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  • December 23 2010

    Information, evidence and automation to survive...and thrive

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    The traditional hospital strategy of increasing activity to grow revenue is defunct in this challenging economic environment. Much like the accountable care organizations (ACOs) that are being developed in the U.S., the UK will be shifting to a model of results-based payments for health providers, rewarding the quality of care provided as opposed to simply the quantity of patients treated. This change is outlined in the Liberating the NHS White Paper, which marks the start of a series of radical changes for healthcare in the UK which could add up to the greatest change in 60 years.

    The themes of ‘choice,' 'transparency' and 'devolution' run deep within the White Paper, introducing a real market for healthcare and a shift in power to the clinicians providing frontline services. The Department of Health faces these changes in a difficult economic environment with the NHS needing to make efficiency savings of some £20 billion over the next five years. However, the NHS can achieve these saving by supporting the implementation of technology that improves the integration of care and incorporates the application of evidence based medical practices.

    Excellence and efficiency will need to be the hallmarks of success as the number of hospital beds falls alongside downward pressure on price as care moves further into the community and a greater emphasis is put on preventative care. For community services, a fundamental rethink of the way they deliver services and the way in which technology can be used to improve care and reduce costs is called for. Now is the time for the application of evidence, population segmentation and pro-active intervention.

    The success of the NHS reforms is dependent upon quality and cost transparency allowing consumers to reward the best performing providers and letting the worst fail. In the future, customers will compare providers online and analyse quality of service by access to their medical record. As providers are paid on the basis of outcomes and quality indicators, the most technologically advanced and automated will be equipped to measure these metrics in real-time allowing them to take corrective action thus maximising both payment and, more importantly, providing better clinical outcomes.  

    Throughout healthcare, data will be central to driving the market – those that are yet to get ‘IT' are at a critical disadvantage. We are at the point now of automating to survive but those that do ‘IT,' and successfully, will thrive.

    Matthew Swindells, Managing Director and VP of Global Consulting, is responsible for building Cerner's global health transformation capability and ensuring the company works to improve the quality and cost of health services around the world. Swindells brings more than 20 years of healthcare, technology and policy experience to Cerner, including his work with the UK Department of Health and front-line health sector and leadership experience at Royal Surrey County Hospital. He currently is chair of BCS Health, a non-profit institute that promotes social and economic advancement of information technology; chair of the Charity Trustees at Imperial College Healthcare; and a visiting professor in the School of Management at University of Surrey, UK. 

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