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Value-based healthcare is a model in which care providers—hospitals, clinics, health practitioners—are paid according to the health outcomes of their patients. Value-based care is seeing increased adoption in regions across the world, with many experts predicting that a post-pandemic environment will accelerate this adoption. Software as a Service (SaaS) technology is a driving force behind the shift to value-based care by speeding innovation and reducing costs for healthcare organizations.

This article will outline existing challenges in healthcare ecosystems and how the transition to a SaaS environment can help meet these challenges, as well as the benefits of SaaS for healthcare organizations.  

Existing Challenges in the Healthcare Industry 

Industries across the world have been fast adopting SaaS as part of their digital transformation strategy.  The lower costs and flexibility offered by a SaaS model is becoming a prominent feature in industries such as finance, retail and manufacturing. But as these industries change, healthcare lags.  

There are unique challenges in healthcare that have contributed to the slow adoption of the SaaS model, including: 

Difficulty Leveraging Healthcare Data: Accessing and managing data is an ongoing challenge across the healthcare industry. One of the most pressing IT problems is the difficulty of turning this data into actionable insights. The first step in solving this problem is making data more accessible.  

Healthcare data is often fragmented and stored in many different locations—such as data silos not accessible by other systems. This means that healthcare organizations must find ways to bring data together to give patients and clinicians a view of complete healthcare records. Data must be shared, synchronized, and accessible to those who need it when they need it.  

Poor Care Coordination: Research suggests that gaps in care coordination are associated with an increased chance of adverse preventable outcomes, including ER visits and hospitalizations.

Effective healthcare requires coordination of communication not just between patients and caregivers, but also between caregivers and across the entire healthcare system. This challenge has increased with the dependence on virtual care during the pandemic. Going forward, effective care plans must allow communication and documentation to flow with the patient as they move through their personalized plan. 

Lack of Patient Engagement: Low rates of patient engagement are among the biggest challenges in improving patient outcomes. Lack of engagement often stems from inadequate care coordination, resulting in lower follow-up and adherence to treatment protocols. Ultimately, the patients’ needs are not met as effectively as they could be.  

Transitioning to a SaaS Environment 

Healthcare providers have been shifting toward a SaaS environment to address the lack of innovation and high costs with implementing digital services. The transition to a SaaS environment can help healthcare organizations address these problems and more.  

SaaS–The Empowered Care Journey 

A SaaS environment allows healthcare providers to build healthcare experiences with capabilities that match community and patient needs.  

As demonstrated in the graphic below, a SaaS ecosystem provides smart capabilities that assist patients and healthcare providers at all touch points along the care journey. The result is a “connected care” environment that supports patients and healthcare providers as they move through the entire care continuum. The connected care environment is supported by smart technologies that facilitate communication, access to information, collaboration and more.

Image Credit: Microsoft

Here are some examples of SaaS technology supporting a connected care environment:  

  • Virtual Care: Covid-19 has driven the innovation of virtual care which will continue to grow beyond the pandemic. Virtual care can be used at many points along the patient journey, including at-home monitoring, collecting data from remote devices, administration of care plans, and leveraging data to provide a complete picture of a patient’s recovery at home.  
  • Care Collaboration: Care collaboration provides new ways for patients and healthcare providers to interact through the patient journey. A great example is a “multi-service hub”, which gives all stakeholders a place to communicate and share information. Care collaboration can also be leveraged for patient referrals and for building smart hospitals with fluid engagement between health care providers and patients.  
  • Secure Messaging: Secure messaging is important not only to keep a patient’s data safe, but to provide patients and healthcare providers with an easy method of connecting at all points during the care continuum.  

The transition to SaaS creates a new digital experience with a lower cost model and higher levels of flexibility.

Benefits of a SaaS Environment 

Transformation to Value-Based Care: SaaS represents a shift from a disconnected care continuum to one that is focused on value-based care. Value-based healthcare directs healthcare spending toward outcomes that matter most to patients. Spending aims to provide patients with the best care possible, creating a comprehensive care continuum that addresses all patient requirements. This delivery model provides a team approach to healthcare with an emphasis on sharing patient data to coordinate care and make it easier to measure patient outcomes.  

Value-based care aims to meet patient needs at all touch points, which requires open communication, effective data collection, and proper technologies targeted at patients and healthcare providers.  

Shift from Products to Outcomes: Providing better outcomes is a key driver for adopting new technologies and business models. A SaaS model shifts the focus from products to outcomes, with a goal of providing patients with outcomes that match their personal healthcare needs.  

This is best seen in the connected care environment created by SaaS technology. SaaS enables healthcare providers to service patients at all touch points along the care continuum and is coupled with more effective data collection and synchronization. As a result, the patient is provided with better, more individualized care.  

Increased Flexibility and Scalability: A SaaS ecosystem can be readily scaled and is more flexible in meeting the requirements of each stakeholder. This is due to the “connected” nature of a SaaS ecosystem. Because the connected care continuum operates as a whole—and not in isolated silos—it is easier to scale or adapt, as each data point communicates as the care continuum grows.  

SaaS environments become a connected whole, rather than a collection of individual functions, which means they are scalable and flexible into the future. 

SaaS: The Future of Value-Based Healthcare  

A SaaS environment can solve many problems currently faced by healthcare organizations, ushering in a future for value-based healthcare. But even as other industries are rapidly evolving to embrace SaaS, healthcare organizations lag.  

As more healthcare organizations embrace the benefits of it, SaaS technology will continue to evolve, creating more opportunities for these organizations to better serve patients. Healthcare providers can harness SaaS to build a care continuum that provides better outcomes for patients now and into the future, speeding innovation and lowering costs across the industry.