4 steps to take the healthcare continuum into the age of value-based care

Amid a transitional period for the healthcare industry, providers should "connect the dots" between a few key guiding principles to strengthen the care continuum, according to a new whitepaper from the American Hospital Association (AHA).

More than four years ago, the AHA's Committee on Performance Improvement established four principles as essential elements of the transition from volume-based to value-based care models: aligning providers across the continuum to improve care; use of evidence-based care improvement strategies; financial management that provides incentives for efficiency; and integrated information systems. Previous AHA whitepapers have set forth several guiding principles for workforce transitions, all of which fall into four primary categories: team-based care; emerging healthcare models; patient/family engagement; and care coordination/transition management.

This whitepaper cites numerous case studies that demonstrate the successful implementation of these principles. For example, the Wisconsin Hospital Association found hospitals focused on team-based care and increased their ambulatory care workforce in 2014, after saving $45 million through readmission-reduction efforts the year before. Similarly, evidence-based guidelines and new care models for stroke care have helped Georgia hospitals increase the number of acute stroke patients receiving proper, timely care more than 25 percent over a four-year period.  

To begin making these goals a reality, the whitepaper states, providers must take several steps, including:

  • Assess their current workforces and patient bases to decide what type of care best fits their needs
  • Ensure healthcare staff understand provider-specific challenges to equip them to engage patients and their families
  • Mandate team-based care and interprofessional education
  • Make sure clinicians understand all steps and aspects of care transitions

Information technology will play a major role in the transition, according to the whitepaper, acting as a "common fiber" between the four major principles. Providers already are investing heavily in healthcare IT and interoperability to improve care quality and coordination. For example, as both the private sector and state and federal policymakers seek ways to reduce obstacles to improved healthcare access, increased use of telehealth shows particular promise.

To learn more:
- read the whitepaper (.pdf)