes available to both providers and patients, the healthcare sector is getting better at delivering more and more predictive care. Aiding this trend, predictive modeling systems have become notably more popular for their ability to use AI in order to scan through a patient’s EHR and other available data to better predict what care they’ll need now and in the future. But how does this help lower costs?

Amazingly enough, care providers are beginning to use these systems and machine learning algorithms in order to better predict which patients are more likely to be readmitted for treatment in a short amount of time. They’re able to do so by gathering data on a patient with a certain condition as well as information from other patients with a similar condition or background. From there, the predictive modeling system can more or less predict how likely a patient is to be readmitted after treatment. It goes without saying that these generated predictions need to also be double-checked by an experienced care provider, however, having these risk scores for patients tip-off physicians as to who may be more likely to require repeated care, can be incredibly useful.

Patients who are deemed high risk by these predictive systems can have more resources put towards their treatment or transitioning from one facility to another. Additionally, these scores can also inform physicians which patients may need more informed instructions for post-discharge self-care. 

Lowering hospital readmission rates helps lower costs in two ways. Naturally, fewer resources and time are used readmitting and caring for a patient whose conditions flared up. Beyond that, lowered admission rates help your facility bypass payer penalties from readmission reduction programs such as the CMS’.

Prior Authorization Automation

Prior authorization refers to the act of seeking approval from a patient’s healthcare plan before administering new treatment or medication. It’s an incredibly necessary part of the healthcare process, but one that causes much strife as it can often ask of physicians to fill out several forms and perform manual tasks in order to submit an application for a treatment change. It’s a labor-intensive process and one that often gets in the way of actually seeing and caring for patients. Also, being such a manual process, it’s also prone to human error which can result in more time wasted, fewer patients seen, and a more burned out staff. 

Fortunately, avenues of automation exist for this incredibly monotonous practice and can go a long way towards addressing all the issues mentioned above. FierceHealthcare actually illustrated a very promising use case for prior authorization automation in which Holon Solutions, a primary care provider in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, was able to use an automated program to save around 50 hours of manual data entry a month. All hours and savings that can be transferred to the patient and to their lowered costs. 

Using programs such as the one employed at Holon Solutions, physicians and nurses can simply open their patient’s EHR record and click on an option to request an authorization. A notably simpler process compared to the usual procedure of logging onto the computer, then onto the multipayer portal, searching for a patient, manually typing in information, and then waiting for prior authorization. Medical grade RFID tablets and computers can even further cut down the time needed for prior authorization by removing the need to manually log in altogether. Replacing manual keystrokes with an RFID badge that needs to only be scanned in once can save your staff more hours and also go a long way towards addressing physician burnout

Telehealth

We talk about telehealth technology a lot on this blog and for good reason. As day by day we adapt our healthcare system to function during the COVID-19 outbreak, several facilities are beginning to notice how telehealth programs and 4K medical displays that promote high-resolution collaboration between staff and patients have diminished burnout, allowed physicians to treat more patients, and lowered healthcare costs.

One such miraculous application of telehealth is tele-triaging. Several hospitals such as Jefferson Health have been able to gauge patients and their symptoms over telehealth solutions such as video chat apps and messaging boards. Doing so has allowed these facilities to, firstly, see more patients in a short amount of time and, secondly, save money and resources on patients that don’t require testing, treatment, and bed/room allocation.

Telehealth, since before the outbreak, has also been used commonly to remotely monitor patients for acute or pronounced changes in their condition, allowing physicians to respond much more responsively to red flag symptoms. This is often done through wearable devices given to patients or mobile apps that allow users to log things such as their vitals, activity rates, and more. Gaining real-time access to this data, physicians can deliver timely changes to treatment plans remotely, eliminating the need of a time and money-draining appointment or a worsened condition due to late adaptations to unhealthy life-style choices. 

Furthermore, by gathering more data and information on patients with certain conditions, physicians can gain access to a larger pool of reference that can be used to educate decisions on how other patients are treated.

Healthcare Cost Reduction Strategies Require Investment

Optimizing treatment in such a way that allows you to cut costs for both yourself and your patients takes considerable investment. It takes time to ideate plans and come up with strategies best fit for your specific facility and it takes the proper hardware and staff training to ensure these ideas take off the ground and become realized. But once these investments are made, however, you’re very likely to see them pay off in dividends as patient outcomes improve, physicians experience less burnout, and less time and resources are used up on readmitted patients. For more information on the type of hardware and strategies needed to begin your healthcare cost reduction strategies, contact a specialist from Cybernet today.