HealthAugust 08, 2022

To reduce healthcare costs and improve quality put the right tools in the right hands

Improving healthcare quality and reducing costs are not mutually exclusive.

That’s the proposition at the heart of value-based care: that healthcare organizations can reduce spending and enhance care without sacrificing either.

And yet, checking both boxes remains a challenge for many healthcare organizations. In the US, one reason is the prevailing reimbursement structure. While transitioning towards value-based care, the way we pay for — and deliver — healthcare is still largely based on fee-for-service, which focuses on volume over value.

So how can organizations meet the challenge of balancing care and cost? By giving clinicians the tools and data to do their jobs efficiently. Wisely deployed clinical decision support tools can help enhance productivity, improve outcomes and lower costs.

Providing prompt access to new clinical information is a challenge

Too often, clinicians lack access to vital data. Sometimes, the issue is a lack of interoperability across data sources. Other times, it’s the lag between discoveries at the bench and treatments at the bedside. Important research findings and newly released clinical guidelines often don’t make it to the point of care in a timely manner. These inefficiencies drive up costs and may put patients at risk.

When data or the latest evidence-based information and research isn’t centrally available, clinicians may be forced to make decisions without all the necessary information. Vital patient data may not be added to the EHR, or EHR data may not be fully integrated with decision support tools. This makes the tools less effective and — understandably — may make clinicians less inclined to use them.

Physicians need complete, up-to-the-minute patient data and actionable, evidence-based guidance from the latest sources to make informed decisions efficiently. They also need access to medical information that’s as comprehensive and current as possible.

Relevant data must be accessible across the care team and the entire health system. Everyone needs to work from the same, single source of clinical guidance that’s updated as new evidence emerges.

Clinical decision support tools help reduce medication errors

A 2018 study estimates that more than 275,000 avoidable patient deaths occur each year in the US because of non-optimized medication use, including under- and over-prescribing. The financial cost of this issue tops $528 billion annually.

Clinical decision support tools at the point of care can reduce prescribing errors. For example, access to evidence-based drug-treatment information can improve formulary management and patient adherence.

But medication management isn’t only about avoiding errors. It’s also about ensuring each patient receives recommendations specific to their situation, and that the ways of calculating those recommendations are standardized across the health system. Better medication management means each patient receives a safe, appropriate medication at the right dosage.

Meet clinical variation with standardization

Increased variation in care is associated with worse outcomes, steeper costs and greater care disparities. By one estimate, unwanted variation accounts for at least 25% of all healthcare costs.

Hospitals should equip clinicians and administrators with tools that offer consolidated, relevant clinical information and help identify variation in care.

For example, accurate, real-time identification of patients with sepsis, coupled with evidence-based clinical guidance, goes a long way toward standardizing care. Timely alerts — and fewer false alarms — ensure all sepsis patients receive care that complies with the sepsis bundle.

Reduce the cost of care and improve healthcare quality: Learn more

Wolters Kluwer helps organizations reduce costs, improve quality and provide the best possible care for all patients. Frost & Sullivan recently honored Wolters Kluwer for its portfolio of clinical decision support solutions, naming it North American Company of the Year for clinical decision support.

Learn more about how your organization can reduce healthcare costs and improve patient outcomes.

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