About This Blog

 

Sherri Dorfman, CEO, Stepping Stone Partners

Connected & Digital Health Innovation Specialist

My blog is designed to spotlight healthcare organizations with innovative uses of technology & data to drive Care Coordination, Collaboration & Patient Engagement.

These new approaches may influence your product & service roadmap, partnership and marketing strategies.

My Expertise: 

Over 18 years ago, I moved my focus from consumer-centric technologies in other industries (i.e. financial services, retail) to healthcare technology.  

While consulting, I leverage my extensive experience, knowledge and professional network to help companies make the right strategic product and marketing decisions. Services include: 

> Strategic Planning Market Review: Competitive Assessments, Partnership Evaluations. Workshop facilitation. Insight drives product, partnership and marketing strategies 

> Product Roadmap Planning: Product conceptualization, definition and validation through Marketing Research. Work Sessions for product suite planning with solutions from mergers, acquisitions, partnerships and purchases

> Strategic Product Marketing: Differentiated value proposition story incorporated into marketing & sales assets

Find out how I can help you. Call me at 508-655-6585. Email me at SDorfman@Stepping-Stone.net to set up an exploratory discussion. 

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    Entries in care collaboration (10)

    Mercy Hospital Engages & Educates Patients through a Medical Destination Program

    In October 2012, Mercy Hospital Springfield of Missouri, and two other health systems launched a Centers of Excellence program with a major retailer to provide spine care for associates and their family members covered by the company’s medical plans. When an associate chooses to receive care at a Center of Excellence, they do not pay any out-of-pocket costs. In addition, the retailer picks up the tab for travel, lodging and food for the patient and caregiver. Mercy was chosen based on three factors: ethics, quality and value. Mercy Hospital is a Stage 6 Hospital in the HIMSS Analytics EMR Adoption Model (EMRAM).

    The following October, Mercy Hospital Springfield added another contract with the Pacific Business Group on Health (PBGH), which includes large employers like Walmart and Lowe’s. This agreement established a Center of Excellence for knee and hip replacements.

    With patients coming in from other parts of the country for various procedures, it became apparent to Mercy that patients needed some information before arriving in Springfield, Missouri. “One of the challenges that we addressed was how to effectively deliver patient education and a good patient experience when the patient is not in front of us,” explained Pam Holt, director of Patient Education and Care Management at Mercy. “We needed a way to empower remote patients with information about what will happen and what to expect during their surgery. Easing patients’ anxiety and ensuring they are comfortable is a top priority for us.”

    Mercy selected EmmiEngage, a patient engagement solution which provides an interactive health information platform certified for Stage 2 Meaningful Use for Patient-Specific Education. Each patient in the Destination Program receives an email from Mercy. The email contains a unique link enabling access via the web or mobile to customized videos with simplified medical information. Patients can view the videos many times and share them with friends and family. “Some of our older patients may go to their adult children’s homes because they don’t have a computer or they just want to watch the video together,” said Holt. “Plus, the back-end system allows our clinicians to know if patients have reviewed the educational information. If they have not, we’ll reach out to ensure the patient gets that prior education and is prepared for surgery.”

    When traveling for care, it is particularly important for patients to prepare for discharge before hopping on the airplane. “For example, if their bedroom is upstairs, they may want to use a spare bedroom downstairs during their recovery,” Holt explains. “This information helps them think about their needs ahead of time. In fact, that’s good preparation for all of our patients, which is why we use this tool for patients who are local as well those who travel here.”

    EmmiEngage provides a personalized informative overview. It is not intended to take the place of conversations between the patient and their doctor, but instead supports the relationship between them. “At Mercy, we view the solution as a technology to relay ‘general treatment’ information in an approach that suits patients’ learning style. However, we know that each patient has a unique set of circumstances that will impact their surgery and only their doctor can deliver those specific instructions,” described Holt.

    Patient Related Measures

    Mercy greatly values patient feedback and the responses to the program reinforces the belief that this approach is working.

    “I was very impressed with the presentation!  It was most helpful.  Some things I already knew and it gave me some new ideas of what I can do to help myself.  I have a lot more questions I will be asking my doctor the next time I see him.”

    “The video was very informative and insightful. I feel I am going into this procedure with a better understanding of the procedure I am facing.”

    “Rather enjoyed knowing what will happen and the risk involved. Very helpful overall”.

    In addition to qualitative feedback, Mercy monitors specific patient related success measures. “We know that 85% of patients are consuming educational content through their portal.  Ten percent have asked questions and 15% have contacted their doctors after reviewing the educational information. From a patient experience standpoint, 80% of patients report that the portal programs answered questions that the patient would have asked their doctor,” Holt added.

    Mercy clinicians also value using technology to support patients prior to their surgery. “Patients who view a program are more prepared for their procedure and have a better understanding of their health. The benefit is two-fold: it pays off in saved clinic time and helps the patient feel more comfortable about their care,” concluded Dr. John Brown, Mercy Family and Travel Medicine.

    Patient education is a key component of Meaningful Use Stage 2 but also there is growing evidence that effective patient education can impact patient outcomes as well as improve patient engagement and satisfaction. Providing these tools for patients, whether remote or local, as part of a risk sharing agreement or through traditional reimbursement, is an effective approach to patient engagement.

    Mass General Hospital Drives Patient Engagement through Multi-Specialty TeleHealth 

    MGH TeleBurns TodayMassachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and parent organization Partners HealthCare have a long history in telemedicine and innovation. In 1967, Drs. Ken Bird and Jay Sanders were early pioneers in telemedicine, providing care to patients at Boston’s Logan Airport. The innovation continued in 1995 when Dr. Joe Kvedar founded the Partners Center for Connected Health (CCH). In 2001, Dr. Lee Schwamm launched the Partners TeleStroke Program, through which MGH and Brigham and Women's Hospital provide 24/7 TeleStroke care to 30+ community hospitals in New England. The program also enables other US hospitals to deliver TeleStroke services. 

    In 2011, MGH launched a small startup within the organization’s walls, a hospital-wide initiative called Massachusetts General Hospital TeleHealth. Building on the TeleStroke Program success and in partnership with CCH, the team is focused on achieving the goals of better, accountable, and affordable care for individual patients and populations using technology. The program enables clinicians across multiple specialties to provide high-quality, coordinated care to patients and families using familiar technology; phone, video, text, email, mobile apps and remote monitoring.

    MGH has successfully embedded telehealth into patient care in several specialty areas and believes telehealth to be a mode of care delivery to help achieve the triple aim. While 21 states and the District of Columbia have laws mandating telehealth coverage under health insurance plans, Massachusetts is not among them. Given the lack of payer reimbursement, MGH is committed to paying its clinicians to provide telehealth services to patients. However, for MGH and others to expand telehealth services, universal mechanisms for funding healthcare need to align to new models of healthcare delivery.

    MGH TELEHEALTH JOURNEY

    “In our early days, we were willing to try most anything, and have learned a lot through trial and error and close partnership with clinicians across the institution,” says Sarah Sossong, Director of the Mass General TeleHealth program.

    Building off the TeleStroke model, clinicians in Pediatrics, the Burn Center, and the Brain Tumor Program now offer emergency consults to clinicians treating patients in community hospitals.  Cardiac ICU attending physicians use a robot to virtually round on patients. Multidisciplinary teams in the MGH Cancer Center conduct virtual case conferences with community hospitals. Specialists in cardiology, dermatology, and neurology provide virtual curbside consults to MGH PCPs to facilitate timely and comprehensive medical advice. “By fostering innovation in multiple areas, our goal is to identify the ‘sweet spots’ for telehealth,” Sossong explains.

    The Mass General TeleHealth program continues to implement and expand virtual offerings. “Virtual visits” replace an in-person office visit using familiar technology like video and email on a smartphone, tablet, or computer.  Since launching in spring 2013, 50+ clinicians across five divisions have conducted more than 1,200 video-enabled virtual visits with existing MGH patients in their homes and other settings.  

    TelePsychiatry

    MGH TelePsychiatryMass General’s Department of Psychiatry was one of the first to launch video-enabled virtual visits to patients in the home, with a focus on children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder under the clinical leadership of Dr. Janet Wozniak , associate director of the Bressler Program for Autism Spectrum Disorders at MGH and director of the Child and Adolescent Outpatient Psychiatry service. Dr. Wozniak calls virtual visits an “outstanding addition” to her clinical practice. Following autism pilot success, virtual visits rolled out with patients across 20+ disease conditions including depression, anxiety, and ADHD.  “One surprising finding has been that patients who spoke very little during office visits have become more open and able to discuss their symptoms via video,” explains Wozniak. 

    TeleNeurology

    MGH TeleNeurologyMass General’s Department of Neurology has been an early adopter of virtual visits for patients with benign conditions like migraines, and others for which long-distance travel can be challenging (i.e. Lou Gehrig's disease, stroke, multiple sclerosis, muscle diseases, movement disorders, seizures).

    Dr. Adam Cohen, TeleNeurology and Neurology’s inpatient director, comments that “virtual visits allow us to see our patients from every corner of the state.  The ease of virtual visits offers huge benefits to our patients who no longer have to trek into Boston and also for our patients who have difficulty traveling. Virtual visits also make it easier to check-in with our patients, often for just a few minutes.”

    TeleCardiology

    MGH TeleCardiologyDr. Stephanie Moore in Mass General’s Heart Center has been pioneer of telehealth through her work in remote monitoring for Heart Failure patients with CCH. Remote monitoring has become standard practice for many heart failure patients discharged home. Dr. Moore has incorporated virtual visits into patient care to facilitate patient education by her nursing team and is exploring how virtual visits can work with other virtual tools like remote monitoring.

    Dr. Ami Bhatt, a specialist in treating adult congenital heart disease, has found virtual visits enhance patient care. “My patients are busy and often live several hours away.  A quick visit to review test results ends up being costly, and a call is not enough to explain results and educate patients to be their own advocates.”  With virtual visits, Dr. Bhatt walks patients through their heart images and test results.  

    TeleBurns

    At the MGH Burn Center, Dr. Shawn Fagan developed a successful program providing follow-up care to patients at Boston’s Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.   The program has benefited many patients including Boston Marathon bombing survivors treated at MGH and subsequently treated at Spaulding. With Spaulding’s telemedicine nurse, the patient connects to the TeleBurns team with a virtual visit instead of a trip to MGH.

    One patient shared that “staying in contact with Dr. Fagan from the convenience of Spaulding was huge. It was like talking to him face-to-face. He had the equipment to see me, make decisions and treat me.” 

    MGH TELEHEALTH SUCCESS EVALUTATION

    Healthcare providers at MGH and elsewhere have shown that telehealth lowers costs when compared with traditional in-office visits. There is also a significant improvement in patient access to medical expertise, convenience, and care quality through collaborative care opportunities that otherwise would not exist in specific clinical case scenarios.

    In the first few years, the MGH TeleHealth team worked on building and implementing scalable technology platforms and integration with existing clinical workflows. “The past year has been focused on feasibility and adoption by patients and clinicians, and feedback from both groups has been overwhelmingly positive. As we continue to expand the program, long-term sustainability is our top priority,” says Sossong.

    Patient Experience & Satisfaction:

    Overall, patient feedback about the telehealth experience has been very positive. The clinical team has learned that virtual visits are most successful with patients who have frequent touch points with the healthcare system or who are geographically distant.

    “The virtual visits have helped me save on gas, parking, and still achieve what we want to achieve”, shares one telehealth patient. With virtual visits, “I have my doctor in my living room, and I feel like we're a team.”

     “Our early surveys show high rates of satisfaction and willingness to pay,” Sossong adds. “While there aren’t any national benchmarks for patient satisfaction with telehealth, we have patient feedback on virtual visits around quality, privacy, ease of use of the technology, and satisfaction (i.e. CAHPS). While it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison, initial patient feedback about the virtual visit experience in selected domains reflects higher satisfaction rates than in-person visits.”

    Clinician and Department Experience:

    Clinicians across multiple programs have also found that virtual visits allow them to stay focused on delivering patient -centered care.

    Specialists providing follow-up care for patients discharged to Boston’s Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital typically take the shuttle between MGH in Boston and Spaulding.  By enabling MGH specialists to conduct virtual visits with patients at Spaulding, patients receive more timely clinical care, and specialists have additional time to see patients in clinic, instead of sitting on a shuttle.

    One high-volume medical practice reported that patients receiving care through virtual visits were more likely to show up for their scheduled appointments, reducing the overall no-show rate for the department. The practice manager explains, “Like anything, it takes time to learn a new way of doing things, but we’re excited to see how virtual visits become incorporated into standard medical care as clinicians and patients become increasingly comfortable with the technology and processes”. 

    FUTURE TELEHEALTH DIRECTION

    The MGH TeleHealth team is developing plans to expand the program in 2015. “In the coming year, our goal for video-enabled virtual visits is to more fully integrate them into the standard practice of care by deepening adoption in existing departments and expanding to new departments. In the future, there are a number of exciting possibilities,” says Sossong.

    Multiple Modalities: “While there is tremendous value in interventions using a single technology, such as video-enabled virtual visits, I’m eager to explore how we can design a seamless, convenient, patient-friendly experience by putting all the pieces together. For example, a patient being treated by a psychiatrist for depression could have a treatment plan which includes using an app for tracking mood changes throughout the day, receiving text reminders about medication or an upcoming appointment, exchanging emails with the clinician about symptoms in between visits and conducting a video-enabled virtual visit for therapy, or checking in on medication symptoms. When it’s necessary to be ‘touched’ by the healthcare team, the patient can come into the office for an in-person office visit.”

     Patient Education: “While our current work is focused on everything that goes into making the video-enabled virtual visit happen, there’s interest in exploring related educational tools for patients as well. For example, a recording of the virtual visit, or even the in-person visit, could be helpful as an educational tool for patients and families to review once settled back home. I can envision a future where we’ll discharge surgery patients with online portal access to a recording of their own clinician’s instructions for post-operative care, which could be one of a suite of tailored educational tools including condition specific videos or articles, or even seasonal tools for things like cold/flu season.”

    The MGH TeleHealth team is determined to identify where telehealth can work to bring care access, convenience, and education to patients. “People bank online, shop online and Skype with family and friends online. Patients will start to expect to receive healthcare this way too,” Sossong concludes.

    Geisinger Takes Mobile Patient Engagement to the Next Level

    Geisinger has been investing in mobile technologies to engage patients and their families in their care since 2011. In my blog post last year, I shared Geisinger’s texting programs, mobile data capture and experiences with their first mobile app to support Cardiac Rehab.

    Geisinger continues to explore new technologies to involve patients and to improve the patient and physician interaction.  “Mobile apps are just another way to drive patient engagement. We think we will have better adoption by patients if we use technology that they have already adopted in their lives”, explains Chanin Wendling, Director, eHealth, Geisinger Health System. “Our goals are to improve patient outcomes and reduce costs.  We pursue patient engagement because of studies from folks like Hibbard & Greene 2013 and Veroff & Wennberg 2013 that show that engaged patients have better outcomes at lower costs.  We want to provide patients with tools that help them understand their condition and follow their care plans so they can stay as healthy as possible.”

    Piloting Mobile App Supporting Bariatric Surgery 

    Geisinger Get 2 Goal Mobile AppGeisinger began piloting their second mobile app Get~2~Goal in September, 2012 to help manage patients’ surgical weight loss expectation and provide a journal for tracking weight loss after the surgery. The Get~2~Goal app presents the patient with personalized weight management goals using her own entered data (e.g. age, weight, height). She can monitor her weight loss towards that goal and see how she is doing compared with other patients like her. 

    The app was developed by Geisinger’s Obesity Institute in collaboration with Bucknell University’s computer science staff and students. 

    Patients have shared positive comments including:

       “Great App! Surgery on Tuesday, so this will be a great motivator”

       “I like it. It's very helpful and lets you know whether you're on the right track or not weight wise. So far I'm doing above average. Woo hoo to us!”

    The clinical sponsor for the Get~2~Goal project was Dr. Christopher Still, Director of Geisinger Obesity Institute and Medical Director for the Center for Nutrition & Weight Management. He uses the app when discussing bariatric surgery with his patients and, recommends that they download it to their mobile devices. Dr. Still has observed an improved patient/physician interaction when a patient sets realistic weight loss expectations with the guidance of the clinician. “This app allows patients and their physicians to discuss patient specific outcomes regarding gastric bypass surgery. It is important for both the patient and their physician to have real expectations and assess the risk/ benefit of the procedure.”

    Building Mobile Apps Ourselves

    In addition to experimenting with Cardiac Rehab and Get~2~Goal apps, Geisinger wants to expand into apps for different chronic conditions and set out to research the market. “We were disappointed with what we found. Most vendors had apps focused only on one chronic condition. Although vendors had plans to expand into other chronic conditions, we had a hard time picking a reasonable partner based on their stated direction”, Wendling explains.

    Wendling feels the mobile health app market is still in the early stages. She explains that vendors are approaching her organization with a business model that just doesn’t scale. “If a vendor charges us a rate of $10+ per member per month, how do we make that work for patients with multiple conditions? We have over 75,000 patients with hypertension and 30,000+ with asthma. Although the app will not be appropriate for all of these patients, the costs add up rather quickly.”

    After evaluating many mobile apps, Wendling points out that the patient experience is not thought through. She has asked vendors about how patients can personalize their app.  “I may be a patient who works night hours so why shouldn’t I be able to set the time of the reminders to fit my schedule? Also, why can’t I select the method of receiving the reminders, through email or text messages”, adds Wendling.

    The final reason that Geisinger has decided to build mobile apps internally is because integration is important. “We’ve found that many solutions do not integrate with our EMR which is essential since we need to incorporate the patient information into our clinical workflow” Wendling explains. “Although it is not unusual that the early innovated apps do not integrate with the EMR, vendors do recognize that they need to get there.  So any app we purchase, we would most likely have to do the integration ourselves anyway.  We haven’t made any decisions that we will always develop our own apps.  If we see something out in the marketplace that works and we have the budget, we will go for it.  We just may need to wait a little longer until the marketplace matures.”

    Mobile App Development Journey

    As their first venture into internal mobile app development, Geisinger selected a simple procedure and defined key capabilities which are replicable across more complex procedures. With the new Colonoscopy mobile app scheduled to be launched next month, patients can prepare for their procedure through: 

    • Education: explains what will happen during the procedure
    • Shopping: lists can be created and transferred as a note to the mobile phone
    • Reminders: for days before the procedure directing the patients to steps that need to be done
    • Pictures: visual guides of their bowel movement during the preparation process

     “Geisinger’s colonoscopy mobile app is unique among health care related apps in that it provides a personalized experience for the patient.  From prep instructions based on scheduled appointment time, interactive ’am I ready for my procedure’ section to the ability to easily set reminders/alerts; this app takes advantage of a lot that mobile technology has to offer.  As a gastroenterologist, my hope is that this app will allow patients to feel more empowered and in control of their bowel preparation; typically the most difficult part of the colonoscopy experience. We know that with improved prep comes better outcomes and thereby, over time, lives saved. I feel that modern health care needs to embrace mobile technology as a rapidly growing and exciting tool to improve patient care”, explains Dr. Amitpal S Johal, Director of Endoscopy, Geisinger Medical Center.

    “We are looking into other surgical procedures which can use this same set of capabilities. One area that we are considering is Vascular surgeries since we work closely with our Vascular department at Geisinger”, shares Wendling. 

    Future Mobile Health Roadmap

    As they look to the future, Geisinger is working on enhancing current mobile apps and is exploring the use of mobile to support patient care before, during and after a hospital visit.

    The next version of the Get~2~Goal app is under development. Geisinger is improving the patient experience through a better user navigation, the capability for patients to enter their own weight loss goals, and the addition of recently developed calculations for other bariatric surgery outcomes (i.e. likelihood for remission of diabetes).

    Geisinger is also looking into ways that mobile devices and apps can help patients pre, during and post hospital stay. They are starting with their Janet Weis Children’s Hospital which treats kids with complex conditions such as cancer, heart or neurological issues. Geisinger understands that being in the hospital is scary for the child and their family. “With mobile apps, children and their parents will be able to prepare for the surgery, use an iPad during their hospital visit to capture pain levels and then track their recovery at home”, describes Wendling.

    In the future, Geisinger is planning for a personalized patient experience. “Our dream is to be tailored in our patient care.  Given the patient’s profile, s/he will have technology options and tools to gather preferences and schedules to guide the care plan. We want to use this information to also match the appropriate intervention”, Wendling concludes.

    Sharp Healthcare Uses Interactive Patient Care Technology to “Meaningfully” Engage Patients

    Sharp HealthCare, a Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award winner, continues to provide a superior patient experience by investing in technologies to bring better care to patients and their families.

    Last October, Sharp Memorial Hospital, a Sharp HealthCare hospital, began piloting GetWellNetwork's Interactive Patient WhiteBoard™ in their cardiology unit to communicate and collaborate with patients and their families about their care throughout their stay.

    "Our goals for the pilot were to engage patients in their care, deliver information they need, help them understand their treatment plan, provide a way for them to interact with their care team and prepare for their discharge,"  explains Verna Sitzer, MN, RN, CNS, Manager, Nursing Innovation and Performance Excellence at Sharp Memorial Hospital.

    Patients use the Whiteboard to learn about their care team, their day (i.e. goals, schedule, discharge activities) and participate in the personalized communication area to journal and share information. Patients use their Whiteboard to see tasks that need to be completed such as viewing educational videos that have been ordered and filling in a discharge planning questionnaire. A summary of the patient’s education activity and discharge information is accessible to the care team for review and follow up.

    Sharp uses GetWellNetwork’s Interactive Patient Whiteboard to help care providers engage, educate and empower patients along the care continuum. This patient-centered platform, delivered across mobile devices, computers and televisions, enables Sharp to implement a new care delivery model called Interactive Patient Care (IPC). Based on the premise that a more engaged patient is a satisfied patient with better outcomes, GetWellNetwork’s IPC combines the tools, process and people to activate patients in their care, transform clinical practice and advance key performance measures.

    Pilot Insights

    During the Whiteboard pilot, the Sharp team learned about the importance of enabling better communication between the care providers and patients. "Our patients wanted to have critical information and to be able to write down questions for the care team for a more meaningful interaction. Knowing what to expect and when to expect it is important for patients so we made this a priority in the design of the display,” adds Sitzer

    One of Sharp Healthcare's big accomplishments was to connect the Interactive Patient Care solution to their EMR to capture the patient's engagement and document progress towards their discharge education plan. “Having this connection was an essential condition for launching the technology throughout the healthcare system. Providers are able to integrate patient education into their daily workflow using the EMR for ordering education videos and obtaining results of the education”,  explains Sitzer

    Sharp Healthcare is in the process of rolling out the Interactive Patient Care solution to their other hospitals. Sharp Grossmont hospital implemented it early this year (February) and Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women and Newborns will begin this summer (July).

    Sharp & Patient Engagement Framework

    Last Fall, National eHealth Collaborative (NeHC) launched their Patient Engagement Framework. The Patient Engagement Framework is designed to guide providers along the path for meaningful use. Sharp Memorial Hospital has adopted this framework to further enhance the Interactive Patient Care Solution. Sitzer shares examples below and describes ways they are enabling patients to participate in the care process.

       Stage 1: Inform Me

    'We use the Interactive Patient Care solution to send the patient messages about what we need them to do during their stay so they can play an active role in their recovery.  We have them watch a video on hospital safety when they are admitted and recommend other relevant educational information. We ask them if they would like to take a self-assessment of their risk for falling and provide them with a video about fall prevention”, describes Sitzer.

       Stage 2: Engage Me

    Sharp Healthcare puts their patients in the driver’s seat and gives them the option of when they would like to be engaged.  Sharp has devised pathways to deliver and gather information from the patient. The 'discharge pathway' presents a set of questions when the patient is preparing for home to determine if there are obstacles that need to be addressed and confirm that all educational information has been viewed and understood.  "Our motto is 'when the learner is ready, the teacher will appear’," shares Sitzer. "We want to give our patients control over their recovery."

       Stage 3: Empower Me

    By giving patients the information that they need, Sharp empowers them to participate in the care planning process, enabling them to ask questions of and provide answers to the care team. For example, patients are able to respond to assessment questions, message providers or services about their needs, or respond to focused surveys on their care or service experience. Their responses notify a provider to deliver patient and family- centered care.

       Stage 4: Partner with Me

    Care pathways can be tailored to meet various health conditions such as heart failure management.  These modules rely on the patient partnering with providers to meet specific goals. For example within the heart failure module, patients must complete certain videos and comprehension questions to move to the next module or phase so that they get the necessary education and preparation for discharge.

       Stage 5: Support my e-Community

    The Sharp Healthcare team is planning to use the Interactive Patient Care system to support patients after they leave the hospital. "We are working on ways we can use this system to provide the patient with personalized education information when home through online and mobile channels," explains Sitzer.

    In the future, Sharp Healthcare would like to tie in health-related devices to gather and monitor information about the patient to provide support or to intervene when needed.

    Central Indiana Beacon Community’s Pilots Leverage Remote Monitoring Technologies to Successfully Engage Patients

    As 2013 begins, all seventeen Beacon Community initiatives are finishing up their pilot programs. In the coming months, these communities will be reporting on their results.

    For my blog, I’ve focused in on one Beacon Community to share their story and insights about using technology to engage patients through two successful remote monitoring pilots. I also wanted to share their plans for expanding capabilities to engage patients in future pilots.  

    Dr Alan Snell, CMIO at St Vincent Health was in on the grant writing for the Central Indiana Beacon Community back in early 2010. HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) awarded their Beacon Community over $16 million for several projects including remote home monitoring.

    December 2010, Dr Snell and his team launched their first remote monitoring project designed to reduce the 30- day readmission rate for patients with a discharge diagnosis of CHF and/or COPD. January 2012, Dr Snell expanded the remote monitoring to include another pilot targeting patients with complex chronic management (i.e. 6+ chronic conditions) who were high risk and high resource utlizers. 

    Pilot Remote Monitoring Technologies

    Patients in both remote monitoring pilots used the same tools and resources but their access to them varied. Since the first pilot was designed to keep them out of the hospital based on CMS guidelines, patients were randomized after signing consents to participate in the remote monitoring program for 30 days. As a side note, since the Central Indiana Beacon Community is connected to the Indiana Health Exchange (IHIE), they will be able to effectively evaluate whether the patient was readmitted to any of the area hospitals. 

    For the pilots, patients were given an electronic health guide to place in their home to help monitor and manage their health. On a daily basis, patients interacted with this small wireless mobile device to answer six questions (i.e. fatigue, pain level, shortness of breath, etc) and provide additional requested information based on their responses. Patients also measured their vitals using a Bluetooth scale and a blood pressure cuff and some were asked to use a Bluetooth pulse oximeter. Each patient participated in scheduled video conference calls with their assigned nurse to address questions and enable the nurse to see how the patient was really doing. 

    Pilot Insights: Patient eHealth Engagement 

    The Central Indiana Beacon Community chose the remote monitoring technology for their pilots back in 2010. The device they selected was essentially “first generation” and cost around $2,000 each. Today, similar devices cost around $500 each and have more functionality to support the patient with collecting their health data and communicating with their clinicians and care team. 

    During the remote monitoring pilots, The Central Indiana Beacon Community gained insight into how technology supported and improved patient care: 

    Impact of Video Conference with Nurse: The Central Indiana Beacon Community utilized a wireless device that delivered 3G video conferencing capabilities. “We were interested in testing more than just the conferencing technology in our pilot. We wanted to determine whether the technology enabled the nurse to create a personal connection with the patient and motivate them for better outcomes”, explains Dr Snell.

    “The video conferencing capability helped our nurses build a trusted relationship with the patient”, adds Julia Smalley, MBA, RN, Director, Innovations Accelerator Team at Ascension Health Alliance. “During the video conference session, our nurse did a visual assessment and was to ask further questions to uncover why the patient didn’t look right. When the patient appeared confused, the nurse provided a more detailed explanation. We’ve noticed that this personal connection leads to a better relationship which means better compliance since the patient feels more compelled to do what is right”. 

    Value of Patient Experience Information: The remote monitoring guide gathered information from the patient (e.g. six daily questions) about how they were feeling to both capture trending information as well as determine if an early intervention was needed. “We’ve found that collecting self reported experience data on a daily basis alerted us to respond faster than if we waited for problems to appear in their vitals”, emphasized Dr Snell.  

    “We set up a flag to alert us when we received certain answers from the patient. This way we were able to reach out immediately before there was a further decline”, adds Smalley. She further stressed the strong value of using the patient’s experience information as a “teachable moment” to help the patient understand his trigger points and explain why he was feeling that way. 

    Value of Patient Education Tools: Within the wireless guide, patients were able to view any of the seventeen imbedded videos to learn about how to better care for their chronic conditions, the importance of proper diet and exercise, when to contact their provider, etc. “Our nurses also directed the patient to a specific video when she saw out of range biometrics, concerning answers to the health questions or an education need during the scheduled video conferences,” shares Smalley. 

    Future: Patient & Family eHealth Engagement 

    The Central Indiana Beacon Community pilot has ended. However, St. Vincent Health and Ascension Health Alliance have formed a joint venture and are incorporating the pilot learnings into development of a Remote Care Management Program

    “Although extensive analysis is underway, we are already planning our remote monitoring initiatives which will focus on the same two patient populations from the pilots (e.g. 30- day discharge, complex chronic patients). We are investing in a new care management platform which will enable us to capture and share patient monitoring information. Patients, their families and Providers will be able to log into a portal to view vital sign measurements, care plan compliance and communicate with the care team about any concerns,” explains Dr. Snell.

    Since patient education is so important, the platform supporting the new Remote Care Management Program will have more content and capabilities including the ability for the patient to take teach back quizzes as well as notes to share with care givers. Physicians will be able to monitor their patient’s education and quiz results since it will be placed in the electronic medical record. This will guide the physician to have better conversations with their patients and provide needed support.  

    During the pilot, the care team heard about the patient’s interest in getting their family members involved to support their daily lifestyle decisions such as helping them read food labels and understand how diet impacts their health. 
     
    “We will be able to use our portal and mobile technologies to provide ongoing education to patients and their families and provide access to a skilled clinicians 24x7, which will significantly extend access beyond our pilot”, adds Dr Snell. 

    “As we think about using mobile in future pilots, we are considering the ability of our patients to use technology. Some of our younger and tech savvy patients will be able to use a smart phone to record their measures and access educational content while our older patients will feel more comfortable using a mobile tablet to watch videos and respond to questions”, explains Smalley. 

    Dr Snell and his team are using the pilot insights to define their care management platform requirements to support the Remote Monitoring Program. Based on what I’ve learned about their technology direction, they are incorporating three key engagement elements into the design of their platform. First, they are providing the patient with the tool set and skills to help them self manage with ongoing reinforcement from the care team. Second, they are developing a solution with integrated tools and information to support “connected health”. Their remote monitoring data will be connected into a care management platform to share information with across the care team and family members, which supports meaningful use. Third, they are planning to incorporate technologies to meet the needs of their different patient segments and are carefully considering how each will use the online and mobile capabilities. This will be an important engagement driver since patients need to feel comfortable using technology to collect their health data, and collaborate with their care givers on their personalized care plan.