Changing an entire industry takes time. And though healthcare has made strides in providing everyone with best-in-class care, there’s still work to do across the sector. With gaps still affecting populations throughout the country, how can leaders harness healthtech to expand access?
In this episode of the Memora Health Care Delivery Podcast, we speak with John Chelico, National Chief Medical Information Officer for CommonSpirit, about how to use digital health to expand high-quality care for all.
Improving population health includes expanding access to advanced care
Health systems continue to confront disparities in care delivery that contribute to gaps in patient experience that span gender, age, race/ethnicity, education, location, income, and more. Understanding the entire care continuum benefits when everyone’s healthier, industry leaders across the country continuously strategize how to effectively overcome health inequity.
But improving population health isn’t just about providing basic care. John suggests more advanced, complex care delivery needs to be accessible, too.
“A critical access hospital in the Midwest may be a 10-bed hospital … there's no other hospital, maybe for another 400 miles … The ability for us to deliver the same quality of care as we do to some of our academically oriented tertiary, quaternary care centers is key. And I think it really kind of comes down to not just the delivery of care for the basic chronic care and everything else, but how do we bring clinical trials to those folks? How do we bring advanced technology to those folks? And that's really, I think, the ability for us to harness technology to really get to those patients that otherwise don't have easy access to care,” John explains.
That’s why adopting digital healthcare platforms that can meet patients where they are — without the need for extra smartphone apps, broadband, or wireless — is crucial to promoting health equity everywhere.
Digital health needs to solve for existing problems within current infrastructure
With digital health blossoming over the past decade, new solutions promising to revolutionize healthcare seem to spring up every day. But to truly improve access, John argues, innovations need to focus on real-world problems providers and patients face within current systems.
When discussing what he looks for in effective healthtech, John remarks, “There are a lot of things that sound cool … but ultimately, we need to make sure that we're solving the problems that we currently have. Are we having problems with staffing shortages on the nursing and the physician side, or the provider side? How do we find technology to improve that? Where are we having a hard time making connections with our patients as they move along their care journey? And how do we make it so patients want to stay within our health system?”
Innovations that streamline operations for care teams — like clinical workflow automation — are more likely to make a positive impact on population health than solutions that seek to circumvent current health systems.
Providing high-quality care for all means understanding patients’ daily lives
Healing health disparities is not only about developing technology to help deliver high-quality care to more patients. It’s also about continuously understanding how patients live their lives outside of the episode of care.
John explains, “I think we have a lot to learn in healthcare from how people are getting used to interacting with everything else that they do in their lives. Your expectation is to have a fully functioning interaction with your driver, your supermarket, your package, your Amazon vendor, or even your interaction with your banking is all done sort of in your hands and you're in your thing at any time of day, and I think that is really a goal, is the ability for you to sort of feel in touch with your healthcare provider as you are with many of these other entities without ever interacting with a person, even though there are people behind the scenes sort of getting a lot of that done.”
Read more about how digital health can help improve access to care.