Cloud financial technologies: How the healthcare industry is providing better care and lowering costs
Players in the US healthcare industry — both public and private — have been busy adopting new digital technologies to improve patient care and reduce costs. In particular, organizations have been focusing on cloud financial technologies powered by big data analytics.
Since the Department of Health and Human Services passed the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act in 2009, the vast majority of organizations have been adopting new electronic health records (EHR) technologies. However, these same organizations are just getting cloud financial and related operational processes and technologies in place to begin with.
While making the shift is a significant challenge, the need for better financial management in the industry is critical, considering that, according to MapR, healthcare spending in the US has outpaced the GDP for decades, exceeding the spending of any other developed nation in the world.
The cloud in healthcare
With the proliferation of data today, healthcare organizations, like many others, are finding it difficult to manage and make use of that data and are thus turning to the cloud. Besides strict HIPAA regulations and other federal policies that mandate the adoption of EHR systems, however, there are several other key drivers for cloud adoption in healthcare.
First, consumerization is forcing organizations to deliver better healthcare to patients while simultaneously lowering costs. Take, for instance, the rise of high-deductible health plans with health savings accounts. Increasingly, patients pay more for services while demanding better quality and being more selective about the services for which they are willing to pay.
In addition, the industry is shifting from a fee-for-service model to a value-based reimbursement one. In other words, providers are increasingly being compensated for the quality of service, based on patient feedback and ratings, rather than for the quantity of procedures performed. Enter bundled payment arrangements, which are designed to pay multiple providers for coordinated services that relate to a single episode of care based upon the quality of the services provided. To make this work, multiple organizations must be able to track and manage patient data in a more holistic manner by integrating previously siloed EHR and billing systems into a single, cloud-based repository.
Finally, digital technologies create a massive amount of data, much of it unstructured. In order to improve patient care and lower costs, organizations are using data analytics and electronic document interchange (EDI) platforms from multiple sources, including insurance claims processing and EHR systems to improve overall efficiency and ultimately lower costs.
Thanks to innovations such as healthcare cloud and big data analytics technologies, as well as emerging alternate payment methods, the industry is making significant strides to lower costs for patients.