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Making the case for connected health

Accenture study explores the future of integrated healthcare delivery.

Overview

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.

Background

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.

Analysis

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:

  • Clinical efficacy—Including reducing administrative activities and costs, eliminating duplicate lab and radiology tests; improving patient safety through 24/7 access to comprehensive, legible medical records; and speeding up access to patient medical histories and vital information.

  • Shared knowledge—Including reducing medical errors and improving care quality, benefitting in drug interaction alerts, sophisticated tools to enhance clinical decision-making through evidence-based care protocols, and innovations and new capabilities in population care.

  • Care transformation—Including advanced analytics to inform clinical decision making, population health management and new care delivery models.

RECOMMENDATIONS

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:

  1. 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.

  2. Strategic change management
    Developing connected health means carefully orchestrating change across the organization that aligns directly to a mission and a vision.

  3. 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.

  1. Co-evolution
    Organizations aligned to strike the right balance between strong leadership and vision from the top, and room for bottom-up experimentation and innovation.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

Connected Health Around the Globe

Explore highlights from Connected Health: The Drive to Integrated Healthcare Delivery through a graphical journey.

Healthcare leaders around the world are looking for new ways to improve the quality of healthcare delivery and expand access to vital services for increasingly diverse and demanding populations. At the same time, they are trying to get a grip on the rising costs of healthcare. This series of infographics highlights the significant findings of Accenture’s year-long connected health research study and shows that while progress is being made along the connected health journey, there is still much work to be done to deliver high quality, accessible and affordable healthcare to people around the globe.

Making the Case for Connected Health Making the Case for Connected Health

The value of connected health is optimized through the coordinated efforts of many stakeholders. While all stakeholders benefit, it is useful to view the specific advantages from the different perspectives of the clinician, the organization/system, the patient, the insurer or payer and the wider population or society as a whole.

Progress Toward Connected Health Progress Toward Connected Health

Accenture focused specifically on the development of connected health in eight countries: Australia, Canada, England, France, Germany, Singapore, Spain and the United States. We chose these countries because they all face similar challenges around how to improve quality, secure access and control cost.

Overcoming the Challenges Overcoming the Challenges

While Accenture’s research shows that all the countries in the study are proceeding on the journey to connected health, significant barriers and challenges continue to hinder progress.

The Dynamics of Successful Connected Health The Dynamics of Successful Connected Health

Six key dynamics characterize those systems and organizations that are successfully progressing on the journey to connected health by creating the new relationships and practices that will ensure healthcare IT interoperability and help drive better, more integrated healthcare delivery for citizens.

Balancing the Six Dynamics Balancing the Six Dynamics

The broadest and deepest progress to connected health relies on both the actions of leaders and agencies that set national healthcare policies and the efforts and initiatives of the organizations that deliver health services at whatever level they operate. Striking the perfect balance of the six dynamics and implementing in manageable ‘chunks’ will help organizations progress on their conntected health journeys.

The Future of Connected Health The Future of Connected Health

There is no single route to traverse the progressive stages of healthcare IT adoption, health information exchange and care transformation, as our studies in the eight countries and beyond have demonstrated.

Doctors' Perceptions of Connected Health

Doctors in Eight Countries Weigh in on the Perceived Benefits and Challenges of Healthcare IT

The ambition of connected health is to connect all parts of a healthcare delivery system, seamlessly, through interoperable health information processes and technologies so that critical health information is available when and where it is needed. Understanding the connected health journey’s measures of adoption and utilization of healthcare IT functions is one step to help organizations understand how to truly transform healthcare with improved quality and increased access at a lower cost.

Through these infographics learn key information and statistics about how eight countries are faring on their connected health journeys.

The Drive to Integrated Healthcare Delivery Connected Health: The Drive to Integrated Healthcare Delivery

Explore how doctors perceive the benefits of healthcare IT and whether age does matter in the decision to use technology.

Key Connected Health Findings in Germany, Singapore, Spain, and the US

Key Connected Health Findings in Germany, Singapore, Spain, and the US

From Accenture research, learn which doctors are believers in healthcare IT and which are skeptics in these four countries’

Key Connected Health Findings in Australia, Canada, England, and France

Key Connected Health Findings in Australia, Canada, England, and France

Find out how the majority of doctors in these four countries view the benefits of connected health and what the leading outcomes are from using healthcare IT tools.