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Home health takeaways to improve profit margins, drive volume, and increase patient satisfaction | Mike Buckholdt


Health systems can boost the performance of ambulatory surgical centers with advanced remote patient monitoring and postoperative telerehabilitation solutions.

Hospitals are likely to endure financial challenges for the rest of the year, according to the latest Kaufman Hall report. Even though COVID-19 cases are below the record highs earlier this year, hospitals and health systems are grappling with the pandemic’s long-lasting impact.

Health system leaders are seeking ways to safeguard their organizations’ futures. To bolster against financial instability, address staffing shortages, and meet increasing quality of care standards, hospitals must adopt digital strategies to reshape the way they deliver patient care.

Home is where the healthcare is.

While the hospital has always been at the center of healthcare, technology advances and the splintering of primary care over the last decade have created incremental shifts in the way patients expect to be treated.

Now, as in the retail industry, patients expect a cohesive end-to-end experience, greater visibility into options, pricing transparency, and a navigable portal interface.

Over the course of the pandemic, this change has accelerated, as the concept of “home” has shifted from the center of personal life, to the locus of all life. In recent consumer sentiment surveys, patients speak highly of the change: over 75% of patients are willing to receive in-home care. Providers share a similar outlook: 87% of orthopedic surgeons believe telerehabilitation is the future of postoperative recovery.

Early on in the pandemic, health systems adjusted their strategies to rapidly accommodate patient demand for telehealth services. Now, forward-thinking health executives must move beyond telehealth to embrace a broader home care ecosystem for long-term success.

Home health offers the potential to provide a much-needed overhaul for healthcare, from reshaping the provider-patient relationship, to boosting profit margins, increasing patient satisfaction, innovating recovery pathways, and driving higher quality outcomes to satisfy risk-based contracts or value-based care arrangements.

In fact, McKinsey & Company states that the concept of “Care at Home” holds such promise that the industry could realize $265 billion worth of care services this way.

Improve ASC performance with postoperative telerehabilitation.

To address today’s biggest threats to the well-being of the health system, including financial health and patient outcomes, systems must think beyond telehealth and move to adopt advanced remote patient monitoring (RPM) and postoperative telerehabilitation solutions.

Remote healthcare options promise new ways to increase patient volume, while introducing efficiencies that simultaneously achieve quality outcomes at a cost savings. Nations with single-payer health systems have long demonstrated the net-positive impact of providing healthcare at home, especially to improve outcomes and reduce costs.

As health systems shift sites of service to lower cost ambulatory settings, cost, quality, and patient satisfaction measures will become more important than ever before.

For long-term success, ambulatory surgical centers will have to standardize the post-discharge experience, offer greater levels of transparency into recovery and pricing, and build a long-lasting patient-provider relationship to reduce readmissions, ensure quality outcomes, and achieve patient satisfaction.

While surgeons have not historically had great visibility into patient progress following the procedure, healthcare at home can change this, finally unleashing the full promise of ASCs – the savings-efficiency-satisfaction trifecta – without compromising on quality.

Drive higher patient volumes with home health.

To address dwindling margins, health systems will have to strike a delicate balance between identifying efficiencies and increasing volume, while simultaneously reducing costs. Home health ecosystems are a necessary piece of the puzzle.

While it may seem counterintuitive, adopting a robust digital healthcare at home ecosystem can help drive higher patient volumes. Here’s how:

  1. Advertise elective surgeries at ASCs: Meet patient-consumer expectations by advertising your system’s same-day discharge. Healthy, stable patients in need of a routine procedure will self-select, attracted by speed, the ability to recover at home, and ongoing oversight from their trusted surgical team.
  2. Oversee recovery for quality and cost savings: Send patients home to recover with a smart telerehabilitation device. Along with support staff, your surgical team will be able to keep an eye on recovery metrics to follow the patient’s progression, provide education and support when needed, and ensure quality outcomes. Early interventions reduce the need for costly revisions.
  3. Greater efficiencies free up bandwidth for more care: With higher, healthier patient volumes coming in for same-day service and leaving with standardized, quality healthcare-at-home recovery protocols, your surgical team will be able to increase the number of surgeries performed daily. Greater patient satisfaction and word of mouth will contribute to patient volumes, and over time will help stabilize a health system’s bottom line.

As the healthcare landscape continues to evolve, systems will need to innovate in order to address thinning margins, create efficiencies that reduce staff burnout, and meet patient expectations.

Postoperative telerehabilitation devices are just one way to enable continuity of care from the point of discharge and through the recovery journey, to benefit patients, providers, and health systems alike.

Mike Buckholdt is the president of Kinex Medical.

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