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Report Details Connectivity and Other Trends
The COVID-19 pandemic has had – and continues to have – significant impacts on health trends. During this past year conversations about improving virtual care, health data and patient care have increased. Although we continue to face COVID-19 and other health care challenges, technology, innovation, and connectivity have been helping us focus on increasing access to health care and lowering costs across the health care system. Below are some of the highlights and themes from the Health Trends Report 2021 from CVS Health.
Patient access to virtual care increased during the past year leading to the elevated importance of electronic health records (EHRs) interoperability innovation and integration. The 21st Century Cures Act enables better interoperability, while CVS Health partners with one of the nation’s largest EHR companies so fragmentation of health data will start to decrease while efficiencies will increase. Streamlining EHRs will help patients start the lowest net cost therapy and prevent unnecessary utilization.
Enhancing cancer care
As part of the Transform Oncology Care program, we integrate the National Comprehensive Cancer Network treatment guidelines (NCCN Guidelines) into Novologix, the CVS web-based provider portal. This merges technology with standard of care improvements and innovates cancer care. Providers can better access NCCN Guidelines for patients with cancer, helping to reduce costly hospitalizations, chemotherapy treatments, and side effects. Positive results from pilots of Transform Oncology Care across 12 states indicate improved care for patients and lower costs for payors.
Integrating points of care
Technology and a connected infrastructure will more easily bring diagnostic care within people’s reach. Alan Lotvin, M.D., Executive Vice President, CVS Health and President, CVS Caremark, explains a forward-thinking approach to coordinating and integrating whole person care through technology and a connected infrastructure.
Pharmacists serve a trusted role in the health care industry and during the pandemic have become even more active than ever. Integrating the pharmacist role with machine-learning insights helps to manage chronic conditions such as diabetes. When pharmacists prioritize patients with chronic conditions, they can provide one-on-one coaching and individualized counseling. This pharmacist panel can increase medication adherence and help close gaps in clinical care while decreasing expensive emergency room visits and lowering costs for patients and payors.
Impacting community health
The number of people living with diabetes continues to grow. Racial inequalities exacerbate the risks, with Black adults twice as likely as whites to develop type 2 diabetes. A community-based approach that capitalizes on retail points of care can help address improving access and affordability of care. Offering on-site retinal screening, pharmacist consultations, and access to guidance – in person or virtually – from certified diabetes educators can help patients with nutrition and lifestyle.
Other trends or areas of emphasis for 2021:
- Many people struggle with mental health and the pandemic has increased the need for mental health support. It is an area that continues to need attention, including how to make treatment more accessible.
- Machine-learning algorithms constantly sift through data components and engage patients based on their preferred communications platform. In addition to raising the patients’ awareness, the communications provide clinically validated next steps, which helps in addressing big cost drivers.
- CVS Health is committing to the Age-Friendly Health Systems approach, an initiative led by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. MinuteClinic, the retail medical clinic of CVS Health and the largest retail clinic network in the United States, will adopt the method, which targets the health care challenges of the burgeoning population of those older than 65, many with multiple chronic conditions.
- Value-based contracting will help patients gain access to expensive drugs, such as gene therapies. Medical management partnerships help ensure major procedures are administered with the goal of long-term success. And financial protection plans help fund expensive therapies among smaller payment pools.
- Although patients quickly adapted to telehealth visits during the pandemic, consumers also more widely embraced the use of apps and wearables. This increasing acceptance can provide additional datapoints that can be incorporated into EHRs and provide a physician with a clearer picture of a patient’s health.
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