Blockchain is an emerging technology that has received quite a bit of attention for the potential to disrupt in a variety of industries. Healthcare stands to benefit from the technology as blockchains are designed for large volumes of data. The industry is characterized by massive amounts of data, much of it siloed and difficult to access through disparate technology.
The value that could be gained from the data for process improvement to increase efficiency and reduce costs has been held back by the lack of interoperability and accessibility. But blockchain may open the gate. The application of blockchain technology for the healthcare industry holds promise for everything from clinical and insurance records to payer files and supply chain.
It’s not unusual for departments in healthcare organizations to work in silos, a metaphor that reminds us of those tall farm structures used to hold and protect grain and feed. While there are many circumstances when healthcare information needs to be guarded, especially when it comes to patients, isolating data in some departments can actually harm an organization.
In certain cases, information sharing and collaboration is essential.
For instance, when people in supply chain and finance departments proactively collaborate, synch up efforts, plus integrate their technology, it can help an organization achieve its overarching mission of delivering quality patient care while reducing costs.
Standardization is critical to the successful transition to value-based healthcare. Karen Conway, vice president, Healthcare Value for GHX recently reported on the value of GS1 standards for clinicians following the 34th Global Healthcare Conference in Bangkok, Thailand. New to the conference this year were sessions on the role of standards in improving value-based healthcare. Susan Moffat-Bruce, MD, a thoracic surgeon and executive director of The Ohio State University (OSU) Wexner Medical Center explained that doctors want to improve patient outcomes, but many are not aware of GS1 standards and the value they can provide.
One thing no one has on their wish list for this gift-giving season is the flu. Getting the flu vaccine is the starting point for reducing the number of flu cases. With the unpredictability in the severity of the flu season from year to year, hospitals are increasingly enforcing a “zero tolerance” policy for flu vaccination for vendor representatives in addition to employees as part of an overall patient safety strategy. GHX is aware of more than 300 health system networks enforcing the influenza vaccine, and we have processed over 86,600 flu documents this season. As such, this is a good reminder that credentialing, and vaccine requirements, are all about protecting patients and hospital staff.
Collaboration between supply chain and other functional areas of healthcare will be critical in driving the next level of innovation in healthcare. It's no wonder that supply chain teams are called upon to facilitate the collaboration necessary to tackle cost, quality, and outcomes given the immense value found in supply chain data and expertise. The importance of both the data and expertise will continue to grow in a value-based healthcare environment.
In 2013, around the same time that value-based purchasing and alternate payment models hit the healthcare scene, the Association for Health Care Resource & Materials Management (AHRMM) launched its Cost, Quality and Outcomes (CQO) Movement, which frames the new role that supply chain professionals play in today’s value-based healthcare environment.