How Technology Can Help Nephrologists Unlock New InsightsAuthor : Strive Health
In recent years, decreasing reimbursement rates and rising administrative burden have taken nephrologists’ time and energy away from patients and led to record levels of physician burnout.
Due to the complexity of the kidney disease population, patients often seek care from multiple providers. That coordination and the necessary follow-ups are a significant administrative burden to nephrologists. For example, many nephrologists struggle to find timely appointments for their vascular access placement referrals. But if they do not coordinate the appointment, it creates downstream implications such as immature fistulas and non-optimal dialysis initiation. While some administrative activities are critical to overall patient management, many detract from direct patient care. A Medscape survey shows that 38% of nephrologists spend 10-19 hours per week on paperwork and administrative tasks, and 36% spend 20 hours or more.
However, recent advancements in technology and data science have upended this trend and created unprecedented flexibility in how nephrologists practice medicine and care for their patients. Nephrologists who adopt new technologies are empowered to connect with patients wherever they are and make precise care decisions much more quickly and reliably.
TECHNOLOGY HAS EMPOWERED NEPHROLOGISTS TO BE MORE DATA-DRIVEN
Nephrologists, by training, analyze data and use it to inform complex decisions for patient care. But given the fragmented nature of healthcare, it is often difficult for nephrologists to access, collect, and standardize useful data from multiple sources—including labs, encounters across multiple providers, and claims data in certain situations. The push toward electronic health records (EHRs) was intended to create more interoperability, but instead it has created even more data silos. And even if nephrologists are able to pull all the valuable data together, the process is time-consuming and administratively burdensome.
For example, patient-level claims data provides one of the most holistic views of patients’ healthcare utilization patterns. But to access this data, nephrologists need to convince a payor that there is value in providing access to it, sign additional data use agreements, and have the means to store and analyze large quantities of this data in a data warehouse. This process would need to be repeated for each payor the practice works with, which requires considerable time, investment, and effort that do not fit into nephrologists’ already busy schedules.
Recent developments in technology and the emergence of innovative tech-focused companies that specialize in kidney care have driven a powerful change in the way nephrologists use technology to improve their practice and patient outcomes. Advanced software platforms powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms are now able to collect, store, and make sense of massive amounts of data, which empowers nephrologists to cut through the noise and focus on providing high-touch patient care.
What’s more, the leading software platforms aggregate and standardize data from hundreds of sources—including claims, labs, and encounter data—providing nephrologists with a singular holistic view of individual patients and across their entire panels. By working with multiple physician partners, companies that offer these software solutions create enough scale to invest in building connectivity to critical data sources, including health information exchanges (HIEs), payor data feeds, and national lab companies. These integrations can be readily turned on without having to build from scratch when new nephrologist clients come aboard. With valuable data in hand, advanced analytics can then be used to generate risk assessments on patient outcome measures such as kidney failure during a given time frame (see Figure 1), an adverse cardiology event, and even mortality.
These innovations can fuel alerting systems, offer diagnostic assistance, and guide treatment decisions, empowering nephrologists to become more data-driven in their practice, more effectively and efficiently use data to guide their clinical decision-making, and direct their time to patients who need the most support.
While collecting and analyzing the data is half of the challenge, the most important hurdle is presenting the right insights to nephrologists in the moment of decision-making. This is where best-in-class software platforms seamlessly integrate with care management workflow tools and physician EHRs to deliver insights in real time, without the costly delays that may have previously limited nephrologists’ ability to take action.
NEW PAYMENT MODELS FACILITATE ACCESS TO NEW TECHNOLOGY AND DATA SOLUTIONS
Historically, large upfront capital investments and lack of related reimbursement have prevented nephrologists from adopting new technologies within their practice. But new value-based payment models provide a vehicle for nephrologists to partner with tech-focused companies that specialize in kidney care under a mutually viable business model, which in turn gives nephrologists unprecedented access to innovative technology and data solutions. Software platforms that aggregate data from multiple sources, apply predictive analytics, and present real-time insights to nephrologists at the point of care can be directly applied toward value-based payment activities. When nephrologists participate in new value-based payment models, they can use technology to benefit their patient outcomes, practice revenue, and the day-to-day experience of practicing medicine.
Additionally, value-based models such as the CKCC Model, in which multiple participants come together to work toward common goals, provide a collective platform for nephrologists to compliantly share technology and data resources across multiple practices and partners.
New payment models also enable innovative tech-focused companies that specialize in kidney care to provide technology and data solutions to nephrologists at little to no out-of-pocket investment and instead fund the expense through the value-based payments that the partnership receives. In an interview with Healthcare Innovation, Gary Singer, M.D., a nephrologist who leads Midwest Nephrology Associates in St. Louis, said of his partnership with specialized value-based kidney care company Strive Health, “We see Strive as an extension of our practice, as a partner. Since we are small, we don’t have our own data analytics department. It is a huge benefit to us.”
This blend of technological advancements, new payment models, and new tech-enabled specialized kidney care companies have empowered nephrologists to practice more effectively and more flexibly than ever before.
STRIVE HEALTH’S CARE MULTIPLIER TECHNOLOGY PLATFORM CAN HELP SUPPORT YOU THROUGH THIS INDUSTRY SHIFT
The new payment models introduced by the CMS are indicative of an industry shift toward value-based care. Strive Health partners with nephrologists, health systems, payors, and medical groups to create integrated solutions that make effective value-based kidney care a reality.
Our partnerships include solutions to support you and your patients transition to value-based kidney care. To talk more about value-based care options, complete our contact form and we will reach out.