How Care Coordination Technology Addresses Social Isolation in Seniors

How Care Coordination Technology Addresses Social Isolation in Seniors
Jenifer Leaf Jaeger, MD, MPH, Senior Medical Director, HealthEC

Senior isolation is a health risk that affects at least a quarter of seniors over 65. It has become recognized over the past decade as a risk factor for poor aging outcomes including cognitive decline, depression, anxiety, Alzheimer’s disease, obesity, hypertension, heart disease, impaired immune function, and even death.

Physical limitations, lack of transportation, and inadequate health literacy, among other social determinants of health (SDOH), further impair access to medical and mental health treatment and preventive care for older adults. These factors combine to increase the impact of chronic comorbidities and acute issues in our nation’s senior population.

COVID-19 exacerbates the negative impacts of social isolation. The consequent need for social distancing and reduced use of the healthcare system due to the risk of potential SARS-CoV-2 exposure are both important factors for seniors. Without timely medical attention, a minor illness or injury quickly deteriorates into a life-threatening situation. And without case management, chronic medical conditions worsen. 

Among Medicare beneficiaries alone, social isolation is the source of $6.7 billion in additional healthcare costs annually. Preventing and addressing loneliness and social isolation are critically important goals for healthcare systems, communities, and national policy.

Organizations across the healthcare spectrum are taking a more holistic view of patients and the approaches used to connect the most vulnerable populations to the healthcare and community resources they need. To support that effort, technology is now available to facilitate analysis of the socioeconomic and environmental circumstances that adversely affect patient health and mitigate the negative impacts of social isolation. 

Addressing Chronic Health Issues and SDOH 

When we think about addressing chronic health issues and SDOH in older adults, it is usually after the fact, not focused on prevention. By the time a person has reached 65 years of age, they may already be suffering from the long-term effects of chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension or heart disease. Access points to healthcare for older adults are often in the setting of post-acute care with limited attention to SDOH. The focus is almost wholly limited to the treatment and management of complications versus preventive measures.  

Preventive outreach for older adults begins by focusing on health disparities and targeting patients at the highest risk. Attention must shift to care quality, utilization, and health outcomes through better care coordination and stronger data analytics. Population health management technology is the vehicle to drive this change. 

Bimodal Outreach: Prevention and Follow-Up Interventions

Preventive care includes the identification of high-risk individuals. Once identified, essential steps of contact, outreach, assessment, determination, referral, and follow-up must occur. Actions are performed seamlessly within an organization’s workflows, with automated interventions and triggered alerts. And to establish a true community health record, available healthcare and community resources must be integrated to support these actions. 

Social Support and Outreach through Technology 

Though older adults are moving toward more digitally connected lives, many still face unique barriers to using and adopting new technologies. So how can we use technology to address the issues?

Provide education and training to improve health literacy and access, knowledge of care resources, and access points. Many hospitals and health systems offer day programs that teach seniors how to use a smartphone or tablet to access information and engage in preventive services. For example, connecting home monitoring devices such as digital blood pressure reading helps to keep people out of the ED. 

Use population health and data analytics to identify high-risk patients. Determining which patients are at higher risk requires stratification at specific levels. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, COVID-19 hospitalizations rise with age, from approximately 12 per 100,000 people among those 65 to 74 years old, to 17 per 100,000 for those over 85. And those who recover often have difficulty returning to the same level of physical and mental ability. Predictive analytics tools can target various risk factors including:

– Recent ED visits or hospitalizations

– Presence of multiple chronic conditions

– Depression 

– Food insecurity, housing instability, lack of transportation, and other SDOH 

– Frailty indices such as fall risk

With the capability to identify the top 10% or the top 1% of patients at highest risk, care management becomes more efficient and effective using integrated care coordination platforms to assist staff in conducting outreach and assessments. Efforts to support care coordination workflows are essential, especially with staffing cutbacks, COVID restrictions, and related factors. 

Optimal Use of Care Coordination Tools

Training and education of the healthcare workforce is necessary to maximize the utility of care coordination tools. Users must understand all the capabilities and how to make the most of them. Care coordination technology simplifies workflows, allowing care managers to: 

– Risk-stratify patient populations, identify gaps in care, and develop customized care coordination strategies by taking a holistic view of patient care. 

– Target high-cost, high-risk patients for intervention and ensure that each patient receives the right level of care, at the right time and in the right setting.

– Emphasize prevention, patient self-management, continuity of care and communication between primary care providers, specialists and patients.

This approach helps to identify the resources needed to create community connections that older adults require. Data alone is insufficient. The most effective solution requires a combination of data analytics to identify patients at highest risk, business intelligence to generate interventions and alerts, and care management workflows to support outreach and interventions. 


About Dr. Jenifer Leaf Jaeger 

Dr. Jenifer Leaf Jaeger serves as the Senior Medical Director for HealthEC, a Best in KLAS population health and data analytics company. Jenifer provides clinical oversight to HealthEC’s population health management programs, now with a major focus on COVID-19. She functions at the intersection of healthcare policy, clinical care, and data analytics, translating knowledge into actionable insights for healthcare organizations to improve patient care and health outcomes at a reduced cost.

Prior to HealthEC, Jenifer served as Director, Infectious Disease Bureau and Population Health for the Boston Public Health Commission. She has previously held executive-level and advisory positions at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as academic positions at Harvard Medical School, Boston University School of Medicine, and the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.


VHA, Ontrak Launch 3-Year AI Study to Help Prevent Veteran Suicide

Veterans Health Administration Taps Ontrak to Help Prevent Veteran Suicide

What You Should Know:

– The Veterans Health Administration has selected Ontrak
in collaboration with Harvard Medical School and Brown University to transform
suicide prevention care for veterans.

– Leveraging AI developed by a Harvard Medical School
professor and the core analytics of the Ontrak platform, the three-year study
will look at the effect of intensive care coaching in addition to the standard
of care for veterans at high risk of suicide after inpatient hospitalization at
a psychiatric hospital. The trial will include 850 patients at six VA
hospitals.

– Suicide prevention is a focus for the military as well
as for the population as a whole as the U.S. grapples with the COVID-19
pandemic.


Ontrak, Inc., an AI-powered
and telehealth-enabled,
virtualized healthcare company, announced a cooperative research and
development agreement with the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) to conduct
a 3-year research study on the effect of intensive care coaching in addition to
the standard of care for Veterans at high risk of suicide-related behaviors
after psychiatric hospital.

Research Study Details

The study will leverage AI developed by Dr. Ronald Kessler
of the Harvard Medical School, as well as the core analytics of the Ontrak
platform. Dr. Kessler is the McNeil Family Professor of Health Care Policy at
Harvard Medical School and a principal in the STARRS Longitudinal Study of
suicide prevention among US Army soldiers. “We are excited to have Ontrak
helping us evaluate the effects of an intensive intervention to prevent
suicidal behaviors among Veterans at very high risk,” stated Dr. Kessler.

 Why It Matters

Suicidal ideation has been elevated since the pandemic and
the CDC reported on August 14 that a survey of U.S. adults in June 2020
indicated that 11% had seriously considered suicide in the past 30 days, which
was twice as high as in the previous 12 month period.

Addressing Veteran suicide is a top VHA priority and Ontrak is proud to apply their AI and virtual care coaching model in a trial of 850 patients at 6 VHA hospitals selected from a total of 98 in the country. This study has the potential to not only reduce suicide risk but also to produce secondary reductions in risk through interventions that address co-occurring medical conditions.

Dr. Judy Feld, Medical Director of Ontrak, stated, “Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. with rates steadily increasing over the past decade and worsening during the Covid-19 pandemic. We know that individuals with behavioral health conditions such as depression, substance use disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder are at higher risk for suicidal ideation or attempt. Importantly, the rate of suicide among our country’s military Vets is double that of non-Veterans. As a pioneer in the development of evidence-based interventions for engaging individuals in care for anxiety, depression, and substance use disorders, Ontrak is honored to partner with the VHA healthcare system and collaborators from Harvard Medical School and Brown University to advance the medical community’s understanding of the most impactful case management for Veterans at high risk of suicide after inpatient hospitalization.”

The Future of the ICU? How Clinical Decision Support Is Advancing Care

The Future of the ICU? How Clinical Decision Support Is Advancing Care
Kelly Patrick, Principal Analyst at Signify Research

Without a doubt 2020 has been a devastating year for many; the impact of COVID-19 on both personal lives and businesses has had long-term consequences. At the end of September, the number of COVID-19 cases fell just short of 350 million, with just over 1 million deaths reported. The expectation of a second peak in many countries exposed to the deadly illness is being handled with care, with many governments attempting to minimize the impact of an extreme rise in cases.  

COVID-19 the aftermath will be the new normal?

Despite the chaotic attempts to dampen the impact of a second peak, it is inevitable that healthcare facilities will be stretched once again. However, there are key learnings to be had from the first few months of the pandemic, with several healthcare providers opting to be armed with as much information to tackle the likely imminent surge of patients with COVID-19 head-on. The interest in solutions that offer support to clinicians through data analysis is starting to emerge with several COVID-19 specific Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms filtering through the medical imaging space. 

Stepping into the ICU, the use of analytics and AI-based clinical applications is drawing more attention. Solutions that collect relevant patient information, dissect the information, and offer clinical decision support are paving the way to a more informed clinical environment. Already, early-warning scoring, sepsis detection, and predictive analytics were becoming a focus. The recent COVID-19 outbreak has also driven further interest in COVID-19 specific applications, and tele-ICU solutions, that offer an alternative way to ensure high-risk patients are monitored appropriately in the ICU. 

What does the future hold?

Signify Research is currently in the process of assessing the uptake of clinical decision support and AI-based applications in the high acuity and perinatal care settings. An initial assessment has highlighted various solutions that help improve not only the efficiency of care but also improve its quality. Some of the core areas of focus include:

Clinical Decision Support & Predictive Analytics

Due to the abundance of patient data and information required to be regularly assessed and monitored, the high-acuity and perinatal care settings benefit from solutions offering clinical decision support. 

The ICU specifically has been a focus of many AI solution providers, with real-time analysis and support of data to provide actionable clinical decision support in time-critical situations. Clinical decision support solutions can collate data and identify missing pieces of information to provide a complete picture of the patient’s status and to support the treatment pathway. Some of the key vendors pathing the way for AI in clinical decision support in the ICU include AiiNTENSE; Ambient Clinical Analytics; Etiometry; BetterCare; AlertWatch; and Vigilanz Corp.

Early-warning

Early-warning protocols are commonly used in hospitals to flag patient deterioration. However, in many hospitals this is often a manual process, utilizing color coding of patient status on a whiteboard in the nurse’s station. Interest in automated early-warning systems that flag patient deterioration using vital signs information is increasing with the mounting pressure on stretched hospital staff.

Examples of early-warning software solutions include the Philips IntelliVue Guardian Solution and the Capsule Early Warning Scoring System (EWSS). Perigen’s PeriWatch Vigilance is the only AI-based early-warning scoring system that is developed to enhance clinical efficiency, timely intervention, and standardization of perinatal care.

The need for solutions that support resource-restricted hospitals has been further exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many existing early-warning vendors have updated their surveillance systems to enable more specific capabilities for COVID-19 patients, specifically for ventilated patients. Companies such as Vigilanz Corp’s COVID Quick Start and Capsule Tech’s Clinical Surveillance module for ventilated patients enables healthcare professionals to respond to COVID-19 and other viral respiratory illnesses with customizable rules, reports, and real-time alerts.

Sepsis Detection

Sepsis is the primary cause of death from infection, accounting for 20% of global deaths worldwide. Sepsis frequently occurs from infections acquired in health care settings, which are one of the most frequent adverse events during care delivery and affect hundreds of millions of patients worldwide every year. As death from Sepsis can be prevented, there is a significant focus around monitoring at-risk patients.

Several health systems employ their own early-warning scoring protocol utilizing in-house AI models to help to target sepsis. HCA Healthcare, an American for-profit operator of health care facilities, claims that its own Sepsis AI algorithm (SPOT) can detect sepsis 18-hours before even the best clinician. Commercial AI developers are also focusing their efforts to provide supporting solutions.

The Sepsis DART™ solution from Ambient Clinical Analytics uses AI to automate early detection of potential sepsis conditions and provides smart notifications to improve critical timeliness of care and elimination of errors. Philips ProtocolWatch, installed on Philips IntelliVue bedside patient monitors, simplifies the implementation of evidence-based sepsis care protocols to enable surveillance of post-ICU patients. 

Tele-ICU

The influx of patients into the ICU during the early part of 2020 because of COVID-19 placed not only great strain on the number of ICU beds but also the number of healthcare physicians to support them. Due to the nature of the illness, the number of patients that were monitored through tele-ICU technology increased, although the complex nature of implementing a new tele-ICU solution has meant the increase has not been as pronounced as that of telehealth in primary care settings.

However, its use has enabled physicians to visit and monitor ICU patients virtually, decreasing the frequency and need for them to physically enter an isolation room. As the provision of healthcare is reviewed following the pandemic, it is likely that tele-ICU models will increase in popularity, to protect both the patient and the hospital staff providing direct patient care. Philips provides one of the largest national programs across the US with its eICU program.

Most recently, GE Healthcare has worked with Decisio Health to incorporate its DECISIOInsight® into GE Healthcare’s Mural virtual care solution, to prioritize and optimize ventilator case management. Other vendors active within the tele-ICU space include Ambient Clinical Analytics, Capsule Health, CLEW Med, and iMDsoft.

Figure 1 Signify Research projects the global tele-ICU market to reach just under $1 billion by 2024.

Interoperable Solutions

More and more solutions are targeted toward improving the quality of patient care and reducing the cost of care provision. With this, the requirement for devices and software to be interoperable is becoming more apparent. Vendors are looking to work collaboratively to find solutions to common problems within the hospital. HIMMS 2020 showcased several collaborations between core vendors within the high acuity market. Of note, two separate groups demonstrated their capabilities to work together to manage and distribute alarms within a critical care environment, resulting in a quieter experience to aid patient recovery. These included:

– Trauma Recovery in the Quiet ICU – Ascom, B Braun, Epic, Getinge, GuardRFID, Philips

– The Quiet Hospital – Draeger, Epic, ICU Medical, Smiths Medical, Spok​


About Kelly Patrick, Principal Analyst at Signify Research

The Future of the ICU? How Clinical Decision Support Is Advancing Care
Kelly Patrick, Principal Analyst at Signify Research

Kelly Patrick is the Principal Analyst at Signify Research, a UK-based market research firm focusing on health IT, digital health, and medical imaging. She joined Signify Research in 2020 and brings with her 12 years’ experience covering a range of healthcare technology research at IHS Markit/Omdia. Kelly’s core focus has been on the clinical care space, including patient monitoring, respiratory care and infusion.