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Breaking Down Silos: 4 Ways Premier is Working to Build a Unified Continuum of Care


Key takeaways:
  • A truly connected provider-patient experience is paramount across the continuum of care (CoC); however, not all organizations have optimized or solved for all-important care coordination.
  • Vital to every individual’s healthcare journey, it’s imperative we find ways to align the CoC for greater efficiencies, cost savings and the best possible outcomes.
  • Through technology, group purchasing and supply chain solutions, advocacy efforts and more, Premier is helping to bridge the gap among patients, providers and suppliers and optimize the care delivery system.

Across the continuum of care (CoC) in the U.S. (i.e., wellness services to chronic care and everything in between), there’s a widening gap between healthcare providers and their patients that’s impacting the delivery of the most-effective care. Many of us have experienced what it’s like to be in that gap through our own healthcare journeys or alongside a loved one. I most recently experienced it with my 87-year-old father who underwent minor surgery.

After the procedure, my father went home with a few new medications, multiple instructions, two new doctors and a wallop of a wound. Within 48 hours, we were back in the emergency department, received more medications, met with more doctors and were given more instructions. Fortunately, all turned out well for my father in the end but, for several weeks, our lives were interrupted, and we were on an emotional rollercoaster due to these experiences.

So, what’s going on behind the scenes that can lead to disconnected provider-patient experiences and lack of care coordination? At Premier, we see CoC providers up against four main challenges.

1. Interoperable healthcare data. A major factor in achieving a cohesive provider-patient experience is a seamless exchange of data among information systems throughout a patient’s journey along the care continuum. The issue? Most of today’s healthcare data lacks interoperability. It’s hidden away in disparate, incompatible systems that make it difficult for providers to share, instantly view, analyze and interpret patient data, and thus, the result can be inefficient, disconnected care.

2. Lack of or outdated technology. While much of our lives can be managed with a simple click, the technology that drives healthcare provider operations has largely not kept pace. And for smaller CoC providers, critical technologies such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems and procurement platforms can be difficult and expensive to deploy, putting them out of reach for many.

ERP systems play an essential role in a healthcare organization’s daily operations, including effective supply chain management; however, most are not scaled for the specific needs of CoC providers. A digitized procurement platform can improve processes and efficiencies between CoC providers and suppliers, enabling providers to quickly place orders via mobile devices, easily track and maintain inventory levels and route invoices on one system. Without these technologies, a streamlined workflow that puts essential supplies into the hands of clinicians when they need them is jeopardized.

3. Cumbersome manual processes. Due to technology challenges, the healthcare industry still largely relies on inefficient, manual processes to get routine administrative work done. Think: filling out paper-based forms for collecting patient data, billing and managing claims or calling in prescriptions by phone rather than sending electronically. It’s all a reflection of the disconnected care that providers and patients navigate. And behind the frontlines of patient care, manual back-office processes in the supply chain contribute to a disconnected provider-supplier experience that can result in costly inefficiencies and even put patient care at risk.

4. Balancing the cost of care with reimbursement received. The lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to impact many providers’ ability to stay fiscally viable, which can impact their ability to provide safe, effective care. The recoupment of payments associated with the COVID-19 Accelerated and Advanced Payments (CAAP) Program affects providers’ Medicare reimbursements. And then there’s the unwinding of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) with federal funding coming to an end. Providers need to plan for how they’ll transition to post-COVID-19 operations and ensure continuity in patient care – all while mitigating workforce shortages, battling inflation and managing other stressors on the bottom line.

Premier is actively driving efforts to alleviate these challenges and create a more connected care continuum experience for patients, providers and the suppliers they work with.

Here are four ways we’re working to bridge the gap:

  • Technology-enablement of critical business processes. Our technology-driven solutions enable more efficient purchasing and supply chain operations for CoC providers that may not have the resources to install a full ERP system. To address this need, Premier is introducing a new digital procurement and inventory management platform, Premier SmartPO™. This solution provides a single platform offering complete visibility into a provider’s purchasing process. Other tech-enabled tools include Remitra® accounts payable automation solutions for paper-free invoicing and payables and our stockd® digital sales platform that offers limited-time deals on contracted products, as well as direct-sourced products at significant savings.
  • Regulatory and legislative advocacy. We’re advocating on behalf of providers to help safeguard their financial viability and to ensure reimbursement reflects care in settings that are most beneficial to patients. These include pressing Congress for provider relief from Medicare payment cuts and supporting the Long-Term Care (LTC) Pharmacy Distribution Act and the Preserving Patient Access to Home Infusion Act. We recently published a Roadmap for the 118th Congress that details our efforts in these areas and on other issues that we believe are ripe for bipartisan backing over the next two years. Additionally, we recently shared our support on the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services’ commitment to improving access to care and enabling better data interoperability among providers, patients and payers.
  • LTC infection surveillance. We’re providing much-needed, long-overdue, clinical surveillance technology specifically designed for LTC facilities. In 2022, Premier’s PINC AI™ team redeveloped our acute-care infection-surveillance solution to monitor for specific markers of infections among LTC facility residents. This AI-driven solution looks to automate LTC operations and ensure that patients receive quality, more timely care.
  • Cost savings through our group purchasing business. Our CoC portfolio, offering 3,000+ negotiated contracts with industry-leading suppliers and approximately $82B in combined annual purchasing volume, is helping to bolster CoC supply chain resiliency by translating collective purchasing power into significant cost savings, contract risk reduction and access to the high-quality supplies and pharmaceuticals for the effective delivery of patient care.

Helping to Protect and Expand our Nation’s CoC Business

The CoC is a vital component of the U.S. healthcare ecosystem, where the vast majority of provider-patient interaction occurs. Given its breadth and depth, it’s imperative we work together to create more connected operations and experiences that enable cohesive, quality care delivery. Providers will benefit, patients will benefit, suppliers will benefit. It’s a win-win-win all around.

For more on this topic:
  • Check out our blog for three ways Premier is supporting CoC providers.
  • In another blog, see how accounts payable automation can financially and operationally benefit CoC providers.
  • Learn more about how Premier’s Continuum of Care services are driving value for members.

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