Improving the quality of care is a universal goal within the healthcare industry. Often, that goal is hindered by the number of siloed or proprietary technology systems that clinicians and patients must muddle through when seeking treatment.
Interoperability issues within the healthcare community are often one of the main culprits standing between healthcare providers trying to help their patients and the accessibility of medical history data that commonly helps define quality of care. In short, access to healthcare data is a necessary component to improving patient care. Data accessibility also drives other important factors such as patient satisfaction.
Studies by the National Institutes of Health show that patients not only like to see their health records, but doing so can also help them better understand their treatment plans. And having access to their records also leads to a greater commitment to adhering to those plans for most patients.
Extending the electronic health record (EHR) to an affiliate through a partnership is one way for more hospitals and clinics of all shapes and sizes to provide greater access of data to their patients and to other organizations within their healthcare communities. The ability to leverage tools and technology through affiliation leads to continuous quality improvement and can reduce the costs that stem from larger hospitals that implemented EHRs.
Collaborating and integrating EHR systems within an affiliate network can also lead to increased access to care and real-time diagnosis rates, improved treatment plans and reduced patient hospital stays. Hospitals hosting or extending access to the EHR can also benefit from the added patients who can now more easily access their records within their facilities.
So How Does Affiliation Work?
One easy way to think of affiliation is to think of a relationship diagram, like the radial list below. The large circle on the left represents the host looking to expand its reach and coverage, increase revenue and/or mitigate the burden of the EHR costs by allowing affiliate hospitals and clinics access to their EHR system.
The host, in looking to expand access to their EHR, needs to consider the main drivers behind wanting to become a host or vendor, and in doing so the host needs to determine whether they are interested in acquiring, or simply partnering, with the affiliate hospitals and clinics. The decision of acquisition versus partnership can often depend on several factors such as the geographic locations of the affiliates relative to the host as well as the perceived return on investment of each scenario.
On the affiliate side, they need to consider their interests and organizationally strategic reasons for wanting to become an affiliate of the larger host. Oftentimes, increased patient services and improved brand recognition by affiliating with a larger institution are common reasons why such a move is considered.
Both groups, hosts and affiliates, can better execute their EHR strategies if they share common reasons for partnering. For example, both groups should have improved patient care as their primary objective, followed by individual business concerns.
Ultimately, the consumer or patient is the only factor that becomes a part of every encounter that either the affiliate or the host has, and patients with 100 percent information awareness are better able to partner with all their caregivers. In the end, the most important thing about an effective affiliate program is its ability to quickly find the best options to successfully treat those patients.