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Accenture study explores the future of integrated healthcare delivery.
Nations around the globe are taking significant strides to adopt healthcare IT as a path toward a connected health future The goals are clear—higher quality, more accessible and cost-effective healthcare—but the path is as intricate and diverse as the countries themselves. A comprehensive Accenture report, Connected Health: The Drive to Integrated Healthcare Delivery, takes an in-depth look at the progress toward connected health in eight countries. The study cites the important dynamics, challenges and lessons guiding each country along its unique journey to more integrated healthcare delivery.
Accenture’s Connected Health study combines deep research—interviews with more than 160 healthcare leaders, a survey among more than 3,700 doctors and clinicians, case studies, literature reviews and more—to provide a broad analysis of how health systems can accelerate progress and gain tangible benefits from their connected health initiatives.
Accenture’s research shows that these countries all have a vision for connected health—though each is unique—and highlights the similarities and differences in their responses to the growing health crisis. To improve quality and access while trying to control costs, they are all moving, to some degree, toward integrated healthcare.
The world faces unprecedented healthcare challenges―steadily rising costs and heightened budget pressures, aging populations, rising chronic disease rates and growing expectations for more affordable and higher-quality care. And it gets even more complex: people are living longer—by some estimates, 50 percent of people born today will live to 100—and chronic obesity rates are increasing. Both directly contribute to rising healthcare costs.
These challenges highlight the need for a complete healthcare transformation—a transition to systems that are integrated across the entire continuum of care and can offer a more sustainable healthcare model in the 21st century and beyond. Integrated healthcare delivery relies on a key lever—connected health.
Connected health involves systematically applying healthcare IT to facilitate the accessing and sharing of information, and to enable the subsequent analysis of health data across systems. But connected health extends beyond simply managing and analyzing patients’ clinical data. It encourages communication and collaboration among all stakeholders to get to integrated care—and better health outcomes—at lower costs.
The Accenture study yields clear evidence of the benefits of integrated healthcare and the system-wide exchange of data. It shows that connected health facilitates better care coordination, improved disease management, fewer clinical errors, and new opportunities to save administrative and clinical costs.
A connected health approach offers three levels of value creation:
Taking the first steps on a connected health journey requires careful assessment, planning and preparation. Those that have started down the path provide valuable lessons. In its study, Accenture identified six key dynamics that systems and organizations must employ to lay a solid foundation for connected health:
Vision and leadership focused on improved health outcomes
Health providers, governments and other key players must be clear on the objectives and benefits of the “end state” before building the healthcare IT infrastructure that empowers connected health.
Strategic change management
Developing connected health means carefully orchestrating change across the organization that aligns directly to a mission and a vision.
Robust technology infrastructure
Connected health must be built on a healthcare IT infrastructure compatible with organizational vision and objectives, and governed with clear standards of health information interoperability and exchange.
Organizations aligned to strike the right balance between strong leadership and vision from the top, and room for bottom-up experimentation and innovation.
Clinical change management
With a strong framework of clinical governance, peer review and performance management across the system, sophisticated analytics can identify needs for change and drive business intelligence and provide statistical evidence to help reshape clinical decision-making and healthcare protocols.
Integration drives integration
Connected health fosters a virtuous cycle of clinical and business process integration, which in turn puts new demands on new technologies. This requires organizations to put in place project management processes that orchestrate the five dynamics listed above, and to continually reassess their role, what services they provide and the need to develop, extend and connect those services.
January 30, 2012
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