The world is in urgent need of digital health transformation in community care. That’s because the majority of people in the world seek care in their communities which offer a range of care choices outside of the hospital.
Despite the many benefits of community care, however, there are significant challenges that patients, caregivers, and providers face. A key challenge is the presence of gaps in care due to a lack of care coordination between different providers, which leads to inconsistencies in diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up care. This can result in patients receiving suboptimal care, experiencing unnecessary delays, or falling through the cracks altogether.
Another challenge is the limited communication linking patients, caregivers, public health, and healthcare organizations. Critical challenges could arise, such as poor coordination and management of care, a lack of patient engagement, and unfortunate health outcomes. “Without effective communication between providers, patients and families, care recipients may not receive timely and appropriate care,” said Natasha Ramontal, R.N., Ph.D., HIMSS digital health strategist. "This leads to worsening health conditions or preventable emergency room visits or hospitalizations.”
To address these challenges, it is crucial to prioritize the development of effective communication channels between patients, caregivers, public health, and healthcare organizations.
“Embracing digital technology can help health systems overcome economic and workforce challenges,” said HIMSS chief scientific research officer, Anne Snowdon, R.N., Ph.D. “This can occur if you can meaningfully connect with your patients and identify risks early on. This, in turn, prevents these challenges from happening. This makes for much less expensive care.”
This includes the use of digital health technologies such as electronic health records (EHRs), telehealth, mobile health applications, AI, and analytics. These technologies can help to improve care coordination, reduce gaps in care, and enhance patient engagement. Every healthcare provider, however, is unique in how it uses its technology and workflows to deliver care. Even when two community healthcare organizations use more than 90% of the same technology, their patient populations, capabilities, and workflow needs will be drastically different. Many struggle to understand which digital tools are working, which need further optimization, and which must be eliminated.
To address these issues, HIMSS has launched the Community Care Outcomes Maturity Model (C-COMM). This maturity model helps optimize the continuation of care for care recipients and populations outside the confines of a standard acute care or hospital venue. It assesses the value provided to individuals through digital tools and measure adoption, making it easier for providers and leadership to identify opportunities for improvement to care delivery, and make data-driven choices that advance overall operations. This is important as healthcare organizations continue to experience an increasingly stretched workforce and financial strain.
Gabriel Garcia-Lopez, CPHIMS, health information systems director for the Los Angeles LGBT Center, elaborated on how community care is evolving: “At the Los Angeles LGBT Center we are looking at wrap around services and care that extends beyond the walls of a traditional medical center or hospital,” he said. “We view care as ‘whole-person-connected care’.”
The need for more accessible, integrated, and affordable care options has never been greater, and digital tools are playing a significant role in addressing this need.
To this end, C-COMM provides a vendor-agnostic, evidence-based roadmap for healthcare providers to move through each stage, starting with foundational capabilities and building towards capacity for health information exchange with community partners, care recipients and their care network. By doing so, community care providers can ensure they are delivering the best possible care while leveraging technologies and best practices.
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