Those results are particularly useful because Partners HealthCare is a Pioneer ACO. Kvedar says he is certain the health system will be able to show that not only can technology keep patients healthy and out of "brick-and-mortar" clinics, but also can help hospitals drive down costs to accommodate bundled payments, the PPACA, and payment caps. "You can't keep hiring people, that's 60% of our cost—labor. So, if you keep hiring people, you're not going to bend the cost curve. And, the technology is such that we can extend providers across larger numbers of patients."
Kvedar's use of technology and analysis of patient data has benefits beyond the balance sheet. His patient groups embrace things like uploading their blood glucose levels to an online program that is shared by doctors and nurses for diabetes management. Instead of feeling cheated that they didn't get any "facetime" with a doctor, the patients feel like they have a "hotline."
"Let's face it, we, in healthcare, have set up a system where we're hard to get to; we're hard to interact with; we're not really customer friendly. I can't call any doctor's office customer friendly, and these technologies give consumers and patients a way to directly connect and they tend to love it," he says.
One of the biggest cultural shifts has to come from doctors themselves. Kvedar says they have to let go of their traditional role of sole caretaker and hand over some control to patients.