By Ronan Rooney
There has been a lot of discussion about the cost of health care and many suggestions about how we can improve population health.
Traditional models of care focus on individual episodes and they work really well for people with simple clinical, behavioral or social challenges. Where they fall down is when they’re applied to people who have multiple or complex challenges – the people we consider the most vulnerable.
As part of IBM’s Curam Research Team, we’re very focused on finding new ways to help those vulnerable citizens who are responsible for a disproportionate amount of healthcare expenditure – the top 5% of spenders drive 45%-50% of total medical spending.
Vulnerable populations include people with significant disabilities, elderly people, at risk teen moms, the homeless children cared for by social services and others. The very nature of their challenges means that they impact the lives of their family – especially the primary caregivers.
By stepping back and considering how care can be more holistic and effective, a new model of caring for these people called Person-Centered, Team-Based Care is designed to address two major issues facing societies around the world: how to improve the lives of our vulnerable populations and lower the unsustainable cost of caring for them. This type of care focuses on the individual, their family, the care network, and the care team.
By concentrating on improving the efficacy of care, lowering the cost, improving the effectiveness and improving the experience for the citizen and their families, tremendous progress is possible. To do this, we need to reevaluate what it means to be person-centered and then dissect the planning and delivery of care while enabling caregivers to team more effectively while serving these citizens.
The approach must be holistic, multidisciplinary and adaptive and caregivers need to spend more time with their clients face-to-face addressing their needs.
Technology plays a huge role in making this type of care possible by providing insight through Big Data in real-time, contextually-aware analytics, access to comprehensive information about social context, safety net and accurate profiles on each individual.
It is important that we are successful – the issue of caring for the world’s most vulnerable is becoming more critical as time passes because the problems exist at a very fundamental level.
Some time back in Dublin, a postman noticed that one of his “regulars” wasn’t answering her door. He grew concerned and raised the alarm and when the first responders entered the house they found that the elderly lady had died. Her front room was littered with letters – or more accurately, with envelopes addressed to herself. To ensure that she had some human interaction, she posted hundreds of letters to herself so that the postman had to ring the bell – and chat.
To learn more about how emerging trends in Analytics, Cloud, Mobile and Social Media can help deliver effective social programs, please attend the IBM Health and Social Programs Summit.