Providers increasingly are shifting their focus to ambulatory care—but providers must address key challenges as they move forward, says Ann Scott Blouin, EVP of customer relations at the Joint Commission.
U.S. Census Bureau data show that ambulatory care spending grew by 7.3 percent from Q2 2015 to Q2 2016, totaling $244.3 billion. Experts say the growth is fueled in part by new value-based payment models and technology advancements.
In fact, a 2015 peer60 report concluded that the widespread adoption of EHRs and an increase in ambulatory care facilities attesting to the federal EHR incentive program are "good indicators ambulatory care is ready for primetime."
But this shift toward ambulatory care can pose significant quality and safety challenges. Blouin outlined the top five quality and safety challenges facing ambulatory care:
Despite these challenges, experts believe that ambulatory care's gradual growth rate increases will continue as technology improves.
Robert Berenson, a fellow at the Urban Institute, said, "People don't want to go to the hospital if things can be performed safely out of the hospital." And technology, he explained, has significantly increased providers' ability to perform procedures outside of hospitals.
Blouin noted that technology has reshaped the industry within the span of her career: "When I first became a RN, nobody would have ever thought of doing a hip replacement or knee replacement" outside of the hospital. But today those can be done as outpatient procedures for uncomplicated patients with low risk factors.
"Technology and the advances of science has continued to help to move things to outpatient," Blouin, adding, "I do believe there will continue to be some slow but incremental growth in ambulatory."
To learn more about the strategies health care providers can use as they transition to ambulatory care models, join Blouin for an Advisory Board webconference on Thursday, Oct. 20. She'll detail additional challenges emerging in ambulatory care, transitions of care and care coordination, and several strategies for health care teams to consider as they move forward.
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