Healthcare collaboration brings clinicians together to solve problems, make decisions, formulate patient care plans and then carry them out. In a world of aging patients and increasing chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease, such collaboration is critical to delivering quality patient care. At the same time, however, collaboration as a practice is being disrupted by healthcare delivery trends including hospital and health system consolidation and broad adoption of telehealth.
Mergers and Acquisitions Create Complex Environments for Information Sharing
Across the U.S., hospital and health system mergers and acquisitions are booming, creating giant healthcare systems that deliver patient care across states and across and across the country. One pending transaction between Dignity Health and Catholic Health Initiatives, for example, will create a system of 139 hospitals in 28 states.
The goal of this merger is to improve population health, a key element of succeeding in value-based care, and ultimately, value-based payment. Supporting value-based care requires collaboration and information sharing between providers, which becomes extremely complex in newly merged healthcare environments that span large geographic areas. Sharing patient data between departments in a single hospital is a challenge that multiplies when sharing patient data among multiple hospitals and clinics. In merged healthcare environments, collaborative care also loses its footing amidst these information sharing difficulties.
Telehealth Information Sharing Challenges
While hospital and health systems grow in size, they are also adopting telehealth. Today, 71% of both inpatient and outpatient care settings use telehealth to improve care access, increase efficiency and improve care coordination. In the face of increasing provider shortage, telehealth has become a critical tool for providing access to specialty care such as dermatology and neurology.
Telehealth, however, also has challenges when it comes to information sharing which disrupts collaboration between providers. Teleradiology, for example, gives referring providers faster access to radiology specialists, but while the radiologists are reading image studies they do not have access to other patient data to aid in their diagnosis. When reading a complex cardiac MRI, for example, access to EKG and lab values would aid in patient diagnosis. To deliver the best care possible when addressing such chronic diseases, providers need tools to share all patient data in real-time when they are geographically dispersed.
Virtual Collaboration Brings Benefits of Virtual Care to Provider Collaboration
Together these two trends of telehealth adoption and provider consolidation create a perfect foundation for solving the very information sharing problems they create. Using telehealth tools across all locations within a healthcare organization, it is possible for providers not only to share data but to do so in real time no matter where they are located. This virtual collaboration enables provider organizations to bring collaboration into the virtual world and to realize their goals of value-based care and population health management.
Learn more about virtual collaboration in today’s healthcare delivery environment. Download our whitepaper, "Virtual Collaboration: The Foundation of Virtual Patient Care".