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Drive better outcomes with a strong patient-provider relationship


The bond between a patient and their primary care provider is crucial for achieving the best health care results.

Patient-provider relationships are vital: ©SydaProductions - stock.adobe.com

Patient-provider relationships are vital: ©SydaProductions - stock.adobe.com

The bond between a patient and their primary care provider (PCP) is crucial for achieving the best health care results.

An analysis from Arcadia found that the top quartile of Medicare Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) has a 29% higher rate of PCP visits compared to organizations with lower performance. A separate analysis looked at patients with a low or no PCP relationship and found that they have less consistent management and documentation of chronic conditions and lower quality gap closure rates. Additionally, patients with a single provider relationship have an average of 22% lower rates of emergency department visits, including avoidable visits, compared to patients with multiple provider relationships.

The data is clear: a strong relationship between a single patient and a single provider improves utilization, risk and quality gap closure, and cost efficiency. Strong PCP engagement also improves patient outcomes while strengthening the performance of health systems.

Health care organizations that want to maximize performance and bend the cost curve must answer several key questions: How do you drive impactful patient-provider relationships? How do you identify impactable patients or providers and effectively engage them?

The answer lies in data analytics.

How strong patient-provider relationships bend the cost curve

Often, primary care physicians serve as a “bridge” between a patient and their entire care team, by keeping a finger on the pulse of their patients’ health and ensuring that patients get the care they need. Strengthening patients’ relationships with a PCP helps value-based care organizations by:

  1. Consistently managing chronic diseases and providing opportunities to prevent complications and incur costs through avoidable admissions and costly procedures
  2. Allowing a single provider who is knowledgeable about the patient’s health history to document conditions with greater accuracy and address care gaps, including risk coding accuracy and quality measure performance.

Supporting patients in engaging with their care plans, thereby boosting long-term health outcomes

Three ways to build stronger patient-provider relationships with data analytics

  • Gather Data and Collect Information: Before you can drive better outcomes and strengthen relationships, you need to identify the patients and providers you hope to impact. Data analytics enable health care organizations to zero in on patients with high avoidable ED utilization, care gaps, and other conditions that make them particularly impactable. Knowing which patients utilize services often, particularly on an emergency basis, is the first step in engaging them for health interventions. Once health care organizations have a clear sense of which patient demographics to target, they can take active steps to strengthen the provider-patient relationship.
  • Engage Patients with Outreach: Use proactive outreach, like automated text messaging, to engage patients who aren't regularly seeing their PCPs. Use analytics to identify groups of patients with weak relationships or care gaps to do bulk, automated outreach, then follow up with personalized outreach.
  • Monitor, Measure, Adjust, Optimize: Utilization-based metrics can look specifically at primary care, classifying patients as a single provider relationship if they received at least 75% of their primary care services from the same provider. This allows organizations to gauge where particular providers rank on patient loyalty, on a scale from very low to extremely high. Once health care organizations identify low to moderate performers, they can equip them with the tools they need to build stronger relationships. This could involve training providers in better communication and engagement strategies, and enrolling patients in systems that support continuity of care, such as care management.

Patients, Providers, and Data: Strength in Partnership

The data is clear: strong patient-provider relationships are essential for better health outcomes and managing healthcare costs. By using data analytics and outreach tools, health care organizations can identify and engage patients with weak PCP relationships, ensuring they get continuous, coordinated care. Acting on information can help health care organizations drive better provider performance, increase patient satisfaction, and lower costs. The path to better health care starts with fostering a relationship between two individuals — and millions of data points let you take the first step.

Anna Basevich is senior vice president, Enterprise Partnerships and Customer Enablement, at Arcadia.

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