Military healthcare contractors help bring cost-effective services to patients today while building for the future. To understand the healthcare needs of tomorrow, we need to look closely at current demographics and trends. The United States population is aging, and this is increasing the demand for services while, at the same time, reducing the pool of healthcare workers available to meet the demand. There are innovations in medical and assistive devices, pharmaceuticals, gene therapies, and immune therapies. While the technology to extend quality of life has improved, American healthcare costs have climbed. Drivers of costs include a fragmented care system with redundancies, overutilization of services, and operational inefficiencies.
In many ways, the Military Health System is a microcosm of the broader healthcare system. It provides complete services to enlisted personnel, retirees, and their families. It also has mission-based demands that push the envelope for innovation and, as a government healthcare system, has stringent oversight and fiscal accountability requirements.
As a unique provider of services, the MHS drives innovation and sets the foundation for meeting tomorrow’s needs. Military healthcare contractors are vital partners in the initiatives as they bring essential information technology and operational expertise to the table when needed. By partnering with healthcare contractors, the Military has access to specialists without hiring, developing, training, and retaining staff that would be under-utilized when the technology initiatives are completed.
Leveraging Technological Experience for Process Improvement
Process improvement and quality of care go hand in hand. Healthcare technology that has the potential for process improvement includes technology related to diagnosis, treatment, maintaining records, collaboration with providers, scheduling, billing, and financial and operational management.
- Technology can break down siloes. Siloed systems bog down the efficiencies and prevent providers and administrators from collaborating effectively with other providers – whether internally or externally. Technological innovations make patient hand-offs more efficient and reduce errors as accurate information is available to all providers.
- Electronic medical records should be portable and readily accessible by patients and other providers. This portability increases the quality of information on medical background and treatment, reduces unnecessary diagnostic procedures, and enhances the patient’s engagement and compliance with treatment.
- Data analytics can identify opportunities for process improvement and workforce optimization. There is data at every phase of healthcare operations, including but not limited to patient data and satisfaction, utilization, human resources data, and payee reimbursement. In the hands of an experienced healthcare contractor, this data tells a story and can provide a road map to process improvements.
- Information systems powered by Artificial intelligence impact processes in several ways.
- Clinical workflow support via AI. The deep neural networks of artificial intelligence and machine learning can scan and augment the diagnostic information available to the physician, reducing errors and increasing time with the patient. According to renowned physician and author Dr. Eric Topol, Artificial Intelligence will give doctors back the gift of time. Artificial Intelligence can support smart note-taking.
- AIs can also improve processes in the back office by, for example, scanning and reviewing billing and coding to identify potential medical coding issues, streamline billing operations, and reduce errors and re-bills.
- Technology also supports remote treatment and monitoring. Telemedicine and wearables will allow better connection and follow-through.
The best technology will get out of the way for clinicians so that patients and providers can partner in diagnosis and treatment. Healthcare contractors can provide essential support to healthcare organizations to successfully implement technology that will improve processes. They bring insights into best practices and real-world experience successfully implementing technological improvements.
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