A few weeks ago we welcomed Natalie Yeadon, Co-Owner and Managing Director at Impetus Digital, to our podcast, Let’s Talk Integration. As our first external guest, we greatly appreciated the unique perspective that she had to offer with regards to integration. Natalie focused on clinical integration specifically, and its importance in the healthcare industry. This week we’ll be outlining some of the key points that she made on the podcast.
What is Clinical Integration?
Clinical integration as defined in Natalie’s article, Clinical Integration for Improving Healthcare, is a means to improve care coordination as patients move across different care settings, conditions, and providers. With better coordination, the healthcare ecosystem will benefit from safer, timely, cost-effective, patient-focused, and high-quality care.
Why is it important?
With a shift in healthcare delivery from the traditional inpatient model to the growing use of outpatient services, the healthcare ecosystem requires integration to better facilitate communication as patients move through care settings and among providers.
Inpatient Model vs Outpatient Model
As Natalie states in her article, in the last few decades the mode of healthcare delivery has shifted from a traditional inpatient model to an outpatient model. Inpatient care consists of patients who require hospital admission to treat their condition, whereas the outpatient model provides services to ensure that patients are only admitted to a hospital in cases of emergency. As a result, the healthcare system is experiencing further separation of hospital services as patients are requiring the use of multiple healthcare providers.
Despite technological advances, clinical information sharing continues to be an issue between different healthcare providers and disparate healthcare information systems, as patients move to outpatient facilities. As a result, patient medical information is often received as incomplete, negatively affecting overall patient outcomes, and consequently increasing costs. According to Natalie, to overcome these issues and enable healthcare reform, clinical integration, both within and across organizations needs to be a top priority.
Key components of Clinical Integration
In speaking about achieving clinical integration, Natalie touched on the following key components:
- An integrated platform enabling access to patient data for all providers
- Ongoing collaboration and communication between in- and outpatient providers, including both primary care physicians and specialists. This includes information on the setting of care delivery, the assessments and treatments given, and future treatment plans
- A high-level confluence of terms and systems that healthcare providers should use to provide coordinated care
Benefits and Potential Outcomes of Clinical Integration
Clinical integration has multiple benefits for healthcare, including:
- Better operational efficiency
- Improved patient experiences and clinical outcomes
- Lower care costs and better cost-effectiveness
- More comprehensive medical information to be shared
- Increase in the volume and impact of data, allowing for predictive analysis
- Greater focus placed on preventive medicine rather than the treatment of acute events
- Allowance for providers to become more attractive network participants to payers