Smarter care: Focusing on consumer engagement for better health outcomes

Actionable insights and intelligent health care experiences lead to personalized care and improved operations for providers.
By Zane Burke
12:00 PM
consumer engagement for better health outcomes

Consumer behaviors have dramatically changed the healthcare landscape, and expectations of technology are at an all-time high. We are living in a time when technology is rapidly transforming our quality of life. Following the trend of other industries, health information will become more intelligent, easier and more natural to use. Providers and consumers need streamlined, adaptive workflows that are "aware" of all factors — clinical, social, environmental and geographic — that affect health and personal engagement.

Major consumer brands are investing heavily in healthcare, but this is a complex industry and it will take experience and collaboration to deliver on the health IT infrastructure Cerner has helped pioneer.

Consumers are looking for additional points of contact with their healthcare providers and easier access to their health information. The future of health IT relies on forming a personal connection with consumers and creating a sticky experience that helps providers become trusted partners in their health and wellness journey.

It all starts by creating smarter care within.

Continuous advancement through smarter care

Everyone wants smarter care — we all want better health outcomes, we all want to be as healthy as we can be and we all want to be as close to home as possible. Smarter care is about the use of actionable health information to drive meaningful outcomes and improve a person's health status. 

Smarter care isn't just about helping improve individual health outcomes. It can also reduce costs and streamline operations for healthcare providers. Smarter care will help anticipate providers' needs as the industry consolidates, regulations change and reimbursement models shift. With the addition of market drivers like value-based care and economic factors that influence how consumers engage in their health decisions, there is room for providers to reduce inefficiencies and anticipate future needs throughout the healthcare system.

The effective use of data also relies on an appropriate infrastructure in all care settings, including rural community hospitals. It's important to tailor our platform to the unique needs of each client, which for Cerner means employing on-premise data hosting, remote hosting, as well as public and private clouds.

Healthcare's shift to hybrid cloud environments in recent years has been fascinating, with many successes found in rural, small, independent hospital settings — a traditionally underserved segment of the industry. While these community, critical access and specialty hospitals certainly face a unique set of challenges, they have displayed a strong propensity to leverage healthcare technology to improve clinical and financial outcomes.

This may be best evidenced by the recent announcement of Pagosa Springs Medical Center, an 11-bed critical access hospital in rural Colorado, having just achieved Stage 7 of the HIMSS Electronic Medical Record Adoption Model to better serve their community.

[Also: Just 4 years after first EHR go-live, rural hospital aims for HIMSS Stage 7]

We also looked to the cloud in creating HealtheIntent, our population health management platform that pulls information from disparate sources into one longitudinal record that spans the individual's care experiences.

Creating intelligent experiences

Smarter care involves creating intelligent experiences. The raw power of health data must be leveraged to uncover insights that help improve the health of the individual and the community. 

As intelligence and machine learning continues to advance, they will provide a wider array of treatment recommendations as well as streamline routine tasks like clinical documentation. Over time, the provider will continue to gain meaningful insights to improve care each day. While the full potential of machine learning and cognitive assistance lies in the future, the benefits of intelligence can be leveraged now by the provider to create a more efficient workflow and a more personalized, smarter experience.

Standards-first interoperability

One of the most crucial factors contributing to smarter, patient-centric care is interoperability. If we boil interoperability down to its essence, it answers this simple question: "Can I have my record?" The answer to this should be a resounding "yes" for all healthcare providers. Consumer-directed health records empower consumers to take an active role in managing their own health. Unifying multiple platforms and data sources across the continuum creates one record, one plan and one bill, giving consumers their health information in one place, regardless of where they receive care.  

A standards-first approach to data sharing is the only way forward. Health IT companies and providers working together facilitates easy data sharing through APIs. This approach not only improves interoperability across platforms, but it encourages innovation. Open APIs in health care are ripe for software developers to build robust applications to create more consumer-friendly experiences and smarter workflows for doctors. Innovation begins with the ability to share, and the industry is making progress toward the free flow of data securely across multiple sources.

Smarter care and consumerism are intertwined in the evolving healthcare landscape. The industry shift toward value-based, consumer-centered care is nascent, but it is already influencing every corner of health IT development. Providers must become data-driven organizations, offering smarter care that engages the consumer and streamlines their operations. This will be no easy task, but we have the technology, the desire and the resources to improve health care for every person. With this strong foundation, intelligence and machine learning will create a more personalized consumer experience and move the needle on systematic, preventative care.

Working to provide smarter care and better outcomes is who Cerner is at its core. No longer will consumers receive fragmented care that results in costly treatments; instead, smarter care will lead to individualized healthcare experiences that prevent disease before it takes hold. This next phase of health care depends on finding new ways for individuals to take an active role in their wellness, while continuing to advance care delivery and outcomes – it's time to provide smarter care.

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