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, experiences, partnerships and marketing strategies.

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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 & Consumer Experience Planning: Conceptualizes, defines and validates solutions/experiences through Marketing Research and journey mapping.  Utilizes new innovative online and mobile research tools to co-create with target buyers and users, gathering input while understanding context to guide the development of personalized solutions & experiences.

> 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 patient experience (3)

    Oncology Patients experience a personalized journey with interventions and education for better care

    The National Cancer Institute reports 2017 U.S. cancer care expenditures were $147+ billion, with anticipated increases from our aging population. 

    According to Deloitte’s report in Evidence Based Oncology ( The American Journal of Managed Care publication), many organizations are exploring ways to control costs and enhance care quality for oncology patients (e.g. Patient Centered Medical Homes, CMS’ Oncology Care Model).

    With many different types of cancer and treatment options, each patient embarks on a personal care journey.

    Oncology patients often experience a long journey. Although some steps entail engaging with care staff at a hospital or clinic, most of the time patients are challenged with managing their disease on a daily basis away from the health system.

    Healthcare organizations need to closely monitor oncology patients to determine when care and support is required. To be proactive and stay aligned with patient needs, health systems must collect patient information (e.g. Patient Reported Outcomes/PROMs, Patient reported experiences/PREMs). This patient information can guide the care team to intervene, reducing hospitalizations and costs.  

    Northwestern Medicine’s Oncology Program

    “We wanted to take a holistic approach with our oncology patients; mind, body and spirit”, explains Dr. Martha L. Twaddle MD FACP FAAHPM HMDC, Medical Director - Palliative Medicine & Supportive Care, Northwestern Medicine, Lake Forest North Region. “We wanted to help our patients navigate their oncology journey, figure out their new normal and participate in their care”.

    “A few years ago, we successfully used a patient engagement care tool with our palliative patients. Our palliative team is embedded within Oncology. Eighteen months ago, we introduced this telehealth type of application to our oncology patients. We felt it would be valuable to extend TapCloud to our general oncology patients because we had seen such a positive response using it for those with high symptom burden and advance disease. We believe many patients and caregivers will benefit from having this tool available to use”.

    Patient Experience

    How does TapCloud support the oncology patient? What is the patient experience?

    Last month, Robert (not his real name), a 77 year old patient was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Dr. Twaddle and her staff worked closely with Robert through the onboarding process to provide an overview, demonstrate how to use TapCloud, help him download the TapCloud app onto his phone and iPad and discuss what symptoms they will manage to personalize the app for his specific condition.

    The Nurse Coordinator explained “Robert, with this tool (TapCloud), we can think about you when you are not in front of us, get a sense of how you are doing and that we are on the same page”.  Robert was relieved to get a message from his Nurse Coordinator confirming that she can see Robert listed on the dashboard to keep a close eye on him.

    Most of Dr. Twaddle’s seventy active patients using the TapCloud App are in their 60s and 70s, with a few in their 80s and 90s.

    Through the TapCloud app Care Plan, patients like Robert are asked a set of questions. How are you feeling today compared with yesterday? Which of these meds are you taking? Which symptoms are you experiencing today? Symptoms that were selected the prior day are displayed bold. Patients can add symptom(s) which typically takes less than a minute to provide this critical information. 

    Symptom tracking is made easy by using a word cloud. Each day, the patient sees a personalized word cloud containing symptoms.  This personalized symptom cloud incorporates his condition and medications and his list is continuously enhanced from machine learning. TapCloud’s predictive symptoms cover 100+ conditions and 14,000+ side effects.  The patient simply touches those symptoms he is noticing. Additionally, he views personalized education based on his journey stage (e.g. tips for managing chemo side effects) and what he is experiencing. He can also upload this biometric information (e.g. vitals, etc.).

    How has Northwestern Medicine used the TapCloud tool to deliver better care to Oncology Patients?

    Dashboard displays demo data only

    • Prioritize Patient Outreach. The TapCloud platform analyzes all the patient clinical and self- reported data in real time.  Using advanced algorithms, patients with a clinical need are identified and alerts are sent to the care team. Patients are prioritized based on alerts, severity and risk. Nurses use the TapCloud Triage Dashboard to efficiently track, monitor and respond to patients requiring an intervention. Nurses can drill down on a specific patient to see how many days since check in, recent events (e.g. vitals, medication usage), pain and anxiety levels. 
    • Intervene on specific symptoms: Instead of “fishing” for information about how a patient is feeling or having the patient end up in the ER, Nurse Terri can call the patient and say “I've noticed that you've had increased pain the past 2 days…”.  TapCloud can also be set up to send alerts for symptoms associated with a patient’s treatment. Patients can send a picture within the TapCloud app with a secure message about their concern.
    • In the Patient’s Words: “We had one patient who didn’t feel pain but entered ‘yuk’. He selected that to communicate in his words what he was feeling. One of the features that I really like is journaling. A patient may share that today he is ‘discouraged by his illness’.  Although he does not expect us to respond, it gives us insight into how he is doing and the support that he may need from us”, shares Dr. Twaddle. 
    • Stay Connected with patients who do not come in regularly: When patients are going through infusion treatment, Dr. Twaddle explained that her team sees them on a frequent basis. “However, when our patients are on oral chemo, we feel that TapCloud is especially valuable to give us a window into their experience. We risk losing them because they cannot tolerate the medications and stop without communicating to us.”
    • Address Patient Needs with Right Resource: When patients are not in the Clinic or Hospital, it is important to understand what they need. “We may see in a patient’s journaling that she is feeling afraid which is not physical but may be best addressed through our psych- social resource. Or a patient may be ‘running out of her medication’ or ‘checking in on an upcoming appointment’, which can be managed by our Nurse Coordinator."

    Measuring Success

    Dr. Twaddle uses a set of quantitative and qualitative measures to evaluate the success for the TapCloud solution for oncology patients including:

    1) Patient Engagement. How involved are patients in participating in their care?  How often did they check in with the app?  Which symptoms are most common? What are the new symptoms that have been added by the patient? 

    2) Improved symptom management. Was pain successfully controlled (e.g. pain scores, pain direction)?  Were negative symptoms (e.g. fatigue, bloated, shoulder pain) managed in a timely and effective manner?

    3) Cost reduction. How much money was saved by avoiding ER through interventions on symptoms? “When one of our cancer patient ends up in the ER, we explain that we may be able to help avoid the admission with a check in on the TapCloud tool. We had one patient with a side effect that we could have spotted and intervened since it was dangerous for her”.

    “We have found that TapCloud is helpful both with cancer patients who have declining function (e.g. pancreatic, advanced lung, brain tumor) and with those that may be curable (e.g. head & neck, breast)", shares Dr. Twaddle.

    AMITA Health’s Program will leverage TapCloud

    AMITA Health, one of Illinois’s largest health systems is in the process of planning their program which will use TapCloud.

    “When I first heard about TapCloud, I was on board immediately”, explains Dr. Robert O. Maganini, Breast Cancer Specialist at AMITA Health. “We have a compliance problem with our breast cancer patients. Although the hormone therapy treatment (e.g. Tamoxifen, Class Aromatase inhibitor) is for five years, some patients will stop after two years because of the side effects. Our working theory is if we have insights into where these patients struggle and when, we can do more aggressive interventions instead of waiting for their next appointment”.

    “Our plan is to offer TapCloud to all 200 patients who want to use it, from newly diagnosed to those in year two when we experience a drop in treatment adherence”.  After describing his patient population – mostly women 40-75 years old, Dr. Maganini expects a high opt- in rate since it is “ideal for them because it enables faster and more convenient access to their provider”.

    Like Dr. Twaddle, Dr. Maganini is planning to use a patient- centric approach when introducing TapCloud, ensuring that patients understand why they are using TapCloud, how to use it, and when to use it. 

    Dr. Maganini plans to introduce TapCloud to patients at the time of diagnosis. Nurses (e.g. NPs, Navigators) will get patients set up and show them how to use the digital health application. “Since surgery is typically the first step, we plan to use as a follow up with discharge instructions. For those in going through chemo treatments, we will monitor their symptoms. We want to get our patients accustomed to using TapCloud and then they will be using it for the long run with hormone therapy”.

    As part of the planning process, Dr. Maganini is working with his team to define the list of side effects including the words that these patients use to describe them. He is leveraging his own and his nursing staff’s patient experiences to devise the TapCloud  symptom list in “patient speak”. This is helpful to patients who often struggle to describe their symptoms and feelings.

    From this program, Dr. Managini expects to learn about the top side effects, interventions and the effectiveness of the interventions. He will be looking at different success factors – “increase in the therapy completion (3, 4, 5 years) and longer term (beyond the 2 years) hopefully a decrease in mortality rate and reoccurrence”.

    “With a program showing demonstrative effectiveness, we envision scaling this to the AMITA Health 2.0, 19 hospitals”, concludes Dr. Managini.

    Northwell Health’s Patients engage with AI ChatBot for guidance & support through their care journey

    Throughout the recent Connected Health Conference, the key theme was the need to balance technology with the human element.

    Northwell Health, New York’s large integrated health system with 22 hospitals and 550+ outpatient facilities, recognizes the importance of leveraging technology to extend the care team and personalize the patient journey.

    With the launch Northwell Health Chats (powered by Conversa Health), patients are empowered to connect, communicate and collaborate with their care team, while their clinicians closely monitor the patient’s evolving needs. 

    Think about a patient’s journey today.  Pamela, a 78 year old Medicare patient has just been discharged from a Northwell Hospital for a heart failure episode.

    Fortunately for Pamela, Northwell’s Health Chats, a new conversational AI platform will help support her during her recovery. With this text based chatbot, Pamela receives many more outreaches from her care team, a three- fold increase from about five times to fifteen during the 30 days post discharge period. 

    When she returns home, Pamela starts receiving notifications through SMS text message and clicks on the link to begin her chat about how she is doing. These chats continue to support Pamela through her recovery.

    Pamela is asked to confirm her weight uploaded automatically from her Withings scale. She sees her weight trending map with an educational message about working towards her goal. Next, Pamela responds how she is doing with her leg swelling and then about any difficulty breathing.

    Finally, the chat asks Pamela to indicate any side effects of her new medication. Based on her responses, she may be connected with her nurse to discuss any medication adjustments.  All of the information that Pamela provided to the chatbot is shared with her nurse for their discussion.

    Since this patient engagement solution is seamlessly integrated into Northwell’s work flow (e.g. care management tool/HIE), Pamela receives these personalized chats from her specific Nurse Navigator at Northwell and the chat content is tailored for her specific care journey. Pamela trusts the information that she receives and can respond with questions and concerns at any time. Pamela’s Nurse Navigator will determine if she needs to come right in to the office or if they can address her issues through a text, email, call or telehealth visit.

    Northwell is leveraging their Health Chats for population health. For example, the chat support patients as they prepare for a colonoscopy in their own language, ensuring the patient understands the instructions and knows how important this screening is to their health. This chat helps increase the patient’s health literacy and confirms that the patient knows how to prepare, reducing delays in diagnosis and additional health costs.

    Positive Results with Northwell Health Chats

    Sabina Zak, VP Northwell Community Health believes this chatbot is a “way to engage patients, by embedding information that is accurate, actionable and enables them to make more informed decisions which leads to better outcomes”.  

    As Northwell rolls out their Health Chats across the enterprise, they will be monitoring care quality, care cost and patient satisfaction measures.   With Northwell Health Chats, they are seeing a 97% patient satisfaction rate and lower post-acute care expenses in some of its hospitals. Northwell management is particularity interested in the reduced costs from fewer outreach calls since the bot engages patients and brings back needed information.

    Patient Comment:

    “These conversations were great and supportive emotionally as well as medically”.  

    Nurse Leader Comment:   

    “Conversa gives me reassurance that my patients are ok because I can see that they are responding to the health chats. It gives me piece of mind knowing that they are alright without having to always call them.”

     Clinical Leader Comment:

    “Innovative technologies like Northwell Health Chats are critical assets in our journey towards providing excellent clinical care and an outstanding personalized patient experience”, explains Northwell Health physician Dr. Zenobia Brown, VP Population Health. 

    Expanding Conversational Chat at Northwell Health

    In addition to supporting patients through procedures such as Colonoscopies, Northwell will be using this conversational chatbot to gather social determinants of health before the patient’s annual office visit. This information will be shared with their care team for their appointment.  

    Beyond population health, Northwell is expanding their Health Chats into Oncology, starting with head and neck and expanding to breast and prostate cancer patients. Northwell’s Health Chats will help patients prepare for the treatment, manage symptoms and check in once the treatment has concluded.

    In the future, Northwell is planning to use their Health Chats in the areas of bundled payments for patients with Coronary Artery bypass, Acute MI, Pneumonia, Stroke and Heart Failure.

    “Conversa’s conversational AI powering Northwell Health Chats enables us to improve care coordination, patient satisfaction and our ongoing patient relationship, resulting in the improved well-being of our customers while reducing costs. This high-tech, high touch, scalable approach benefits our patients, our nurses and our health system”, concludes Joseph Schulman, SVP Regional Executive Director at Northwell Health.

    Voice Health Summit Spotlight 2018

    During the Voice.Health Summit in Boston last week, innovators gathered to explore opportunities, discuss issues and to experience different voice technology use cases.

    BCH John Brownstein shares voice health use casesJohn Brownstein, Chief Innovation Officer at Boston Children’s Hospital is excited about the opportunity for healthcare to lead other verticals with this empowering technology which many of us use every day – Alexa tell me… Siri what is… ?

    Since the year 2000, the health technology industry has evolved from websites (e.g. patient portals) to mobile applications (mhealth) and now to voice and conversational assistants. There are many use cases which help patients and providers in different settings.

    • In hospital, the doctor asks to see the patient’s latest lab results.
    • Following a hospital discharge, the patient interacts with his virtual robot to record side effects from his new medications.
    • Preparing for an outpatient visit, a patient verbally responds to the pre-visit questions to share with her doctor.
    • Days after a remote monitoring visit, a patient asks additional questions to help her manage her asthma.

    Although voice health technology is in the early adoption stage, health innovators are convinced that these virtual voice assistants can address real problems -- the shortage of healthcare professionals, clinician burn out, inefficiencies in patient care, lack of patient engagement and the inability to personally support patients along their health journey outside of the hospital. Nuance’s Peter Durlach stresses the importance of using these technologies to free up the clinicians to take care of patients.

    Voice has many unique benefits for healthcare. Dr. Rupal Patel, CEO VocalID describes the convenience (e.g. hands free), the capability to capture information and insights about the user (e.g. gender, size, bio- markers) and ability to generate trust through continuous listening and personalized responses. Other benefits include the ability to capture context (e.g. surroundings, urgency and intent) and empower the user (e.g. patient feels a sense of control). Amazon’s Emily Roberts, Sr. Marketing Manager adds the value of capturing “moments of the day” by incorporating voice into other devices (e.g. smart home/refrigerator, car).

    Voice Health in Action

    During the Voice.Health Summit, we saw what “voice-first” can deliver in five different care setting exhibits. Here are some interesting examples of use cases to bring value to patients and/or the care team.

    1. Hospital/Patient. With the Joint Commission’s focus on “accurate screening and assessment of pain”, Dr. Samir Tulebaev, Geriatrician and the Center of Nursing Excellence at Brigham and Women’s Hospital are working with Orbita’s CEO Nate Treloar on the development of a post- operative pain management voice assistant. The patient tells her bedside teddy bear Briggie (which has a built in microphone) that she is in pain, describes where the pain is and indicates if the pain is intolerable. Her nurse immediately receives a secure text message to respond.

    2. Hospital/Clinical. Cedars-Sinai uses Sopris Assistant to record, summarize, approve and place the patient care note into the EHR. The AI summons the listening technology, drives the summary and produces the intelligent note for physicians. Cedars-Sinai helped Sopris Health create an experience and workflow catered to hospitalist.

    3. Senior Living & Home Health. Caregivers can engage an aging patient with the AI powered LifePod virtual assistant which serves as a personalized companion, delivers reminders, and monitors daily activities. LifePod’s CEO Stuart Patterson emphasized the importance of “proactive voice” which shares and captures essential information without relying on the person to ask (i.e. reactive voice).  

    4. Consumer Home. Anne Weiler, CEO Wellpepper, the winner of the Alexa Diabetes Challenge, engages a patient who is recently diagnosed with type 2 Diabetes. She uses her voice to weigh herself, scan her feet for ulcers and track her care plan tasks. This voice assistant gives the patient an opportunity to proactively engage whenever she wants.

    5. Vocal Biomarker LabSonde Health is interested in capturing and using a patient’s voice samples as health measures for different physical (e.g. sinus congestion) and mental health conditions (e.g. depression, suicide risk). 

    Lessons from Voice Health Innovators

    As with any new technology, there is a lot to learn from the pioneers.

    Real Problem Definition: Sara Holoubek, CEO Luminary Labs emphasized the importance of deciding who (e.g. newly diagnosed) and what (e.g. help with self-management) as a first step to focus the development planning process.

    Patient/User Input: Deloitte's Debbie Hays, Specialist Executive discussed the patient journey research for the DeloitteASSIST voice solution which revealed the “challenges and delays” that needed to be addressed while the patient is in the hospital room.

    Patient/User Feedback: Karin Beckstrom, Sr. Product Manager ERT Innovation Lab (formally PHT) described using voice to capture patient reported outcomes (PROs) on a daily basis. We ask-- how engaging was it? Are you willing to answer questions on a daily basis? How difficult was the skill? Did Alexa understand you?  

    "Flu Doctor" from Seattle Children's Hospital Stacey UlaciaPersonalization: Stacey Ulacia, Sr. Communications Specialist at Seattle Children’s Hospital in partnership with Boston Children’s Hospital, developed the “Flu Doctor” voice skill. This brings more value since it is customized based on the zip code provided by the patient.

    Opportunities for Voice to Solve Healthcare Problems

    There are many use cases for voice technology to help drive the triple aim. 

    UPMC’s Dr. Shivdev Rao believes it would be valuable to use voice to help triage a care situation, and capture information from the patient pre or post exam.

    Boston Children’s Hospital Dr. Docktor shared Pediatrics Voice Hackathon examples including one which uses voice to help a patient prepare for his procedure at home with instructions and images that are tailored to his specific health issues (e.g. food problems).  

    Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles is collaborating with Sumeet Bhalitia, Founder & CEO Avia to bring voice into the hospital room, giving the patient control over their experience and the ability to get assistance as needed (e.g. bathroom help) with the goal of increased patient satisfaction.  

    Recent metrics for Answers by CignaCigna’s Laura Schuntermann, Global Head of Digital Strategy & Partnerships is excited by the growth of voice search. Gartner predicts by 2020, 30% of searches will be voice activated. Laura shared results from the voice solution Answers by Cigna which helps members get the information they need to make better health care decisions.

    Novartis’s Robert Stevens, Executive Director of Digital Strategy & Medical Innovation described voice health use cases that help clinicians determine the diagnosis/clinical decision support, check guidelines, send RXs to pharmacy and order follow up patient education.   

    Future Voice Health Considerations

    Although there is excitement around voice health, innovators are working to remove speed bumps to accelerate adoption:

    Addressing Privacy/Security. Several organizations are anxiously awaiting for HIPAA compliant voice devices. There is also a concern that the device is always listening, even without the “wake” word.  

    Educating Patients about Voice. A few presenters admitted that patients do not know what they can ask. This means that either they are not using all of the voice capabilities or the patient has an unexpected experience -- Alexa says …. Hmm I do not know that one.

    Mayo Clinic's Optimizing Voice Content Creating complete Patient Experiences. Mayo Clinic’s Jennifer Warner, Sr Editor Global Business Solutions explains that voice is additive and does not replace other consumer engagement methods. Therefore, it is important to provide an “omni-channel” experience to engage and support the patient through every touch point. 

    Collaborating on Care Design. Maia Ottenstein, Digital Experience Design at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital (DICE/design group within the hospital) is working on the “smart patient concierge” which empowers the patient to access assistance and resources on demand.

    It will take a community of patient and clinical stakeholders to define, design and deliver voice technologies that bring real value to the users. It is encouraging to see that these stakeholders are coming together in hospitals, accelerators and innovation hubs to bring these voice technologies to life.