By Robert Hanscom, Vice President, Risk Management and Analytics
 
There’s nothing like scrutinizing past data to shine a light on the path forward—especially in times of change. Perhaps that’s why the trends revealed in two recent reports from Coverys are so key to helping healthcare organizations navigate future risks. 
 
This past year, we compiled copious value-based care (VBC) industry statistics and practice insights along with 10 years’ worth of our own claims data into two of our most popular reports published in 2020: Red Signal Report — Value-Based Care and A Call for Action: Insights From a Decade of Malpractice Claims. As healthcare organizations continue to grapple with challenges highlighted by COVID-19, a closer examination of the insights in these reports leads us to make these four predictions about the upcoming risks healthcare leaders will face:
 
Prediction 1: Emerging practices generate new risks
Despite an overwhelming consensus about the need to improve patient care and reduce risks, change is not happening as collectively as necessary. Indeed, the rapid development of new technologies and procedures is creating new areas of risk. A good example is seen in electronic health records (EHRs).
 
In theory, EHRs provide better data and centralize the capture of everything relevant to a patient’s clinical profile. In reality, though, serious issues are evident. Data shows that common mistakes include looking at the wrong dropdown, the wrong screen, outdated information, or incorrect documentation—all of which can lead to diagnostic-related malpractice allegations.
 
Prediction 2: Data becomes the fix, not the headache
The past 10 years have been challenging for an already overextended healthcare workforce. Bottom-line pressures have included rising litigation costs and more stringent reimbursement mandates. Ongoing crises, loss of patient trust, and less-than-optimal IT systems have created stress and burnout among front-line clinicians and staff.
 
The good news is that healthcare leaders can use existing tools to generate, package, and learn from data to motivate positive action. Looking to the future, it will be critical to engage beyond the day to day to rise above the persistent risks that challenge safe, high-quality care.
 
Prediction 3: Telehealth’s rise leads to diagnostic error risks
The ability to conduct remote conversations and some level of physical examination has been critical during the COVID-19 pandemic, and telehealth is expected to grow exponentially. As the shift to telehealth continues, however, risks may come to the surface. These might include an overreliance on technology, failure to appropriately document care, the diagnosis of clinical conditions without an in-person encounter, and lack of a traditional clinical evaluation.
 
Prediction 4: Value-based care becomes more prevalent
COVID-19 is accelerating the shift to value-based care, as budgets face new and sizable constraints at all levels. Federal government funding that was used to support the economy during the pandemic will exacerbate existing deficits and further increase pressure to reduce future healthcare costs, which will affect the commercial healthcare market. In a shrinking economy, employers and consumers will become much more aggressive about finding better ways to manage their healthcare spending—and thus accelerate the movement toward value.
 
Turn Trends Analysis Into Action
Given all the change and uncertainty within healthcare today, it’s comforting to know that lessons can be drawn from the information we already have at our disposal. With these insights, we can begin to mitigate risks even as we continue to innovate.
 
For more trends, predictions, and practical recommendations to navigate them, check out: