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2023: A Year of Transformation in Healthcare

Joseph Ebberwein, Co-founder and CFO of Corstrata




INTRODUCTION 

As we enter 2024, the healthcare landscape is at a pivotal point. In 2023, we witnessed transformative changes primarily driven by technological advancements, policy shifts, and evolving patient expectations. This post aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the key events of 2023. Stay tuned for a follow-up post offering some predictions for 2024, focusing on how these developments will impact wound and ostomy care and Corstrata's unique role in this dynamic ecosystem.


2023: A YEAR OF TRANSFORMATION IN HEALTHCARE

Telehealth: The New Norm

The COVID-19 pandemic necessitated a rapid shift to telehealth, transforming it from a niche offering to a mainstream healthcare delivery method. By 2023, telehealth was fully integrated into the operations of health systems and private practices. This shift brought forth a "digital front door," allowing patients seamless access to healthcare services via phone, video chat, or messaging, significantly enhancing patient convenience and access (1). 


Telehealth has fundamentally changed how healthcare is delivered and received. Patients can now conveniently access care from the comfort of their homes, avoiding lengthy commutes, crowded waiting rooms, and time away from work. Providers have gained flexibility in caring for patients remotely while still maintaining high-quality standards. The healthcare delivery system as a whole has become more efficient by reducing unnecessary visits and enabling providers to see more patients in less time (2).


Some key telehealth statistics from 2023 highlight its explosive growth (3):

  • 93% of large healthcare systems offered virtual visits, up from 59% in 2019

  • 35% of all Medicare primary care visits were conducted via telehealth 

  • 76% of consumers are interested in using telehealth going forward


From video visits to remote patient monitoring to text-based care, telehealth is here to stay and will continue transforming healthcare into 2024 and beyond. Patients and providers have seen its undeniable benefits, and payers are increasingly providing coverage for virtual care services (4). Healthcare organizations that don't offer robust telehealth solutions run the risk of falling behind.


The Rise of Value-Based Care

The healthcare industry saw a gradual departure from the fee-for-service model, moving towards value-based care. This shift, driven by the need to focus on quality over quantity, saw healthcare providers being reimbursed based on patient outcomes rather than the volume of services provided. This approach promotes preventive care and patient education, aiming to improve overall health outcomes while controlling costs (5). 


The transition to value-based care aims to address pressing issues in the healthcare system, including unsustainably high costs, fragmented care delivery, and suboptimal clinical outcomes (6). The fee-for-service model incentivizes providers to deliver more treatments and services, regardless of necessity, which drives up costs without necessarily improving health (6). Value-based care realigns incentives towards value and quality outcomes.


Some models of value-based care include (7):

  • Accountable Care Organizations: Groups of providers collectively accountable for cost and quality of patient care 

  • Bundled Payments: Single payment for all services involved in an episode of care

  • Pay for Performance: Linking provider reimbursement to achieving specific metrics

  • Patient-Centered Medical Homes: Team-based primary care focused on whole-person needs


This paradigm shift requires major changes for providers, including modifying EHRs, analytics capabilities, workflows, and physician compensation structures (8). The transition will take considerable time and effort. However, value-based care stands to benefit all stakeholders by emphasizing prevention, care coordination, patient empowerment, and smarter spending.


Prioritizing the Patient Experience

2023 also saw healthcare providers borrowing strategies from consumer-centric industries to enhance patient experiences. This transformation involved adopting digital tools for appointment scheduling, virtual waiting rooms, user-friendly patient portals, and regular satisfaction surveys, all aimed at creating a more patient-centric healthcare environment (9).


Patients today increasingly view themselves as empowered consumers and seek healthcare experiences that mirror other services they use (10). Younger generations in particular have elevated expectations shaped by industries that offer seamless digital interactions, personalization, and convenience. Patients now demand those same qualities in healthcare.


To meet these expectations, leading healthcare organizations are taking cues from retail, hospitality, and financial services to transform patient experiences. Key strategies include (11):

  • Online self-scheduling of appointments, prescription refills, and bill pay

  • Virtual waiting rooms with text updates on delays

  • Bedside tablet computers for entertainment, questions, and education 

  • Post-discharge follow-ups to address any issues

  • Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys to monitor patient satisfaction

  • Care custom-tailored to individual clinical and personal needs  


By implementing these best practices, providers can gain patient trust and loyalty while also achieving better outcomes, fewer readmissions, and higher reimbursements through value-based contracts (12). Focusing on customer service and patient-centricity is becoming imperative in healthcare's increasingly competitive landscape.


AI and ML in Healthcare

The integration of AI and machine learning in healthcare witnessed a significant upsurge in 2023. These technologies found widespread applications in various aspects of healthcare, including clinical decision support, population health management, and operational efficiencies (13).


Healthcare stands to benefit enormously from AI and ML capabilities in analyzing data, recognizing patterns, and predicting future trends. Some examples of AI adoption in 2023 include (14):

  • AI algorithms capable of diagnosing diabetic retinopathy, pneumonia, and stroke with over 90% accuracy

  • ML models identifying patients at risk of opioid addiction before prescriptions are written

  • Chatbots providing personalized education and treatment reminders to patients

  • Voice recognition software drastically reducing clinical documentation time  

  • AI simulation platforms for surgical training and preoperative planning

  • Algorithms optimizing emergency department workflows, inventory management, and scheduling 


AI and ML will revolutionize nearly every facet of healthcare delivery. However, these technologies do face barriers to effective implementation, including lack of trust from clinicians, difficulty integrating into legacy health IT systems, and concerns around data privacy and algorithmic bias (15). Healthcare leaders must proactively address these challenges as they continue deploying AI solutions. With careful governance and planning, AI and ML can elevate healthcare to unprecedented levels of efficiency, personalization, and quality.


References:

  1. Telehealth Resource Center. (2023). Telehealth integration in healthcare systems.

  2. mHealth Intelligence. (2023). How COVID-19 drove telehealth growth. 

  3. McKinsey & Company. (2023). Telehealth: A quarter-trillion-dollar post-COVID-19 reality?

  4. National Institutes of Health. (2023). Telehealth: Mapping the evidence for patient outcomes from systematic reviews

  5. American Hospital Association. (2023). Trends in value-based care.

  6. NEJM Catalyst. (2021). What Is Value-Based Healthcare?

  7. Health Affairs. (2022). Value-Based Care Models: Year In Review

  8. MGMA. (2022). Value-based Care Demands Robust Data Sharing and Analytics 

  9. National Institute of Health. (2023). Enhancing patient experience in healthcare.

  10. Deloitte. (2021). The future of virtual health: Executive summary

  11. The Beryl Institute. (2020). Defining The Patient Experience

  12. NEJM Catalyst. (2018). Patient Satisfaction and Patient Experience — Two Sides of the Same Coin

  13. IEEE Journal of Biomedical and Health Informatics. (2023). Artificial intelligence and machine learning in healthcare. 

  14. Accenture. (2021). Healthcare A.I. is here now: Accelerating outcomes, exceeding expectations

  15. Harvard Business Review. (2022). To Make AI Work for Health Care, Obstacles Like Trust Need to Be Overcome

CORSTRATA was founded as a solution to provide access to scarce wound and ostomy specialists. We provide services to a range of healthcare providers - hospital at home, home health, hospice, skilled nursing facilities, mobile clinicians, value-based care organizations, etc. Our staff of board-certified wound nurses (CWS, WOC Nurses) provides virtual wound consultations employing evidence-based wound practice to all 50 states, DC, and Puerto Rico.

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