More than 150 healthcare leaders from across Massachusetts attended the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) of Massachusetts spring conference,“Disruptive Innovation: Creating the Healthcare Systems of the Future,” held recently at the DoubleTree Hilton in Westborough, Mass.
Healthcare organizations that traditionally succeeded with a fee-for-service model must now provide greater value in order to survive. Forward-looking organizations, industries and technologies are disrupting the status quo in delivery of care and reimbursement in dramatic ways. The future patient will be connected, informed and empowered, and an active part of his or her own caregiving team.
The conference’s featured speakers shared their experiences in successfully navigating this maze of new technologies and processes while leading the way into the new paradigm. Joseph Kvedar, MD, founder and director of the Center for Connected Health at Partners HealthCare, discussed his organization’s efforts to integrate health into the day-to-day lives of its patients.
According to Dr. Kvedar, technological advances have enabled Partners HealthCare providers to conduct nearly 10,000 consultations remotely, with benefits including improved engagement, outcomes and efficiencies. In one scenario, patients submit their blood pressure, blood glucose, step counts or weight readings to a secure website. In turn, providers access this data and manage patients’ care through customized and automated e-mails, text messages and alerts reminding them to take their medication, increase their physical activity and perform other tasks that will improve their health.
The results to date are compelling. Heart failure monitoring resulted in a 50 percent decrease in hospital readmissions. After diabetes and blood pressure monitoring, the HbA1c lab test showing the average level of blood sugar over the previous three months fell by 1.5, while 69 percent of patients achieved a drop in blood pressure, respectively. In fact, the amount of practice engagement strongly correlated with better patient outcomes.
In rural areas worldwide, Partners HealthCare physicians have “seen” more than 2,000 patients via a weekly virtual clinic, which currently has a three-month waiting list. Education opportunities via videoconferencing include live surgeries, grand rounds and clinical training with real-time interactivity for attendees.
Dr. Kvedar said connected health allows physicians to take care of more patients, while lowering the overall cost of care.
“Within the backdrop of reduced reimbursements and bundled care, we have an economic model in which connected health makes sense,” said Dr. Kvedar. “These tools provide a paradoxically higher touch experience that makes patients feel safer and more cared for. These messages keep the patient engaged and out of the hospital, which is the goal for all of us.”
Neal Lindeman, MD, an associate pathology professor at Harvard Medical School and director of molecular diagnostics at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, discussed the impact and challenges of genomic medicine on cancer care. For example, genetic results are already influencing clinical decisions, such as targeted therapies to reverse the effects of some known gene mutations in cancer.
With the availability of targeted therapies increasing, providing tumor genotyping for all patients will aid providers in identifying those who may benefit from approved targeted therapies. Dr. Lindeman, who is also co-director of PROFILE at the Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center, said plans this summer include the implementation of next-generation sequencing.
“Cancer is a devastating, emotionally charged diagnosis. Patients want to know which tests can be done,” said Dr. Lindeman, noting the availability of research tests, clinical tests and cancer research studies at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute which are all investigating new treatments for cancers and leukemias. “The moral for healthcare organizations is if you don’t want to be a dinosaur, you have to keep changing.”
Paul Nunes, global managing director of research at Accenture Institute for High Performance, said healthcare is just one of numerous industries to experience “big bang” disruptions to the status quo. Some of these advances in telecommunications, precision diagnostics and information management tools include telehealth and e-visits, wellness programs, retail and worksite clinics, mobile care services and automated kiosks.
To remain relevant, he said, healthcare organizations must act quickly to acquire the game-changing advancements or incubate a competing business model.
“Make sure future strategies are built on a platform that can easily be extended and experimented with, and quickly scaled both up and down,” Nunes said. “The profitable life of a big-bang disrupter may be short, and you’ll need to be ready with the next one before someone beats you to it.”
The conference also featured a panel discussion moderated by Carolyn Jacoby Gabbay, a partner with Nixon Peabody LLP. In addition to the featured speakers, the panelists were Jeanette Clough, president and chief executive officer of Mount Auburn Hospital, and John Halamka, MD, chief information officer of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
About ACHE of Massachusetts
Founded in 1968, ACHE of Massachusetts (MassACHE.org) is a professional association providing executive-level managers of healthcare institutions with opportunities for professional collegiality and continuing education. ACHE of Massachusetts is an independent chapter of the American College of Healthcare Executives and is the premier association in New England for healthcare executives. In 2012, the affiliate was honored with the ACHE Chapter Merit Award in recognition of its membership growth.