Posted by: AllinHIT
All Things HIT, Beneficiary management, Care coordination, Medicaid, Medicare, No tech solutions, Population health
As a health IT professional, I am often talking, writing, or giving speeches on the role of HIT in lowering overall cost of health care. Wellness programs, chronic disease management, EHRs, HIEs, and the quality versus fee-for-service (FFS) focus I think will ultimately improve care! However, when it comes to population health, HIT plays a smaller role compared to some “no tech” solutions, and I was reminded that providing better health care and reducing costs isn’t just about managing workflows, CPOE, and chronic disease care.
I hear all of my EHR technologist friends asking, “How can ‘no tech’ solutions possibly be more important than high tech solutions?” Well, as you can probably guess, it has to do with providing access to health programs and health care. I was recently reminded about the basic needs for two large population groups: Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries! I’m not just talking about adhering to office visits or providing access to a community clinic. I’m talking about other necessary, preceding steps that most of us don’t even think about. Simply providing access to healthy fruits and vegetables leads to better population health, and hence reduces population health care costs with the ultimate “no tech solution”!
This need has not been ignored by some. The AARP, in partnership with UnitedHealthcare’s “Do Good. Live Well” initiative has provided food to seniors in need during this holiday period. The Aetna foundation recently awarded two grants totaling $381,000 to several food assistance programs; one for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, and the other for Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). The grants will monitor the effectiveness of programs that help low-income families buy more fresh produce and other healthful foods. Fresher, healthier foods lower the risk of obesity and other related diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease.
Happy holidays to my friends who are helping me see the tree’s beyond health IT forest, reminding me that there is a huge “no tech” role in our battle to improve outcomes and reduce costs. I’m reminded of Dr. Amani in Atlanta, phoning patients each Wednesday, discussing their new prescriptions. She increased compliance and had better outcomes, all without adopting an EHR. Yes, “no tech” solutions, such as having access to healthy food and a well-balanced diet, are the cheapest, simplest solutions, and yet are the most complex to provide. I guess it’s much easier for society to adopt technology, implement quality measures, provide telehealth/remote monitoring rather than implement wellness programs after the fact. With that said, it’s back to All Things HIT in 2012. Happy Holidays!