Thursday, May 19, 2016

Using Technological Advancements to Improve Health Care Delivery

By Rene Macapinlac

Through the years, technology has played a vital role in improving the delivery of health. During day one of the Medicaid Managed Care Congress, the subject of technology often came up in discussing efforts to move beyond Medicaid and provide higher quality care.

Telecommunication technology or telehealth has become one of the main tools for health plans and providers to improve care and outcomes. Video conferencing is being used by patients and doctors for real-time consultations and discussions. Electronic devices available for transmitting patient health information to doctors and other health care providers. Pre-recorded videos and digital images of x-rays can now be electronically transmitted between primary care providers and specialists.

Mobile applications are increasingly being used for health services, information and education.

Underserved populations can be reached through targeted text messages to promote healthy practices, and through public alerts to inform them about disease outbreaks.

Technology has also played a vital role in data-gathering and building metrics to better measure patient outcomes and member engagement. It is a key component in the development of state-led payment and service delivery innovations.

Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH), the model of care for transforming the delivery of comprehensive primary care is leaning on technology -- email, video chat and mobile apps -- to help patients stay on top of their health and get health care when they need it.

The Children’s Community Health Plan uses claims-based technology to detect women at risk for delivering a child with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). The number of cases of infants with NAS has increased with the rise in substance use disorder. Once algorithms identify at-risk women, they are provided with educational materials and their care providers are notified.

When it comes to diabetes management, Cigna-HealthSpring is using cellular technology (along with nurse visits) to help its members with uncontrolled diabetes. They give these members information on self-management and monitoring.

These are just some of the ways technology is changing the Medicaid managed care industry. Although implementation comes with issues and challenges to be hurdled, there is no question that all of these technological advancements have been improving outcomes and mitigating rising health care costs.

Technological innovations support the provisions of the Affordable Care Act by providing educational materials and opportunities for patients to care for themselves better. Furthermore they provide opportunities for doctors and other providers to intervene with a patient early on when the health condition is still easily treatable.

Rene Macapinlac is the Director of Operations at ManagedCareBiz, an online resource for managed care professionals who need to stay up-to-date on industry news, analysis and commentary.

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