What is wrong with Volume to Value based care? Focus on Hypervalue
Rob Melendez, MD, MBA @DrRobMelendez
The phrase “volume to value” is a misnomer. It implies that we are not currently providing any value to our patients and that we are providers who are simply focused on RVUs and FFS. I am appalled by such a phrase. Our focus should be on the term that I will use “hypervalue.” Hypervalue is a term that raises the bar for patients at all levels of patient contact using lean management principles. We need to improve the healthcare system for one reason: to improve the health of our patients. As we have seen over the last 5 years, clicking on boxes to simply satisfy a payment requirement hasn’t increased value for the patient. These programs drive some people to play this game to simply get paid. Our standards should be so high for our patients that when the government mandates that we provide better value it will pale in comparison to what the increased value or hypervalue that we are providing for our patients. For starters, Let me review two hypervalue concepts for our patients. 1) Improving communication with the providers as well as with patients. 2) Using technology to reduce waste and to analyze how we are caring for our patients.
- Communication: We need electronic health records (EHR) that communicate with other providers and healthcare systems to streamline healthcare. Often times, duplicative testing is being performed and we are not aware of it. We also need to continue to improve communication with our patients. The Mayo Clinic has an excellent app for their patients to access their exam notes, labs, appointments etc. This app is an example of hypervalue for our patients. I personally have seen this app in action. Our practice currently uses a patient portal system to communicate with patients which brings value to the patient. We chose to implement EHR in 2005 before we had to because it provided a mechanism to access medical records across our 15 clinics around the state of New Mexico as well as the ability to analyze where we can improve processes and patient care points. Sadly, the cost is enormous for EHR. The costs of EHR can range from the cost of computer equipment, training, IT support and maintenance and beyond. The benefits are truly present today, but when were first started, the costs outweighed the benefits. The benefits today are nearly reaching the costs and will soon improve even more. For example, the IRIS® Registry created by the American Academy of Ophthalmology is a prime example of the huge advantage of EHR. This will increase value to patients or hypervalue. Just think, you now have the ability to easily determine how many of your glaucoma patients had a visual field in the last year and how many of your patients with Diabetes had macular edema to cite 2 examples.
- Technology: Can you imagine a time where patients can input their medical histories online before seeing the doctor via home computer, tablet, or phone with an app? It’s available now, but cost prohibitive in some cases. We trialed a kiosk in the waiting room with little success. It required extra people to teach the patients how to use it. I believe this will come back with time. Think how you first felt when you had to use the kiosk at airports to check yourself in, it was frustrating at first and still is at times. I remember a time in high school when I was a clerk in a grocery store and personally unloaded the customer’s shopping cart and checked them out myself. Now a days, businesses are trying to use technology to improve efficiencies and convenience for certain type of customers with fewer items. Hypervalue would be providing the technology option plus a person to educate the user one to several times until they learned how to use it. The benefit of updating your information before the visit would be to decrease wait times in the clinic. What if there was a faster way to verify insurances before the visit? Perhaps there is, so please share any insights. As we move from so-called volume to value, let us remember that the patient is always first and trying to improve their experience while improving their health is paramount — Focus on hypervalue.
RVUs = Relative value units
FFS = Fee for Service
EHR = Electronic Health Records