Why the Quintuple Aim is key to transforming healthcare

Population health management can help overcome inequities in healthcare, employing a digital first, data first, platform-based, human-centric design.

This article is the first installment of a 3-part series. Read Part 2

It’s no secret that healthcare has challenges – from rising costs, disparities in access, workforce burnout and fragmented care delivery. The obstacles that are plaguing healthcare are multifaceted.

With these challenges comes an urgency to fix them. For decades, healthcare spending has been on an upward trajectory and causing budget strains at every level. Despite the rising investments, the returns are often disappointing, with inefficiencies, waste and preventable errors contributing to these ballooning costs.

Another critical challenge in healthcare is the fragmented nature of care delivery. Patients often find themselves navigating a disjointed maze during their care process with little coordination or continuity in care. COVID-19 has forced us to face inequities present in health outcomes head-on and look for solutions that go beyond traditional healthcare processes.

The “Triple Aim” was first coined by the Institute of Healthcare Improvement in 2007 with the objective to lower costs, improve health of communities and provide better care for patients. It became the foundation and first principle for accountable care organizations when they began their journey in 2012. Then, seven years later, came the “Quadruple Aim,” when a fourth aim was added to bring in focus on burnout and physician satisfaction.

Quintuple Aim as the North Star

True healthcare transformation cannot be realized without solving for health equity. Health disparities have existed for decades, mainly because many innovations and programs are not designed with health equity in mind. Because individuals without access to care are from socially marginalized groups, the current improvements risk widening the health disparities. The Quintuple Aim not only adds health equity as the fifth aim but is also intended to be a framework with a health equity first approach. Comprising five building blocks, it becomes increasingly evident why this paradigm shift is imperative for the survival and advancement of healthcare.

The building blocks of the Quintuple Aim

Lower costs of care. By streamlining processes, reducing waste, and leveraging technology, the aim is to lower the overall costs of healthcare delivery without compromising quality.

Better care for the patient. Putting the patient at the center of care ensures that healthcare services are tailored to meet individual needs, resulting in improved outcomes and satisfaction.

Improved health of communities. Recognizing that health outcomes are influenced by factors that go beyond clinical care, addressing social determinants of health will help promote wellness within communities.

Sustainable service model for care teams. It is essential to support healthcare professionals with the tools and resources needed to deliver high-quality care while avoiding burnout.

Equitable access to care for all. Healthcare access needs to be accessible and inclusive, regardless of socio-economic status, geography or other barriers.

To achieve the Quintuple Aim, several new principles must be embraced.

Data equity: Centralizing all data assets and democratizing its access is crucial for informed decision-making and improved health outcomes.

Cultural relevancy: Recognizing and respecting the diverse needs and perspectives of communities is essential for delivering effective care.

Provider networks and social health networks: Transforming healthcare providers into interconnected networks can enhance collaboration and support holistic care delivery.

Health equity and care quality: Ensuring that healthcare services are equitable and accessible to all is fundamental to achieving positive health outcomes.

Continuous improvement and collaboration: Embracing a mindset of continuous learning and collaboration is essential for driving ongoing progress and innovation.

The foundation for Quintuple Aim lies in building a population health management solution centered around the patient where care teams, providers and administrators can collaborate seamlessly within a trusted ecosystem that is driven by data.

Population health management as the solution

A robust population health management strategy becomes the core part of a multi-dimensional solution to achieving the Quintuple Aim. The most effective population health management approach adopts a digital first, data first, platform based, human-centric design that includes the following key components.

As we navigate this journey to our collective North Star, we recognize the importance of best practices such as knowing our population density, embracing a digital-first, data-first approach, forging partnerships, engaging consumers, centralizing data while decentralizing access, and continuously monitoring and measuring outcomes. This process and an all-round commitment to the Quintuple Aim, can drive meaningful change in healthcare.

Jessica Robinson is chief platform officer for The Garage.

This article is the first installment of a 3-part series. Read Part 2.

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