After decades of practicing pediatric medicine, I know there’s a better way to serve young patients like Sophia. It’s called value-based care, and if you’re reading this blog then there’s a good chance you are already familiar with this term. You’ve probably also heard arguments about why it won’t work in pediatric care. But I’m here to tell you that it will: I saw this work first-hand when I was leading a pediatric department more than 10 years ago, and I’ll outline what I believe to be an important step to achieve it.
At Philips, we believe in value-based care as a delivery framework to improve health outcomes at lower cost. It focuses on what stakeholders in the healthcare system—patients, healthcare staff, care providers and others—value, and then allocates resources according to the health outcomes delivered by the system. We make value-based care principles actionable by translating value-based care into the Quadruple Aim – better health outcomes, improved patient experience, improved staff experience, and lower cost of care. Achieving any one of these in pediatrics depends on essential building blocks, such as clearly defined outcomes and measurement standards, in combination with digital, connected solutions that build on health informatics and artificial intelligence.
Critics of value-based care in pediatrics say that the patient population is just too small, the health conditions too chronic or severe, the spectrum of diseases too broad and the current protocols too entrenched. Why bother with a new model?
The reason is simple; for your children, my children, everyone’s children —that’s why. We must restructure care to focus on what’s best for the long-term benefit of children because they still have their entire lives ahead of them. By breaking down silos in care, focusing on outcomes, and transforming reimbursement models, we can achieve the Quadruple Aim of value-based care.
Let me paint a picture of what value-based care could have looked like for Sophia.
From the time of Sophia’s diagnosis, a team of caregivers—from primary care to disease specialists—works together as a unit to provide care over the long term. Instead of operating as many separate doctors who are paid a fee for each service, the team is reimbursed based on performance and outcomes over a longer period of time.
Digital connected care technology allows pediatricians to work together as a fully integrated team. They can share information and work together to address and coordinate care, which improves the patient’s experience and saves money at the same time. Sophia is now able to use telehealth solutions to connect her, her family and her caregivers for online consultations and care coordination. This dramatically reduces the number of trips to the hospital and the time burden associated with that travel. What do you think Sophia would prefer? Sitting in hospital waiting rooms or playing tag out on the street with her friends?
Doctors can monitor Sophia’s treatment outcomes remotely, and, in some cases, even provide additional treatment in the comfort of her home. By using dedicated, intelligent software on their smartphones, Sophia’s family can stay informed about her day-to-day health. Such an ecosystem of connected care solutions helps us to achieve the Quadruple Aim—it creates a better experience for both the patient and healthcare providers, and saves money over the long term.
But it’s not about using technology for its own sake—it’s about using technology to improve outcomes and the experience of the patient, their families and all other stakeholders in the health system, including payers, providers, and insurers, at lower cost. In other words, complete health systems working together to achieve the Quadruple Aim.
I cannot say this too often: children are not simply small adults—they think and behave in a different way, have different emotional needs, and therefore require a totally different care approach than adults, with medical procedures tailored to their specific needs. An example I truly love is our Ambient Experience solution that uses unique sounds and visuals to help children relax during an imaging procedure, reducing the expense associated with the need for repeated scans.