The Technology-Driven Care Management Fallacy

cartoon animation of a desktop computer, a tablet, and a smart phone
cartoon animation of a desktop computer, a tablet, and a smart phone

The Technology-Driven Care Management Fallacy

Delivering high-quality healthcare is incredibly challenging and equally inefficient. Introducing technology is a sensible approach to address the scale and scope of healthcare challenges. However, after pouring tens of billions of dollars into digitizing health records, which many expected would produce enormous benefits, the industry is experiencing a significant technology hangover as it searches for an elusive ROI on its IT investments.

One clear benefit of technology is to help identify at-risk patients among many thousands of patients and millions of data points. Once identified, providers can focus on clinical decision-making (i.e., work to the top of their license).  Yet these same patients need additional care management support to deliver on the plan of care including education, closing gaps, and logistical  support.  However, many health systems are ill-equipped for the staffing needs and new workflows required to react to the data and to conduct care management at scale—and beyond today’s frequent fliers.

Lost in the rush to use technology to modernize healthcare is how to utilize the most trusted relationship in healthcare—that between providers and patients. Technology is necessary but should support —not distract from—that personal relationship.   Providers and health systems need solutions and partners that understand the need to leverage the trusted relationship to deliver on the care management efforts that support the whole patient.

These solutions must include three key facets: 

1. Credibility

Clinical staff must have an intimate knowledge of the patient, their clinical history, and their unique needs. This only works when the additional outreach comes from nurses working hand-in-glove with the care team and connected to their technology system— truly becoming an extension of the practice. Models that rely heavily on a call center lack credibility with patients and don’t create a positive perception of the health system.  Call centers are separate from the care team, lack consistency and rely on non-clinical staff.  Furthermore, this approach has never succeeded in moving the needle on cost or quality. 

2. Compassion

Healthcare at its core is extremely personal, especially for chronically-ill patients. Effective chronic care management models don’t lend themselves to sterile, cookie cutter approaches. Patients in need, need someone to care. We firmly believe that care cannot be automated by an app, or a remote device or any other technology substitute. Humans will remain at the center of the care equation.

3. Technology

While care is and will remain personal, technology plays an important role in driving new levels of efficiency.  Technology allows your care management infrastructure to scale by making it easier to integrate chronic care management solutions into the workflow, automate the processes around the interaction and empower the clinical staff to engage with a far larger population of patients.  Staff have an enormous amount of information at their fingertips to facilitate and document each interaction and track and report afterwards. 

Providers and health systems need CCM partners that understand the need to combine the power of technology and people. This powerful combination can support your existing care team and integrate with your existing technology and at the same time facilitate long-term relationships that travel with patients on their unique journey. Working on the patient’s own timetable and connecting regularly throughout the year, remote nurses leverage the trusted relationship patients have with their providers to increase medication adherence, follow through on care plan goals, reduce missed appointments and close gaps in care. 

While provider and patient alignment is a natural dynamic in the face-to-face visit, taking this alignment beyond the four walls of the clinic requires establishing initial credibility as well as maintaining an ongoing compassionate relationship between the remote nurse and patient. That places a significant burden on successful and sustainable execution. The crucial component is a ruthlessly efficient design that enables the practice to remotely manage care without sacrifices to quality, without added costs and with much to gain. 

Technology alone won’t engage your high utilizers of today or tomorrow. Instead, health systems that combine integrated technology solutions with human interactions are the ones that will be the winners going forward.