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mHealth Adds Social Factors to the Value-Based Care Discussion

Aetna Foundation President Garth Graham, MD, says mHealth gives clinicians and their patients access to new and important data in the value-based ecosystem.

By Eric Wicklund

- The road to quality-based healthcare may be paved with clinical data, but it’s also decorated with social and cultural dynamics.

To Garth Graham, MD, MPH, president of the Aetna Foundation, today’s healthcare providers have access to more data than they’ve ever had before, thanks to mHealth tools and platforms. But they have to learn how to use it to produce not only individual clinical outcomes, but a sustainable population health model.

Graham, a former deputy assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, defines value-based care as “making the right decision for the right patient in the context of the patient’s population.” And he sees healthcare moving slowly but steadily in that direction.

He’ll be talking about that movement as the closing keynote speaker at Xtelligent Media’s Value-Based Care Summit, taking place November 15 in Boston.

Graham, whose work at the Aetna Foundation involves recognizing and supporting programs that “improve the health of people from underserved communities and increase their access to high-quality healthcare,” says mHealth and telehealth are valuable tools in this transition. Today’s providers not only have access to all sorts of information about their patients, but they have the means to extend their reach and their expertise outside the four walls of the office or hospital, touching patients and populations in their homes and elsewhere.

This means the clinician can be a driving force in helping the consumer take control of and understand his or her health and wellness. In other words, based on the information the clinician receives and the knowledge gained, the clinician can be s trusted resource for the consumer.

“They will work with the patient, not just for the patient,” he explains. mHealth “empowers not only the patient, but the doctor.”

Graham is also a big believer in patient engagement. Fitness bands, smartwatches, programs, even health plans tend to fade away over time because consumers lose interest in them or fail to find a compelling reason to keep using them. Healthcare providers need to find a way to maintain that interest over the long term, perhaps by using mHealth to keep them motivated.

As an example, Graham cites the New Jersey-based Camden Coalition, which uses mHealth platforms to help clinicians improve their relationship with so-called “high users” of healthcare, or people with multiple chronic conditions who often require healthcare and who chalk up the largest healthcare bills. By using mHealth, clinicians can learn more about why these patients require so much help, and they can work with these patients to better manage their health, reduce those health crises, improve outcomes and reduce expenses.

Graham says there are many examples of value-based healthcare, from telehealth platforms that give underserved communities quick access to clinicians and health resources to mHealth-based decision support tools that enable doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers to access information at any time and place.

With all that data at their fingertips, Graham says it’s important to tailor the healthcare infrastructure to best serve clinicians. That means using tools and platforms that don’t just give them data, but analyze it and give it relevance.

And that’s where social and cultural context comes into play.

The key to value-based healthcare, Graham says, lies not only in making more clinical information available to both patient and doctor, but extending that envelope to other sources of data – diet and activity, weather, even social, community and cultural factors.

This not only can help a specific patient at a specific time, but explain why a patient, social group or population develops certain healthcare trends. And by examining root causes, healthcare can move toward health management.

Graham says it’s important that providers understand they’re working with patients, and that they’re helping guide those patients to better outcomes.

“The real outcome only comes when the patient makes a decision outside the doctor’s office,” he says.

To learn more about how healthcare providers can leverage big data analytics strategies for a successful transition to the value-based care environment, sign up for a seat at the Value-Based Care Summit on November 15, 2016

Visit ValueBasedCareSummit.com today to register.

Dig Deeper:

Using Telehealth, mHealth to Advance Value-Based Care

Using mHealth to Vault the Barriers to Value-Based Care

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