How value-based care technology can help fix toxic positivity in healthcare

The healthcare industry is distinct in terms of its obstacles and the stakes that make overcoming those obstacles so vital. For instance, you may have the growing higher-acuity senior citizen population (obstacle). But there’s still an imperative to maintain that population’s health and wellness (stakes).

This combination lays the groundwork for toxic positivity – a belief that one should solely focus on what’s going well and reject any emotion or event that challenges this focus.

In the face of clear challenges (e.g., provider shortages, higher acuity patients, and rising costs) a desire to focus on the “good” is understandable. But as Dr. Joshua Russell writes in The Journal of Urgent Care Medicine, even something seemingly encouraging, like a positive patient review promoted by your network’s administrators, can be toxically positive.

That review might make clinicians feel good, of course. And it’s likely well-earned. But what’s the real impact of focusing on a review when hospitals remain understaffed and clinicians continue to be overworked?

Ultimately, toxic positivity deprioritizes patient needs in service of affirming the status quo – and those who uphold it. And without value-based efforts to prioritize population-level outcomes, the practice threatens to remain a problem throughout healthcare. 

But toxic positivity doesn’t have to remain a fixture. In this blog, we highlight the benefits of adopting value-based care technology – and detail three ways physician-led, patient-centered teams can foster a better environment for staff and patients.

1. Establish more valuable connections with patients

In a toxically positive culture, executives often approach improving care from a quantitative rather than qualitative standpoint. It’s about increasing the number of connections with patients, not necessarily the value of those connections, i.e., “How do we deliver more value? By delivering more care!”

While providing care is unquestionably important, this logic doesn’t directly address a core element of value-based care: the patient experience. It doesn’t incentivize stakeholders to improve care practices; it reinforces existing practices.

That’s why a comprehensive value-based care system helps move the needle. It gives networks, care organizations, and clinicians the patient data they need to develop or hone an effective population health strategy. In real terms, this data might uncover a need to improve medication reconciliation by highlighting that patients experience increased odds of hospitalization after starting or stopping prescriptions.

The RxLive platform also offers a blueprint to deepen the impact of patient care. With RxLive.Ai, your care teams can extract data from Surescripts and EHRs, run analytics on that data, and use the resulting insights to identify which patients benefit most from certain forms of treatment. The result: better patient experiences and greater impactability.

2. Break down communication silos between care teams

Another feature of toxically positive workplace cultures? Siloed communication. And the more isolated individual clinicians – and even whole teams – become, the lower the chances that providers will notice fundamental issues with care delivery. 

For example, let’s say there’s a CMO who plans to scale their organization’s cardiology practice. Sounds good in theory, right? But there’s a wrinkle. The cardiology teams are already strapped for time. They don’t (and won’t) have the bandwidth to activate patients via proactive outreach. And because the CMO is so far removed from the frontlines of their healthcare organization, they don’t see how their plan overextends the cardiology teams. They just see the possibility of treating more patients.

What’s more: a toxically positive culture also discourages constructive criticism. Why? These types of conversations, by definition, offer critique and may focus, in part, on a “failure.” Often, department heads don’t want to bear the brunt of that weight as they fight for funding and resources.

So how do you repair your culture? Bridge communication gaps and proactively act on the information you gather. As illustrated in the cardiology example above, care teams often endure burdensome workloads in toxically positive environments. But with value-based care technology, you can build vertically integrated workflows that…

  • Relieve physician workloads.
  • Tackle medication adherence barriers.
  • Drive down hospitalization and readmission rates.

These positive changes, of course, don’t happen overnight. It takes time for providers to embrace interdisciplinary collaboration. But the benefits are clear. Plus, the same systems that streamline interdepartmental communication also help providers correspond with patients more efficiently and impactfully.

3. Build out consistent quality care measurement frameworks

A running theme in this blog – and to mending a toxically positive culture – is getting people on the same page. And when it comes to healthcare, that means establishing clear analytical frameworks for your patient data.

We’ve previously highlighted the significance of HEDIS, CMS star ratings, and how both quality measures are directly tied to patient health outcomes. But to provide accurate documentation – whether for reimbursement or to internally gauge a new protocol’s efficacy – you need the right value-based care technology.

With RxLive, your clinical teams (or the fractional network of pharmacists that can help deload their burden of care) can, for example, document the HEDIS measures for comprehensive diabetes care, which include:

  • Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) testing.
  • Blood pressure control.
  • LDL cholesterol control.
  • Eye exams.

This type of documentation doesn’t just help drive revenue. It also helps ensure your clinicians have visibility into patient regimens, prescriptions, underlying conditions, and adherence barriers. That visibility helps bridge communication gaps and leads to greater patient satisfaction – a pivotal factor for HEDIS scores and CMS ratings.

Value-based care is a patient-centered practice

In many ways, toxic positivity is the fear of failure. That fear isn’t unfounded. But it can erode the quality of care your patients receive.

To meaningfully improve the patient experience, healthcare organizations must open themselves up to innovative processes and technology. And that means opening yourself up to a level of risk once you adopt those systems. After all, even in the best of cases, it takes time to effectively deploy new platforms.

This is why finding a tech partner that can help you mitigate risk is so vital. You don’t have to innovate on your own. (In fact, we’d argue that you shouldn’t.) Undoing toxic positivity is a massive undertaking in its own right. When you have tech partners that share your mission and prioritize the patient, it becomes much easier to tackle that toxic positivity culture while delivering value-based care.

Interested in learning more about how RxLive can help you recommit to your patients and your value-based care approach? Get in touch or sign up for our newsletter.

Kristen Engelen, PharmD
Kristen Engelen, PharmD, is the chief pharmacy officer of RxLive and a certified consultant pharmacist; she has over a decade of experience in retail pharmacy settings. Kristen became an RxLive co-founder because of her passion for geriatric pharmacy, with a focus on the intersection of pharmacy and aging.