Business News Opinion

Why technology matters in outcome-based care

Paul Patarou, Head of Strategic Projects – Health and Social Care, Access Group

We’re at a pivotal point in care commissioning. The move from time-based exchanges to an outcome-based approach is a major shift for the sector.

It’s one that places less emphasis on the number of visits and time taken and more emphasis on being client centric, focusing on how care and support can improve the wellbeing of clients. From the service user’s perspective, receiving a budget per head means they have a say in how money for their care is spent.

The aim is to improve the overall care experience with the required integration, efficiency and collaboration. There’s a need to balance value for money too with delivering agreed outcomes and aligning incentives with the entire care pathway.

The impact on care providers

This change means care providers must review how they manage cash flow and their finances in general. If a provider gets 80% of the contract with 20% dependent on achieving the outcomes, the bottom line could be squeezed if the funds don’t materialise.

As all local authorities move to outcome-based commissioning, providers will need to review how they deliver care to achieve these outcomes but also remain profitable. This requires a different way of working – and a transition plan so that the right systems and processes are in place.

This will ensure that the delivery of services and management of outcomes is co-ordinated and structured. Part of outcome-based commissioning is continual improvement in overall quality of service whilst balancing costs at the same time.

How technology can help

Integrated software systems make it easier to plan, monitor and measure both client and performance data – and share that information with other healthcare providers and local authorities. It makes for better collaboration.

A care provider needs to report on progress and understand how close they are to meeting the agreed outcomes. If these aren’t being met, access to real-time data will help pinpoint the problem. Of course, it still requires action to fix the issue and unlock the additional funds but better to have that opportunity before it’s too late.

Having a single system to manage all care provision means a provider is more likely to meet their contractual obligations – and deliver safe care services that are specific to each person’s needs and goals. It’s important to make sure that carers and the wider team aren’t weighed down by documenting and searching for information. Technology avoids duplication and wasted time and effort, one of the key points of outcome-based commissioning.

Positioned for success

Whilst it’s a huge change, it’s also an opportunity to innovate. Integration, better management of the cost base and more efficient processes will help the business run better – and ultimately help to achieve the desired outcomes and client happiness.

Business intelligence is another important element in this too. It’s possible to capture and evidence outcomes in a timely fashion, making it easier to demonstrate results and report to the relevant authorities.

In fact, working in partnership with local authorities and healthcare professionals can help to align goals and ensure that each is accountable for their part in the process.

New business models are another possibility that allow for a smarter approach too. From joint ventures to fully-integrated care from a single entity, technology can help to underpin the complexity and structure required for alternative ways of operating to work smoothly.

There’s no denying that moving to outcome-based commissioning is a tough transition. It’s about delivering the right care at the right time, maintaining high-quality standards, encouraging engagement and collaboration – and doing all of this whilst running a profitable business. That said, outcome-based commissioning could work with the right support from Government and authorities so that everyone shares the risks and the rewards.

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