While there are certainly doubts about the benefits of the payer model, the success of recent payer-provider partnerships demonstrates the potential of these programs to improve the patient and provider experience. A study of Aetna’s integrated program, for example, found that plan members can realize significant savings on costly chronic conditions and experience fewer hospitalizations. A similar report from Cigna echoed these findings, finding that integrated benefit plans led to increased patient engagement. Synthesizing data from payers and providers increases patient visibility, giving healthcare professionals the context they need to improve health outcomes and streamline care.
The slow expansion of payer networks is not due to a lack of interest in emulating programs like CVS Health/Aetna or Cigna. In fact, according to a survey by the Healthcare Financial Management Association, 60% of providers are looking to follow suit and become payers this year. However, the same report shows that data and technology costs are significant barriers to implementation.
The main advantage of this model is the ability to share population and individual information to create a more holistic view of the patient, but if the data is separated across different networks, no partner will be able to take advantage of these opportunities. For payers and providers to access and analyze information from care coordination platforms, pharmacy benefit reports, and electronic health records, they need interoperable and flexible data storage solutions.
Future-proof IT for growing organizations
The healthcare industry generates approximately 30% of the world’s data volume, and data growth in this sector will continue to grow exponentially. Payers need solutions that securely store all of this data and also keep patient charts, notes, images, patient-generated data, and other clinical information accessible and shared. To provide this comprehensive care to their members, payers must first expand their network coverage. Acquiring clinics and in some cases other plans allows them to grow their business and increase member satisfaction.
With acquisitions comes the challenge of managing different sets of applications and often separate infrastructures. To control costs, payers must consolidate infrastructure to support their various business units. When you introduce a new medical practice or plan, data storage grows, often in unpredictable ways. Traditional management methods often require organizations to rip and replace infrastructure that is unable to support new workloads, resulting in costly and time-consuming transformations. Because patient data is at risk, conversion can cause disruptions in care and jeopardize the validity of clinical data.
A storage infrastructure model that allows these organizations to expand their footprint without conversion or disruption not only saves time and money, but also puts patient data first. Members require real-time access to their EHR and insurance information, and downtime compromises their ability to manage their care. To effectively scale their infrastructure support, organizations must consolidate their data storage into a centralized, always-on solution rather than separate infrastructure locations. On-demand storage-as-a-service solutions are key to managing massive amounts of data, ensuring an organization’s IT can grow with the company itself.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities for next-generation analytics
Collecting and streamlining data is almost useless without a method to analyze the information to uncover useful insights. While traditional analytical models are useful for hypothesis-driven research, organizations of the future must use artificial intelligence and machine learning to find patterns in massive data sets. With payer- and provider-side visibility of healthcare delivery, data teams can predict crisis events, promote personalized care and identify patients at risk. AI systems can mine population-level data to identify predictors of certain chronic conditions or analyze patient records to better inform accurate diagnosis. Ultimately, these technologies provide organizations with the information they need to provide better preventive care and reduce hospital and emergency room admissions.
Despite all these advantages, few organizations are using these AI capabilities in a meaningful way. According to a Deloitte report, 90% of healthcare professionals surveyed believe AI is important to their organization, but many are unable to take advantage of the technology due to siled, unintegrated data sets.
For healthcare organizations to maximize the potential of these next-generation analytics tools, they need AI-ready storage solutions. Whether on-premises or in the cloud, much of the existing legacy infrastructure technology requires teams of data scientists to perform analytics and transfer data to ML-enabled platforms, resulting in significant delays. Deploying new AI-ready infrastructure can accelerate the speed of insights, facilitating innovation and producing actionable, cutting-edge analytics.
Extending the Functionality of Healthcare IT
As the healthcare industry continues to undergo digital transformation, investing in flexible, multi-purpose IT across the organization will be paramount. Health technologies no longer serve separate purposes. An EHR is not just a collection of visit summaries, but a compilation of patient-generated data, physician notes, and clinical images that are integrated into a holistic view of a patient’s health. Telehealth platforms have expanded beyond video chats to include asynchronous care delivery, voice analytics, and automatic generation of clinical notes. Similar innovation exists in the data storage space, helping organizations store, protect and analyze the billions of gigabytes of information generated by patients.
Especially for payers, future-ready IT is a must. The benefits of closer payer-provider relationships are becoming clear as these newer organizations continue to expand and account for patient outcomes and business performance data. The future of healthcare is always unpredictable, so why should organizations invest in solutions that cannot adapt and grow with them? Every day, data becomes more important to understanding patient populations and improving their treatment and coverage. With agile, AI and cloud-ready storage, these organizations can ensure their IT is prepared to support their growth.
About Priscilla Sandberg
Priscilla Sandberg is senior manager of healthcare strategic alliances at Pure Storage, helping to expand the company’s healthcare vertical to deliver state-of-the-art storage infrastructure to organizations, ensuring customers have the tools to meet ever-changing data collection and reporting requirements of today’s healthcare environment.