Improving Care for Patients Requires Better Care Coordination
A relatively small percentage of cases make up the bulk of expenses in healthcare--and that is true among all payor sources. There is much that can be done to mitigate avoidable readmissions, take care of patients more proactively in their homes, and lower the total overall cost of care. Here is a compelling story as backdrop for the conversation.
This Wall Street Journal article The Crushing Cost of Care illustrates this point dramatically. Using the case of Scott Crawford, who, in 2009, consumed $2.7M in Medicare funded services until he died at the age of 41, author Janet Adamy tells the tragic story of one of Medicare's most expensive beneficiaries in that year. Crawford was only in his 20's when he became sick, qualified for Medicare coverage through the disability, and ultimately received a transplanted heart at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore.
"We're always going to have patients in the Medicare program that need a disproportionate number of resources," said Jonathan Blum, deputy administrator and director for Medicare. Blum observed about Crawford's case, "A lot of the costs were driven by complications that could have been avoided," and cited an infection that Mr. Crawford aquired as an example.
I am deliberately ignoring any ethical discussion about Mr. Crawford's casefor a number of reasons, including:
1. I am a proponent of organ donation. My own wife's life was extended significantly by a liver transplantation made possible by the generosity of the donor and his surviving family.
2. Mr. Crawford's case is simply an illustration for a disussion about how we care for the sickest and costliest of patients -- and how we can improve both the outcomes and the cost at which we deliver that care.
3. As the leader of a software company that develops technology that helps providers coordinate better care, I am focused on dramtically improving healthcare delivery models.
Mr. Crawford's case is extreme, but is a good catalyst for discussion. There are millions more patients consuming healthcare services that are poorly organized and delivered. Whether it is a patient's failure to manage his own medications or chronic condition that results in an emergency room visit, or better coordinated therapy plan following knee replacement surgery that would rehabiliate the patient faster and stronger, it is clear that more can be done. What I find more interesting than the article itself is the interview with the author, Janet Adamy of the Wall Street Journal, which you can see in the video above. Maybe this is the real discussion and Mr. Crawford simply serves to make the lesson more personal.
Aknota's technology is used by providers of all types, including hospitals, ACOs and post acute care providers to better coordinate and deliver care upon discharge, and enable programs like Patient Centered Medical Home, Care Transitions Initiatives, and Community Based Care. To learn more about Ankota's technology click here