Research has revealed that improving the quality and outcomes for patients at reduced costs (value-based healthcare) is dominating the NHS leadership agenda. More than eight in 10 (82 per cent) of NHS professionals are already looking to make changes in how they work to achieve this.
However, a meaningful rollout of value-based healthcare is very much in its infancy, with many admitting that their organisations are still not clear on the benefits of delivering integrated care. The study, “Value-based healthcare: the ‘fix it’ strategy for the UK?”, commissioned by SAS, surveyed 200 professionals from across the NHS on their attitudes and practical progress towards delivering increased value from existing resources, and how well placed their IT systems are to support value-based healthcare.
In total, 64 per cent said the benefits are still not very well understood, which is almost double the number (36 per cent) of those that said their organisation understands the benefits very well.
This follows a recent warning from NHS Providers, the body that represents hospitals across England, that the NHS is close to breaking point and that achieving a seven-day NHS is ‘impossible under current funding levels’. The UK’s public healthcare system is undoubtedly facing relentless pressure to deliver more at lower costs. The research does suggest that more could be done to secure better value for patients and address discrepancies in performance.
Overall, one in 10 respondents said they can’t measure patient outcomes at all and the vast majority (66 per cent) have a very limited ability to measure patient outcomes. Currently only 11 per cent stated that they are able to measure the outcome of every medical intervention across the treatment cycle, while 14 per cent replied that they can measure outcomes and dynamically change treatment plans to optimise health results.
David Downing, Director of Health, SAS UK, said: “With the future of the NHS under scrutiny, the government and NHS providers are all desperately seeking the answer to how to deliver better quality of care without increasing the gaping budget chasm. In fact, with the funding gap facing the NHS potentially growing to £30 billion a year by 2021,organisations need to start taking ownership of delivering more patient value – and consequently more financial value – from their resources. Through always underpinning clinical experience with data-driven insights and collaboration and making every decision a “decision of value”, industry practitioners can analyse the status quo, model future possible scenarios and their outcomes, and ensure processes and treatment deliver optimal tangible value. The industry requires a step-change that puts patients at the core, rewarding quality and patient outcomes. By putting data front and centre, decisions can be founded on deep insights with less subjectivity and far greater objectivity.”
When it comes to the sensitive topic of budgeting and cost allocation, while the majority of respondents are still unable to measure costs in a way that will drive up operational, clinical and patient value, some creative thinking is being deployed. Overall, 57 per cent of industry practitioners are either already pooling or somewhat pooling budgets with their local authority. More than one in five are now measuring costs at the ‘micro’ medical condition level, recording the costs of treating a single ailment, and over a quarter (26 per cent) are measuring the complete cost of treating a patient from the first interaction all the way through the care cycle. However, the two most common ways costs are measured still fall at the wider macro level - monitoring overall budgets (44 per cent) and measuring aggregated costs by department (46 per cent).
As the NHS transitions towards a model of value-based healthcare, the good news is that 88 per cent of respondents regard their information technology systems as a key enabler of change. Healthcare officials are looking at new ways to improve access to medical treatment and advice. Yet, 79 per cent of respondents claim their current IT system is unable to support integrated, multi-disciplinary care, with systems largely incapable of delivering the required analyses.
“A new approach is needed that empowers the NHS to interpret clean, current and accurate data to so that demand for services can be forecast, new care pathways planned, treatment plans modelled and patient outcomes analysed. Only through developing new models of care, will the NHS start to achieve efficiency savings and address the decline in patient outcomes,” concluded Downing.