Digitalisation – the supercatalyst for value-based healthcare

What is value-based healthcare?

Value-based healthcare is one of the hot topics when it comes to how healthcare systems will be managed in the future. In the context of healthcare, “value-based” refers to managing and measuring not only the volume or costs of services provided but measuring actual results of care – and in a holistic way, both from the perspective of the patient and the clinical outcomes. Put simply, in the world of value-based healthcare, good care is care that generates as much positive effects with as low costs as possible.

Value-based healthcare includes significant opportunities for the future, as increasing costs and ageing populations are putting pressure on healthcare organisers worldwide to find more effective ways to operate the system. Value-based healthcare is the way to guarantee better care with limited resources to everyone – and to transform healthcare towards a patient-centered system where patients’ needs, preferences, and experiences are at the heart of the operating model.

Digitalisation as the enabler of value-based healthcare

Digitalisation is one of the key enablers of value-based healthcare, as collecting and analysing data is in the core of managing any value-based system. In general, what has been hindering the implementation of value-based healthcare systems, has been the lack of structured data of patient outcomes and the cost of care, and especially the challenge of connecting these two: how costs are related to the generated health outcomes.

The solutions digitalisation brings about can help adoption of value-based thinking. Novel digital technologies, such as digital communication and collaboration tools as well as powerful data analytics, will enable measuring the patient outcome and experience, and generate relevant insights from the data to guide care of a patient. As a result, understanding the patient becomes effortless and inseparable part of the chains of care. What is more, with digital tools, such as digital health applications, the interventions will be not only value-based, but also hyper-personalised and conducted at the right time and in the relevant channel, resulting in deeper engagement of the patient.

Examples of implementations in Finland

A recent Finnish implementation gives a good example how digital tools can help adoption of value-based healthcare. Central Finland Health Care District implemented (in a first for Finland) Philips VitalHealth’s Questlink, a tool specialised in patient self-reporting of their symptoms and ability to function. In co-operation with Nordic Healthcare Group (NHG), a pilot project has been launched in March, taking the assessment of treatment effectiveness towards a new value-based operational model, in which patient experience of the outcomes are heard as part of the treatment and linked to other outcome measures and costs. In the future, information collected on the patients’ state of health and ability to function do not only help to develop better care, but also to steer and manage the whole coronary artery disease chain of care. (Read more on Central Finland Hospital District’s pilot project: https://nhg.fi/en/2019/05/16/making-patients-own-experience-of-treatment-results-visible-in-central-finland-health-care-district/)

Another example of digitalization and value-based healthcare going hand in hand is Noona, a mobile service that helps guide breast cancer patients through recovery. The service is developed by Noona Healthcare Solutions, which is a spinoff company of Kaufmann (part of Nordic Healthcare Group). For patient, Noona offers information and enables the patient to be more active in her own recovery. The patient tracks her progress via the service and Noona enables ongoing contact with the clinic, with a smart system that triggers actions for key symptoms and side effects. For clinical staff Noona makes it possible for small teams to efficiently handle a large volume of patients. Noona enables clinics to securely receive structured patient messages, such as symptom reports, and process them in work queues prioritized according to the current clinical state of the patient. Clinical staff can respond to patients with application-managed follow up processes, self-care instructions, invitations to the clinic, and custom messages.

Future of value-based healthcare in Finland

In September 2018, Nordic Healthcare Group conducted a survey on the use of outcome metrics in specialist healthcare in Finland. The survey showed that patient-reported metrics are only rarely used in specialist healthcare for now, but the majority of respondents (71 %) wanted to increase the use of patient-reported metrics in healthcare, and 23 % of the respondents planned on implementing patient-reported metrics of the patients’ state of health, ability to function, and patient experience within the next two years. This result indicates that understanding how digital tools can enable value-based healthcare will be crucial in the future.

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The blog post is written by Heini Hyttinen, who works as a digitalisation consultant at Nordic Healthcare Group (NHG) which is a Finnish healthcare advisory and analytics company founded in 2004.

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