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.

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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 mobile health and wellness texting (13)

    Intelligent, On- Demand Healthcare Concierge Provides Personalized Patient Experience

     

    It all started with a simple question one day, and grew into a trusted health relationship a few short months later. Sarah was very busy at work that crisp fall morning and had only a few minutes to log in and ask about her daughter’s diabetes medication. Sarah was comforted by the response and a bit intrigued when her Health Assistant Harriet introduced herself and explained that she is a resource to help her and her family with any of her health questions or concerns. They began a conversation about her daughter’s condition and a trusted relationship began.

    Later that week Harriet made a follow up call to see if Sarah was able to pick up her daughter’s medication and asked how everything was going. Sarah mentioned that she finally got her daughter’s pills and confided that she was completely overwhelmed. Sarah shared that she was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and that her husband was often unavailable as he traveled constantly for work. She explained that she had a hard time getting to her treatments. After their call, Harriet explored and evaluated resources, and scheduled transportation to help Sarah get to her next appointment. Harriet put the appointment confirmation into Sarah’s patient portal and set up a reminder, including date and time, about the ride to her next treatment.

    This may sound like fiction in the current healthcare environment, where services are siloed and patients are burdened with making their own decisions around healthcare – often complex and costly. Sarah is relieved to have this service today. She first learned from her employer about the Accolade platform and health advisor service last summer. It wasn’t until she reached out with a simple question to her health assistant that Sarah experienced the true value of having a healthcare advisor on her side.

    A 2016 Harris Poll reveals that 84% of working families placed a value on having a single, trusted resource to help support their healthcare needs. Busy families have limited time and resources so they appreciate having one place to go to help them understand their options and sort through their healthcare decisions. 

    Personalized Patient Experience

    With the Accolade Health Assistant as the single point of contact for her family, Sarah is able to reach out to Harriet for guidance all along her and her family’s healthcare journeys.  Accolade integrates high tech and high touch to deliver a superior patient experience with lower healthcare costs. 

    Accolade Health Assistant Harriet accesses the Accolade platform to interact with and personalize her support for Sarah:

    Preferred Communication: Harriet engages with Sarah and her family based on their communication preferences. Sarah likes phone calls and email through the Accolade online portal. Sarah’s husband Sam prefers secure text messages since he can send quick messages and follow up later during his business trips.  

    Personalized & Proactive Experience: Harriet’s interactions with Sarah are driven by rich patient profile information, which contains contextual information, social determinants of health and service utilization. Sarah and her family’s profiles are updated with data collected over time and more than 150 data feeds integrated into the Accolade platform. The HIPAA-certified approach creates profiles that are continuously analyzed through sophisticated algorithms and health assistant reviews, which allow for personalized conversations around individual health needs, care gaps and obstacles.

    A recent Accolade platform trigger prompts Harriet to reach out to Sarah’s husband Sam when she notices that he is still refilling this pain medication many weeks after his knee surgery.  Harriet sent a text to Sam to inquire about his knee surgery. After a text exchange, Harriett suggested that he see his doctor to discuss his persistent pain.

    Patient Education & Connected Health: Sarah and her family can access educational information and recommended health apps. Before Sarah’s husband knee operation, Health Assistant Harriet texted Sam with a link to a video and suggested questions to prepare for his surgery and provider discussion. 

    When Harriett spoke with Sarah about her daughter’s diabetes appointment and care plan, Harriet informed Sarah about the Livongo mobile diabetes application available through her employer’s health plan. Together, they review the Livongo app, which can help Sarah and her daughter better track and manage her diabetes. With Accolade and Livongo, Sarah is able to share information from the mobile app with her daughter’s doctor, giving him insight into her problems with controlling her A1C levels.

    Continuous Connection to Clinical Resources and Support:  Harriett asked Sarah if she would like to speak with an oncology nurse to help prepare her for her upcoming oncologist appointment. Margaret, an Accolade Clinical Health Assistant and RN, joined them on the line and offered empathetic support by asking more about Sarah’s diagnosis, where she was in her care plan with her doctor, whether she had a support network and what was planned for her next appointment. Margaret provided Sarah with questions to ask her oncologist and recommended a follow-up discussion.

    Intelligent Engagement: Harriet and her Health Assistant team are continuously alerted by the Accolade platform. On an ongoing basis Accolade gathers, aggregates and models de-identified data to trigger alerts and guide Health Assistants in further personalizing their interactions with their clients.  Health Assistants are prompted to ask questions about health behaviors and emerging symptoms, applying specialized training and skillset. 

    Patient Experience Success Measures:

    Paul Csigi, Director of Benefits at Philadelphia- based Temple University Health System (TUHS), rolled out the Accolade solution in 2015 and has over 7,000 employees on the platform today.  “So much of healthcare is getting people to the right place at the right time. Accolade has created an experience where our employees build a relationship with an assistant that gives them what they need, when they need it. Accolade takes a single problem that the patient has called in about and creates a relationship to support the family on an ongoing basis. With all of the information about our employees, Accolade addresses the whole person, connects the patient with clinical resources, and continues to reach out. This helps treat our employees sooner, which is less expensive for our organization.”

    In addition to financial measures, TUHS monitors qualitative feedback from employees. With the Accolade platform outreach (phone or online), TUHS is able to capture the patient’s experience engaging with their Accolade Health Assistant:

    “I'd like to thank Temple for the Accolade program. We have been going through some really tough times…..my health assistants have been a big support and a big help to my family in helping to guide us to the right doctors to help with family issues and illnesses. I really appreciate this program. Without it, I'd really be lost.”

     “It is great having that person who is able to explain things to you and walk you through the process….It makes navigating the current health care world so much easier and less stressful. That is exactly what you need when you are dealing with a health care issue.”

     “I spoke with my health assistant and then with the nurse, and they were incredibly helpful. They spent a lot of time on the phone with me, helping me understand how to navigate the system, and what questions to ask.”

     “He [Clinical Health Assistant] made this very difficult hospitalization for my husband an easier journey. Without him, I wouldn't have been able to accomplish many things….I am extremely grateful.”

    Patient Experience Journey

    With two years of the Accolade solution under their belt, Paul Csigi and his team are considering new ways to support TUHS employees. “I have an employee population with diabetes and heart disease. I am interested in learning more about Accolade’s partnerships to bring patient data into the platform to support these populations.”  Csigi sees the benefit of bringing in data from patient devices and smart applications. Integrating this data with the patient’s medical record gives new insights to Accolade Health Assistants, empowering them to deliver even better support and drive improved outcomes.

    Dartmouth- Hitchcock’s ImagineCare Platform Leverages Wearables, Connected Health & Analytics for Personalized Patient Care

    Dartmouth-Hitchcock (D-H), an innovative New England healthcare system with 1,000+ providers is committed to creating a “sustainable health system”, which proactively engages patients through new care models to achieve the triple aim.

    Over the years, D-H has invested in technologies that empower patients to collaborate with providers through shared decision tools and Telehealth, treating “patients and their families as partners in care”.

    D-H has been a pioneer in innovative payment models with both the government and commercial payers.

    In early 2015, D-H’s leadership team committed to create a truly patient-centric healthcare organization, which delivers high quality proactive personalized care to the patient beyond the hospital walls.

    “Dartmouth-Hitchcock purposefully set out to assemble a team of employees with backgrounds from other consumer industries like hospitality and retail that would augment the world-class capabilities of our clinical staff, to improve the health care delivery experience”, explains Vin Fusca, COO, ImagineCare.

    With their consumer- centric “healthcare without boundaries” vision, D-H management has designed a truly “care- driven” solution.  ImagineCare, a cloud- based platform, enables providers to closely collaborate with each patient to meet her care goals at any time and from anywhere.

    ImagineCare treats the patient holistically through the active and passive collection of a comprehensive set of patient data. In addition to condition specific evidence-based care pathways (i.e. ImagineCare Hypertension Pathway, COPD Pathway, CHF Pathway, Diabetes Pathway), D-H incorporates a “Core Health Pathway” to capture steps, heart-rate activity, sleep, and stress (Behavioral Health), providing contextual insight into the patient’s health.  

    With ImagineCare, the Provider and patient have a window into the latest health status for insight and action. In the background, ImagineCare collects information from the patient (i.e. sensor- based devices, apps), combines it with EMR data (i.e. patient visits, labs, meds) and processes it through complex clinical care algorithms with machine intelligence to pinpoint when the patient is at risk. High tech meets high touch when ImagineCare notifies the RN or Health Navigator to reach out to the patient for real-time support and intervention. 

    “ImagineCare leverages the best available technologies to assist with care, but does not replace the importance of the human touch to drive behavior change. ImagineCare seamlessly combines these components to help patients achieve their health goals”, shares Dr. Ethan Berke, Chief Medical Officer, ImagineCare.

     Patient Experience

    During her recent doctor’s visit, (patient) Pam decides to participate in D-H’s new ImagineCare Program to help her lose weight and proactively manage her hypertension.

    Within 48 hours, Pam receives an email to quickly enroll in ImagineCare and a welcome call to discuss her personal health goals. Two days later a personalized ImagineCare Kit (box) is delivered to her door containing a program overview, a wireless blood pressure cuff and an activity band, devices which fit her selected health goals. Pam follows the instructions to connect her devices to the ImagineCare app.

    During enrollment, Pam’s shares her profile information such as personal health goals, challenges, communication preferences, family support, and defines her “medical neighborhood” (i.e. Providers, pharmacy, caregivers). She adds more information when responding to daily questions to create a rich picture about her health needs and resources required to tackle care plan activities.

    Anxious about her attempts to lose weight, Pam indicates in the mobile app that she only wants to receive texts to help her stay on track with her weight-management goal.

    Through the ImagineCare mobile app, Pam answers daily questions about how she is really doing, while her wireless blood pressure cuff and activity band retrieve and send real-time measures. Pam receives nudges, encouraging messages and digital check-ins to ensure she stays on track with her care plan. Yesterday’s text asked Pam if she was okay since she hadn’t provided her blood pressure as expected.

    D-H’s RNs and Health Navigators continuously monitor Pam’s health status, review her trends, and respond to risk warnings by reaching out via text which is her communication preference. Since Pam designates her daughter as a personal health representative within the mobile app, ImagineCare’s RNs are permitted to speak with her about Pam’s health.

    ImagineCare Success Measurement

    ImagineCare is designed to empower a health care organization to right-size provider visits, lower ED utilization and decrease admission and re-admissions. ImagineCare provides a more engaging solution to help health care delivery systems increase quality of care, decrease cost and improve patient experience.  

    In addition to these quantitative measures, D-H actively gathers qualitative patient feedback to understand the patient experience. Comments from patients about engaging in the ImagineCare program include:

    “I monitor my blood pressure every day, and after a particularly stressful day at the office I went home, took my blood pressure, and five minutes later one of the nurses called and talked me through an immediate care protocol.”

    “It has improved my ability to manage my health…The ability to connect with people for support and also send information to my healthcare providers, makes it easier.”

    "I am extremely impressed with the ImagineCare phone app. It is very easy to use and seems very intuitive”.

    ImagineCare Future

    ImagineCare is constantly updating its services and products based on patience engagement data, clinical data, and new technological capabilities coming to market. In a digital health landscape that is becoming more fragmented, ImagineCare will continually create holistic, customer-centered health services to better care for patient populations.

    D-H’s team has packaged up the ImagineCare platform for other providers, payers and (self- insured) employers to deliver personalized patient care for better outcomes.  

    Ochsner Leverages Retail, Connected Health Tools & Apple Watch to Engage Consumers

    Dr. Milani with longtime patient Andres Rubiano, pilots Apple WatchDuring the last eighteen months, the Ochsner Health System has moved into new territory, meeting consumers where they are, from their OBar, a retail genius format to patient hypertension pilots with the Apple Watch to drive behavior change. 

    As an innovative healthcare organization, Ochsner, a large Louisiana- based health network with 12 hospitals, 40 clinicians and an a 1,000+ Physician Group Practice, is committed to helping consumers use mobile and wearable connected health tools for self- management and care collaboration

    It all started back in late 2013 when Dr. Richard Milani, now Chief Clinical Transformation Officer and Vice Chair of Cardiology at Ochsner, observed what was going on nationally, a tremendous growth of mobile phone and smart apps. “At the time, I noticed that a lot of people didn’t know much about the health apps and wearables or were fearful about how to use them. My background is in preventive medicine”, explains Dr. Milani. “I saw a powerful opportunity for Ochsner to empower consumers to use mobile technology to enhance their health, opening the door to favorable behavior change.”

    OBar, Retail Genuis Bar with Apps & Devices  

    After more than nine months of planning, Ochsner launched their OBar in early 2014 at the new Ochsner Center for Primary Care and Wellness. The OBar is located in the lobby to attract people walking by as well as patients. The retail store is welcoming with digital tablets loaded with vetted mobile apps to support consumer health, “non-clinical” genius types to answer questions, provide guidance and sell discounted devices (i.e. Activity Tracker, wireless scale, blood pressure cuff and glucometer). “We created this retail setting to show people how to make themselves healthier on their own, independent of their health system. We also felt that as a health system, we could show you which health apps were good and can help you get the app loaded on your phone to begin using it.”

    Doctor gives patient RX for App, directs to OBar Ochsner wanted to go further, tying the OBar into their primary care services. Dr. Milani and his team created a prescription pad for their PCP offices, which lists the types of available apps and devices. The doctor simply checks off, hands the patient a prescription pad sheet and directs him downstairs to the OBar. Since this extension into primary care, clinicians have heard back from their patients about how the apps and devices have helped them make better health choices around activity, diet and their disease. Patient feedback has motivated these clinicians to tell others about the OBar.

    Dr. Milani went on to explain that the OBar initiative is not designed to be a profit center. As a non-profit, Ochsner is most interested in helping people stay healthy and has invested in a retail format as a way to be sticky to attract and keep consumers coming back. As with any retail store, visitors walk in and out which makes it challenging to capture and measure the value that consumers have gained from using these apps and devices. Through anecdotes, however, Ochsner has heard about the weight loss, the knowledge about “buying the right foods” and the ability to better “understand my disease”, which has helped many consumers visiting the OBar.

    Apple HealthKit & Epic Integration for Connected Health

    Ochsner was the first hospital to integrate the Apple HealthKit with their Epic system. This integration powers their Connected Health programs. While the patient is still in the hospital, she is given a tablet to answer a detailed questionnaire. Hypertensive patients, for example, are asked sodium consumption, medication adherence and affordability, social situations, depression, physical activity, BMI, sleep, Health literacy, Patient activation and more. Ochsner believes that patients respond more truthfully to the tablet.

    “We are phenotyping patients based on their specific disease and psycho- social measures that are fed into algorithms to personalize the care plan and decision support tools”, Dr. Milani explains. “Ochsner started with Heart Failure in early 2014, with a program for CHF patients to avoid readmissions through weight monitoring. In February 2015, we launched our Hypertension Digital Medicine Program, monitoring blood pressure and heart rate. “With the HealthKit/Epic integration, we are able to use the patient’s unique responses to the survey combined with the monitoring data to tailor the intervention to the individual”, adds Dr. Milani. Ochsner care providers monitor the dashboard to determine which patients are the priority today and to see the task check list for action.

    The national data reflects that currently, only 50% of individuals diagnosed with hypertension (high blood pressure) have their blood pressure under control, or at goal.  Lack of achieving goal blood pressure means that these individuals have significantly higher rates of stroke, heart disease and kidney failure. Ochsner has enrolled only patients that have failed to meet control blood pressure goals, and using this integrative approach, has achieved more than 60% control rates within 2 months.

    Dr. Milani and his team wanted the patient to see his progress in the program and designed an insightful report, which visually displays results and progress, quantifies risk and describes how the patient can reduce that risk. This program report is available in the patient portal and is also mailed monthly to the patient. “We decided to mail the report because we wanted the patient to have the opportunity to share the report with their family and to have the discussion about how they are doing in controlling their blood pressure in order to strengthen every day support”, admits Dr. Milani.

    In addition to the program report, program participants receive ongoing mobile texts for motivation and encouragement.

    Ochsner closely tracks, monitors and has presented very positive patient outcomes of their Integrated & Connected Health programs. One interesting insight that Dr. Milani has shared is that these participants are more successful in the beginning when they have the OBar support. “A Hypertensive patient can go to our OBar, get the program app downloaded on her phone and a demonstration about how to use the devices. This is especially important with older patients who may not feel comfortable getting set up over the phone. We realize the importance of providing this face to face technology support for our Connected Health program and are adding OBars to our other regions”, confirms Dr. Milani. Ochsner is planning to launch three more retail OBars by the end of the year.

    Apple Watch for Patient Pilot

    Dr. Milani views the Apple Watch as a behavioral change tool. As a foundation, this is a wearable, with many non-health features which captures the consumer’s attention and motivates consumer engagement. It takes the consumer’s focus off the phone and onto the wrist to communicate time as well as personal and professional messages.

    Ochsner is designing a study to understand the potential for changing the consumer’s behavior around health. They will be enrolling hundreds of hypertensive patients with the goal of increasing physician activity and improving medication adherence.

    Dr. Milani mentioned two of the health related Apple Watch apps which he plans to incorporate to help patients achieve the pilot goals. “There is a WebMD app which is a great medication reminder. It taps you on your wrist and shows you the picture of the pill that you need to take at that time. This is important because 50% of patients with chronic disease do not take their medications as prescribed. The second built-in app is for physical activity which can be used to set goals. It will tap me and remind me to stand up every 50 minutes. I can also see how I am doing against my activity goals”, shares Dr. Milani.

    For the Apple Watch pilot, Ochsner will compare the outcomes and behavior change for patients in their Hypertension Digital Medicine Program with a subset of patients who also have the Apple Watch medication and activity reminders and tracking. Throughout the pilot, Dr. Milani and his team will be closely monitoring whether and how these apps impact positive patient behavior change. 

    Innovative Providers Use Technology to Stay Connected with Patients Pre- Surgery through Recovery 

    Healthloop Virtual Patient Check in

    Healthcare reform has placed increased demands on doctors who are already managing increased patient loads. As a result, doctors are spending less time with their patients.

    Patients are being asked to take on more responsibility in managing their care. This is particularly challenging before and after a surgical procedure. A patient typically leaves the hospital with a stack of paper discharge instructions about medications, the follow- up visit and a list of symptoms to monitor with directions to contact the doctor if problems occur. Throughout recovery, the patient is often left to figure things out because she "doesn’t want to bother the doctor".  When the patient makes uninformed decisions about medications or readiness to begin an activity level, it can set her back on her recovery path or lead to costly hospital readmissions.

    Other than checking in with patients during the follow- up visit, providers are in reactive mode; patients calling with complex problems or heading to the ER.

    Since patient satisfaction, care quality and costs are impacted by the current process, providers are motivated to find a solution that virtually supports the patient's needs for guidance, education and shared decision making.

    Virtual Patient Support

    It all started in 2007 when Dr. Jordan Shlain was treating a patient who wasn’t feeling well. After discussing her symptoms, he gave the patient his cell number and asked to please call him if she felt worse by morning. He discovered a few days later that she had developed pneumonia. From this experience, Dr. Shlain learned that although he wanted to be proactive with his care, he couldn’t depend on the patient to call with an update. His began texting patients asking “do you feel the same, better or worse?” Dr. Shlain did not take any chances and assumed that a non- response from the patient indicated there may be a problem.

    After speaking with providers about not really knowing how a patient is doing post discharge, they expressed interest in daily virtual interactions with the patient as a way to increase patient engagement and prevent readmissions. Patients loved the idea of interacting electronically with their doctor on a daily basis since it would give them unprecedented access to communicate concerns and address problems in a quick and convenient way. This was the backdrop that led to the development of Healthloop.

    “Since late June, we have been using Healthloop for patients who have hip and knee replacement surgery”, shares Dr. Mohan, Surgeon for a large Integrated Delivery Network. “Our team was looking for a solution that would enable us to share the experience together with our patient. We also wanted to put the patient in the driver’s seat and give them control, while we were in the passenger seat as an observer and navigator.” Dr. Mohan’s orthopedic patients are on Healthloop before surgery and throughout recovery which tends to be 1-3 months.

    Dr. Andrew Goldstone, ENT Surgeon at Greater Baltimore Medical Center started using Healthloop in February with his adult and pediatric patients throughout recovery which typically lasts 2-4 weeks. Healthloop electronic communications are delivered to the parents of his young patients for ongoing support. "HealthLoop, in a technologically modern way, tries to mimic the old days when we admitted patients a day or so before and kept them as many days as we or they wanted to stay after surgery. This gave patients and their families a comfort level that most current M.D.s have never witnessed. The same goes with patients who, after ambulatory surgery, pay at the next window and go home. They have no clue how patient friendly it used to be having an extended ’hand holding‘  before returning home. I view HealthLoop as an attempt to recreate that extended comfort,” explains Dr. Goldstone.

    Patient Experience

    HealthLoop enables the physician to support the patient before surgery and monitor him post discharge and between visits, engaging each patient “as if he is the most important person”. With the goal of delivering guidance when the patient needs it, Healthloop works closely with the provider organization to define the questions that patients ask at each step of the recovery process. Together, they review typical calls at day 1, 2, etc., determine the appropriate response and set up the schedule to deliver the information to the patient right when they need it.

    Taking a closer look at the patient experience, Gary is referred by his primary care physician to a specialist about knee surgery. After deciding together to move forward with the operation, the surgeon quickly enrolls Gary in Healthloop to guide him before and after the surgery. Gary receives an email to complete his enrollment including his preferences for receiving Healthloop communications (i.e. email, text). 

    Before surgery, Gary answers questions about risk factors and receives guidance and checklists to prepare for his operation. For example, he learns how to to prepare his house to easily navigate when he returns home following surgery.

    After surgery, Gary receives a daily electronic communication with a set of questions to understand how he is feeling (i.e. pain level, specific symptoms, problems with meds, etc.), personalized education materials, activity and medication reminders and a checklist of To Dos. Based on Gary’s feedback and progress, his care plan is updated and his next day’s check-in is automatically prepared. 

    Healthloop is designed for two way engagement. If Gary experiences any health problems, these are gathered through his check- in responses and trigger an SMS message to his care team for intervention and support.

    With recent integration to Apple’s Healthkit, patient information is extended beyond daily check- in responses to include health tracking data. For example, Gary’s doctor has instructed him to take steps while healing from his knee operation. Gary’s tracker information is combined with his daily check-ins to give his care team more insight into his health status. Concerned about not enough movement, his clinician may call and learn that Gary is not moving enough because of his medication side effects which can be addressed through a prescription change. 

    Pilot Feedback; Patients & Providers

    Healthloop wants to deliver a truly patient- centric communication channel and uses patient feedback to enhance the solution. After hearing a patient comment that the messages felt “too robotic” and “do not sound like they are coming from my doctor”, the communications were refined to be more conversational.

    Another patient commented that the messages were using doctor’s words which resulted in changes to incorporate more patient vocabulary and experience. For example, questions about a blood clot were replaced with “feels like a cramp in my calf”.

    Patient Comments

    Healthloop has delivered over 57,000 daily check-ins to patients and has received positive feedback about the experience:

    Guidance: “I wanted to be able to say ‘I have this” and have someone come back and say that is normal and here is the process. Then all of my negative energy goes away”, “easy way for me to make sure that I was on the track with my recovery”. “The questions promoted me to be more aware of my situation”.

    Convenience: “Without Healthloop. I would have called (doctor) 5- 7 times”, “This saved me a trip to my doctor”.

    Access: “It was an extension of my doctor so instead of talking to a nurse and having her get back to me, I had a direct conduit to my doctor.”

    Provider Comments

    Healthloop Clinician Dashboard

    “As our team developed our Healthloop, we charted out what a recovery really is. With this, I know what my patient is going through, can emphasize and say with confidence that over half of my patients have their pain under control after day 4”, explains Dr. Mohan. “We also participate in a Medical Destination Program with patients traveling to our hospital, often from out of state. After staying in a hotel for 10- 14 days, they come to see me for a follow-up visit before returning home. We are now thinking about how we can use Healthloop to manage their care from a distance to make sure that the patient has a successful recovery.”

    Comments from other providers:

    Patient Satisfaction: “My patients told me that they looked forward to their daily Healthloop check-ins because it felt like ‘someone was watching over me’ who really cared”.

    Operational Efficiency: “For my practice, the volume of calls from patients has dropped tremendously. I notice it and my staff notices it too.”  “I am thinking about eliminating the 2 week follow-up visit and to just see the patient at the 6 week visit since I can check in on their pain management, incision and any other issues through Healthloop.”

    Better Quality: “Helps us pick up complications much sooner. It reinforces a plan with what to do and reminders”, “We are raising the bar on care by ensuring that we are giving the patient the pre and post-surgery education and care that they need”.

    Success Measures

    Providers using Healthloop are evaluating a set of success factors based on their program goals. In addition to lower costs which is measured over time, providers are monitoring:

    Patient Engagement; Patient Satisfaction using the net promoter score.

    Better Quality; Benchmarking patient progress, measuring patient’s perceptions of care quality received

    Operational Efficiency; Call reduction to the practice 

    Regarding patient engagement, some providers are leveraging positive ratings through social media. Patients who give the highest scores (5 Star Ratings) are encouraged to share their ratings and experiences through the link provided to public review sites such as HealthGrades and Vitals. Patients who give average or below average score are asked to explain how the provider can improve. Patients have commented on everything from old waiting room magazines to being put on hold for too long when they call.

    With Healthloop, “my patients tell me that they are happy with the surgery because I was right there with them. I also notice patients are much more relaxed during their follow-up appointments. That is so important to me”, Dr. Mohan concludes.

    Geisinger’s mHealth Journey Down the Patient Engagement Path

    Geisinger Health System launched its patient portal (MyGeisinger®) mobile app called MyChart, back in 2011. MyChart enables patients to use their smart phone to view medical information (i.e. meds, allergies, immunizations, test results, current health issues), communicate with the care team, view appointments and receive health reminders.

    Following the MyChart app, Geisinger accelerated its mobile initiatives with text messaging pilots and a cardiac mobile app pilot. The mHealth team at Geisinger continues to learn how patient engagement can be increased by leveraging electronic health information to improve access, collaboration and care guidance. 

    Mobile Patient Data Capture

    One of Geisinger’s key mhealth projects entails the electronic capture of patient reported data. “We’re using a third party tool to gather information from our asthma patients about how effectively they are managing their condition. Patients answer the five to seven question asthma control survey on their computer or mobile phone. So far, 13% of our patients are using their smartphone to respond and we expect that percent to grow”, explains Chanin Wendling, Director eHealth at Geisinger. Patients with a poor asthma control test score, indicating that their asthma may not be under control, receive an intervention call from a nurse who will help them better manage their condition. “This used to be a paper based survey which made it impossible to provide needed clinical support. Now that it is electronic, the survey can be delivered outside of the clinic and alerts can be sent to the clinician to catch problems before the patient ends up in the ER”, describes Wendling. “With this technology, we are able to check in more often with the patient. We have implemented the national best practice to have persistent asthmatic patients complete the survey every 90 days.”

    Geisinger is also using mobile electronic capture to identify patients with potential health problems. When checking in for their doctors’ appointment, patients are handed an iPad to enter their health information while in the waiting room. Patients are prompted to answer certain personalized questions based on their health profile. For example, patients 65 and over with a chronic condition receive depression screening questions. “We capture and integrate the patients’ responses into their EMR so that their care team can quickly address specific needs and concerns”, adds Wendling.

    Three Mobile Texting Pilots

    In six short months, Geisinger has planned and launched three text messaging pilot initiatives. Geisinger will be using the findings to expand and refine the project or move onto a new mobile texting opportunity.

    Last September, Geisinger started with appointment reminders to 4,000 enrolled patients total across two services areas; Pediatrics and Women’s Health. “We are currently evaluating this pilot based on the reminder’s impact on the ‘no show rate’ and more importantly on patient satisfaction. Based on the results, we plan to ask patients if they would like to receive a reminder in the future”, Wendling explains.

    In September, Gesinger also launched a medication reminder texting campaign in collaboration with Geisinger Health Plan. Less than 50 patients enrolled to receive the daily text. “We expected more patients to sign up and experienced a high opt- out rate from those patient who enrolled. We learned that the daily text with a simple message to take their medication was too frequent so we are reevaluating the program. We may use the text reminders for medications which are taken less often such as once a week or month”, shares Wendling. “We are also questioning if the text message alone is enough or can we deliver more value using a set of messages for the broader disease?”

    In November, Geisinger began using text messaging to support an existing program, “Conservative Weight Loss”. During this12 -week program, 240 patients enrolled to receive three texts per week; a reminder to weigh in, an educational and a motivational message. To evaluate this text message program, Geisinger will be reviewing patient satisfaction rates and weight loss results.

    Conservative Weight Loss Program: Text messages Week 1

    >Monday (nutrition) 
    “Take smaller bites and chew longer to savor food. Also eat slowly:it takes your brain   20 minutes to let your stomach know there is food in it. Text HELP 4help”
     
    >Wednesday (self-monitoring)
    “Think before you eat! Keeping food logs will help you with this. Keep honest, accurate food logs daily! Text HELP 4help”

    >Friday (motivation)
    “Reward yourself along the way with non-food rewards. Buy a smaller dress or a new pair of shoes, or take yourself out to see a movie. Text HELP 4help”

    When texting for HELP, the patient receives a text response with the phone numbers for technical assistance and clinical assistance.  “We do not yet have the option for the patient to text a question to the provider and then have the provider text or call them back. The first attempt at that will likely be a medication program with our Pharmacy team. There are a lot of operational and support issues that we have to figure out first”, explains Wendling. 

    Cardiac Mobile App Pilot 

    During the last few weeks, Geisinger has started testing a mobile Cardiac Rehab app internally to monitor the clinical data to decide whether to pursue a12- week patient pilot. The Cardiac mHealth application is designed to guide and support the patient throughout recovery. Within the cardiac app, patients can access educational information, receive medication reminders, track activity through their smartphone and provide feedback to their care team about any concerns. “Our patients in Cardiac Rehab are onsite three days a week. This is too much for many patients. During the pilot, we want to see if we can use technology to support their participation in Cardiac Rehab Program without the extensive onsite requirement throughout the 12 weeks”, Wendling explains. 

    Future Mobile Health 

    Geisinger is exploring ways to bring mobile health to different parts of its provider and payer organizations to drive patient engagement. This innovative health system is most interested in mobile health initiatives that strengthen the patient – provider relationship through the capture and sharing of information and tools to support better care decisions.

    In addition to expanding texting programs, Geisinger is developing a mobile app strategy and will likely target apps around chronic disease management, health and wellness and the patient experience.  In the area of chronic disease management, Geisinger is currently looking at an asthma app to connect in with care in their Pulmonary department. The app would help patients with reminders, tracking symptoms, alerts when at risk for an attack and general information about their condition.  Discussions are taking place with clinical leaders on other conditions where an app may help with patient care.  

    “At Geisinger, we are always exploring new ways to better personalize care and empower patients.  mHealth can do both, but it is not an add on.  It is a complete reengineering of the health system and we are only beginning to scratch the surface of the potential for it to bring healthcare and wellness to the patient”, shares Dr Steven Steinhubl, Director of Cardiovascular Wellness at Geisinger.