How Effective Communication Helps Organizations Achieve the Quintuple Aim Part 1
What is the goal of healthcare? An answer such as “good health” may seem like an obvious response, however, sometimes a simple question has a complex answer. For many years, one of the most influential answers to this question was put forth in 2001 by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in a report called “Crossing the Quality Chasm.” Their framework included these six goals for any healthcare system:
- Safe: Avoiding harm to patients from the care that is intended to help them.
- Effective: Providing services based on scientific knowledge to all who could benefit and refraining from providing services to those not likely to benefit (avoiding under-use and misuse).
- Patient-centered: Providing care that is respectful of and responsive to individual patient preferences, needs, and values and ensuring that patient values guide all clinical decisions.
- Timely: Reducing waits and sometimes harmful delays for both those who receive and those who give care.
- Efficient: Avoiding waste, including waste of equipment, supplies, ideas, and energy.
- Equitable: Providing care that does not vary in quality because of personal characteristics such as gender, ethnicity, geographic location, and socioeconomic status.
In 2006, two faculty members of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), John Whittington, MD and Tom Nolan, MD, came up with the idea of the “Triple Aim” to define the aims of healthcare. They concluded the social needs outlined by the IOM were only for individuals who needed care. The health of the population was a second component that wasn’t included in the IOM framework.
The Triple Aim is made up of three points:
- Experience of Care: The original IOM list (above).
- Population Health: Addresses the “why” related to healthcare needs. “Why does a person have a heart attack, break their arm, or experience depression?” This point looks at the causes of why a person experiences an adverse health event, and how to keep each individual in good health.
- Per Capita Cost: Keep costs down because most individuals, companies, and governments have limited resources and need to spend funds on things other than healthcare.
Additional aspects to the Triple Aim have been adopted by healthcare organizations to include Improved Clinical Experience (the Quadruple Aim) to combat staff burnout and lower patient satisfaction and Health Equity (the Quintuple Aim) as it pertains to policy including systematic incorporation, measurable and transparent reporting, consideration of systemic contributing factors, and reimbursement.
Contact Center Software and the Quintuple Aim
Most of the previously-mentioned goals include a communication component. Effective communication software that works with an organization’s existing technology is an important tool to help healthcare systems achieve the Quintuple Aim.
Removing Barriers to Health Equity
The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is a federal agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and is focused on improving the healthcare of people who are considered to be geographically isolated, and economically or medically vulnerable. Medically under-served populations and areas are designated by HRSA as having too few primary care providers, high infant mortality, high poverty, or a high elderly population.
These populations include uninsured individuals, vulnerable populations including the elderly, low-income, ethnic minorities, migrants, and people who received a limited education, and those with poor access to healthcare because of inadequate transportation or a lack of available services.
Technology enables medical contact centers to effectively become an extension of a hospital or clinic’s operations 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Robust communication software used by hospital centers can securely access a patient’s electronic medical record (EMR), update EMRs with notes, and record calls that need to be used for insurance claims and workman's compensation. Because everything is documented, detailed reports can be generated for reporting purposes.
Hospital contact centers help to address two of the biggest barriers to healthcare – language and transportation. Medical staff work with an enormously diverse patient population. Understanding a person’s language leads to better healthcare. Multi-lingual contact center operators or confidential over-the-phone interpreting (OPI) services can be used for access to hundreds of different languages.
Patients with mobility challenges or who live in rural areas can receive some health services via telehealth. Operators can coordinate care, make follow-up calls, schedule visits, contact on-call medical staff, and manage referrals. Contact centers that are staffed by qualified nurses or multidisciplinary teams (such as a resident, pharmacist, and social worker) can make health assessments, give medical advice, mental health counseling, and escalate critical concerns.