IBM Care Management leads the way to patient-centered care

What can healthcare learn from other businesses? 

That’s a question many healthcare stakeholders are asking, and as IT takes on ever greater importance across the sector, one increasingly prominent answer involves understanding how to put the patient, as well as the patient’s data, at the core of the healthcare experience.

According to Farhana Alarakhiya, director of Smarter Care business for IBM, developing a comprehensive approach to patient care is similar to what the financial services sector did a number of years ago when it moved to put the customer at the center of its business model.

“Previously,” she explained, “banks and other financial institutions would treat customers on a per account basis.  You had your checking account, your savings account, etc.  But then they realized they could do a better job of servicing their customers if they looked at all their financial needs together.  So they implemented IT systems that enabled them to do just that.”

In a similar way, Alarakhiya continued, healthcare organization are still very fragmented when it comes to their patients’ information, with clinical data, billing data, workflow data and other information still largely moving in separate silos.

“Nowhere do you have a focus on all a patient’s needs,” she observed.

Enter IBM Care Management, a technology solution that puts the individual at the center of his or her care.

As Alarakhiya sees it, IBM Care Management brings three key capabilities to care coordination efforts.  The first is the ability to bring in data from multiple sources, structured and unstructured, including clinical, social, psychological – any data on a patient that could conceivably be contributing to his or her medical condition.

Next is the ability to create “a comprehensive and longitudinal care plan that incorporates all of a patient’s needs from a multi-disciplinary perspective.”  For example, not only can clinical data be collected and analyzed with IBM Care Management, but so can social and economic data.  So, if it is determined that a patient’s living or economic conditions (such as a mold problem that a landlord refuses to address) are partially responsible for the patient’s health condition by aggravating an asthma condition, then social program stakeholders can be incorporated into the mix of caregivers responsible for the patient’s care plan.

Finally, with a care plan in place, IBM Care Management enables ongoing collaboration among all relevant care givers, case managers and social programs.

For Alarakhiya, putting the patient at the center of care is critical to improving care and outcomes, and to lowering healthcare costs.  She noted that while access to healthcare is better today than it was even five to ten years ago, healthcare costs continue to rise, easily outstripping levels of economic growth.

“Healthcare needs to begin with the patient at the center,” she said.   “Once you can determine all of a patient’s needs, then you can ensure an optimal care plan.  And at that point you can begin to address the overall unsustainability of the costs.”

On Wednesday, April 15, at the HIMSS15 Annual Conference & Exhibition, Farhana Alarakhiya will be discussing the details of IBM’s Smarter Care initiative at a HIMSS15 Lunch & Learn from 12:30-1:30 pm in room S504 A of the McCormick Place convention center.

Online registration is available.