How COVID-19 Reshaped Healthcare Consumerism & 4 Key Trends to Know for 2021

How COVID-19 Reshaped Healthcare Consumerism & 4 Key Trends to Know for 2021

What You Should Know:

– NRC Health today released its 2021 Healthcare Consumer
Trends Report, which surveyed 2 million healthcare consumers against the
backdrop of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

– The latest report highlights the major trends that came to light last year, and how they will continue to impact the healthcare industry in 2021 and beyond – from declining brand loyalty, increased care deferment, the fast adoption of telehealth, a rise in wearable tech, and a broader focus on social media marketing.

– Hospital leaders will also find value in learning how
to recapture patient volumes lost in 2020 and how to bring more human
understanding into the care experience.


NRC Health, a provider of in-depth
customer intelligence in healthcare, today released its 2021 Healthcare Consumer Trends Report. For its
third-annual industry review, NRC Health surveyed millions of healthcare
consumers against the backdrop of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. From
declining brand loyalty, increased care deferment, the fast adoption of
telehealth, a rise in wearable tech and a broader focus on social media
marketing, NRC Health’s latest report shines a light on consumers’ evolving
preferences and behaviors related to key healthcare trends and offers insight
into how provider organizations can recapture patient volumes in 2021.


COVID-19 Accelerated the Trajectory of Consumerism in
Healthcare

“It cannot be overstated just how dramatically COVID-19 has accelerated the trajectory of consumerism in healthcare,” said Helen Hrdy, Chief Growth Officer, NRC Health. “The onus falls on healthcare leaders to move the industry forward by ensuring patient safety, building consumer trust and bringing more human understanding into every care experience. Those organizations that are willing and able to evolve with the times will be best-positioned for success in the aftermath of COVID-19.”

“For years, consumers have made consistent appeals for autonomy, convenience, and freedom of choice,” said Hrdy. “As unsettling as it’s been, COVID-19 has brought some of these consumerist-driven measures to the forefront. While healthcare leaders have proven they can be nimble and adaptable, even in the face of crisis, consumers want a partnership with their providers and a care experience that exceeds their expectations moving forward. But only with the right data and the right understanding, can we ensure that healthcare is capable of adapting.”


4 Key Healthcare Consumerism Trends to Know in 2021

1. Consumers favor convenience, provider rapport over brand loyalty

Consumer loyalty is a major driver of health system
profitability, but unfortunately for hospitals and health systems, overall
brand preference among healthcare consumers continues to decline, from 31% in
2018 to 36% in 2020. More than a third of consumers expressed no particular
preference for a healthcare brand, when compared against independent
practitioners, and 62% anticipate their brand preferences to change after the
pandemic.

Ironically, providers themselves are in the best position to
earn back consumer trust. An analysis from NRC Health’s Real-time Feedback
database shows that consumers report an overwhelming fondness for their
providers, especially since the outbreak began. To capitalize on that goodwill
and bring patients back into the healthcare fold, all evidence points to
convenience. Almost half of consumers say a convenient location is the number
one factor in their healthcare decision-making.


2. Patient deferment rates will continue to rise

Prior to the pandemic, healthcare deferral rates were
approaching a five-year low. But with consumer anxiety at an all-time high due
to the pandemic, those rates rose significantly in 2020, up from 22.4% at the
end of March to 30.4% by the end of June. Forty percent of patients who delayed
care in 2020 cited the coronavirus as the reason, while 17.2% said they prefer
to manage their care on their own for now.

Delaying care can have a number of repercussions, from
threatening hospital revenue streams in the near term to causing far more
serious outcomes for consumers in the long term. Patients 75 and older
accounted for nearly 68% of all care delays, revealing a huge challenge for
health systems as they try to recruit this generation back into regular care.


3. Future of care delivery looks
uncertain after rapid telehealth adoption

Lagging in widespread adoption for years, the pandemic fast
tracked virtual care delivery from optional luxury to operational necessity.
Fortunately, consumers have been receptive to the shift, with an overwhelming
92% reporting positive telehealth experiences during this time. However, only
27% of consumers say they will consider telehealth as a potential alternative
for future visits, underscoring what is still an uncertain future for virtual
health and overall care delivery beyond the pandemic. Prioritizing provider
time and attentiveness, as well as financial transparency, will be key as
healthcare organizations work to cultivate effective telehealth practices long
term.


4. Patients and providers still disconnected over digital
innovations

Telehealth
may have brought healthcare into consumers’ homes, but it is by no means the
only avenue to reach customers outside of the healthcare facility. By and
large, consumers are enthusiastic about digital innovations that bring them
closer to their provider — even as these innovations are underutilized by
healthcare organizations.

Wearable
tech
, for example, has become a huge part of the average consumer’s daily
life in regards to how they manage their health and wellness from home. Yet
only 50% of providers are asking about wearable tech data during appointments,
despite the fact that 57% of consumers believe this data would be useful in
conversations with their healthcare providers.

Social media is another under-used digital venue for patient
interaction. Even though 72% of Americans have some kind of social media
profile, many health systems have not yet found an optimal strategy for
engagement. And while currently, only 23% of Internet users are actively
seeking health information on social media, that number is likely to soon rise
as 70% percent of consumers expressed interest in getting healthcare
information via social channels. Another 62% said they trust the health information
they get on social media, so long as it comes directly from their provider.
This was especially true during the worst of the pandemic, when consumers
trusted news from local healthcare organizations more than any other sources.


Pleio and Medisafe Showcase Human-to-Digital Patient Engagement Future

New program combines human hello to digital embrace for long-term medication support Boston, MA – Medisafe, a leading digital drug companion company, is teaming up with Pleio to launch a new integrated digital health model with a unique combination of human and digital resources. Known as the GoodStart program, Pleio’s concierge service uses mentors to acclimate patients on their prescription therapy via live phone calls and digital nudges, meeting patients’ need for human connection. Combining human support with digital platforms has shown to reduce patient hesitation, enhance retention, and improve adherence and outcome rates. Over time, the program transitions engaged patients to Medisafe’s

The post Pleio and Medisafe Showcase Human-to-Digital Patient Engagement Future appeared first on Pharma Mirror Magazine.

Is Your Covid Vaccine Venue Prepared to Handle Rare, Life-Threatening Reactions?

As the rollout of covid-19 vaccines picks up across the U.S., moving from hospital distribution to pharmacies, pop-up sites and drive-thru clinics, health experts say it’s vital that these expanded venues be prepared to handle rare but potentially life-threatening allergic reactions.

“You want to be able to treat anaphylaxis,” said Dr. Mitchell Grayson, an allergist-immunologist with Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. “I hope they’re in a place where an ambulance can arrive within five to 10 minutes.”

Of the more than 6 million people in the U.S. who have received shots of the two new covid vaccines, at least 29 have suffered anaphylaxis, a severe and dangerous reaction that can constrict airways and send the body into shock, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Such incidents have been rare — about 5.5 cases for every million doses of vaccine administered in the U.S. between mid-December and early January — and the patients recovered. For most people, the risk of getting the coronavirus is far higher than the risk of a vaccine reaction and is not a reason to avoid the shots, Grayson said.

Still, the rate of anaphylaxis so far is about five times higher for the covid vaccines than for flu shots, and some of those stricken had no history of allergic reactions. In this early phase of the vaccine rollout, all the patients were treated in hospitals and health centers that could offer immediate access to full-service emergency care.

As states look to scale up distribution, the shots will be administered by a varied assortment of professionals at venues including drugstores, dental offices and temporary sites attended by National Guard troops, among others. Health officials say every site involved in the wider community rollout must be able to recognize problems and have the training and equipment to respond swiftly if something goes wrong.

“We are really pushing to make sure that anybody administering vaccines needs not just to have the EpiPen available but, frankly, to know how to use it,” said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, in a call with reporters. She was referring to a common epinephrine injector that many people with severe allergies carry with them. Those health care workers must also know the warning signs of the need for advanced care, she added.

Anaphylaxis typically occurs within minutes and can cause hives, nausea, vomiting, dizziness or fainting, and life-threatening problems such as low blood pressure and constricted airways. Initial treatment is an injection of epinephrine, or adrenalin, to reduce the body’s allergic response. However, severely affected patients can require intensive treatments including oxygen, IV antihistamines and steroids such as cortisone to save their lives. Community sites are unlikely to have these treatments on hand and would need quick access to emergency responders.

Anybody administering vaccines needs not just to have the EpiPen available, but, frankly, to know how to use it.

Dr. Nancy Messonnier, CDC

Scientists are still investigating what’s triggering the severe reactions to the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna mRNA vaccines. They suspect the culprit may be polyethylene glycol, or PEG, a component present in both vaccines that has been associated with allergic reactions.

Even as they call for education and support for providers, experts are urging the more than 50 million Americans with allergies — whether to foods, insect venom, medications or other vaccines — to be proactive about finding a venue that’s properly prepared. Before scheduling a vaccine, contact the site and ask pointed questions about its emergency precautions, said Dr. Kimberly Blumenthal, quality and safety officer for allergy at Massachusetts General Hospital.

“Ask the question: Do they have an anaphylaxis kit? Can they take vital signs?” she said. People who routinely carry EpiPens should remember to bring them when they are vaccinated, she added.

A CDC website details a list of equipment and medications that sites should have on hand and urges that all patients be observed for 15 minutes after vaccination or 30 minutes if they’re at higher risk for reactions. The list recommends — but does not require — that sites stock the more intensive treatments, such as IV fluids. People who experience severe reactions shouldn’t get the recommended second dose of the vaccine, the agency said.

“Appropriate medical treatment for severe allergic reactions must be immediately available in the event that an acute anaphylactic reaction occurs following administration of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine,” the site says.

Still, that’s a tall order, given the scope of the vaccination effort. The federal government is sending vaccines to more than 40,000 pharmacy locations involving 19 chains, including CVS, Walgreens, Costco and Rite Aid. At the same time, dozens of pop-up inoculation sites are ramping up in New York City, and drive-thru clinics have been set up in Ohio, Florida and other states.

Drive-thru sites, in particular, worry allergists like Blumenthal, who said it’s crucial to recognize symptoms of anaphylaxis quickly. “If you’re in a car, are you going to have your windows open? Where are the medicines? Are you in a parking lot?” she said. “It just sounds logistically more challenging.”

Ask the question: Do they have an anaphylaxis kit? Can they take vital signs?

Dr. Kimberly Blumenthal, Massachusetts General Hospital

In Columbus, more than 2,400 people had been vaccinated by Jan. 6 at a drive-thru clinic set up at the Ohio Expo Center. No allergic reactions have been reported, according to Kelli Newman, a spokesperson for Columbus Public Health. But if they occur, she said, health officials are prepared.

“We have a partnership with our EMS and they are observing those being vaccinated for 15 minutes to make sure there are no adverse reactions,” Newman said in an email. “They have two EMS trucks available with emergency equipment and epinephrine, if needed.”

Similarly, representatives for CVS Health and Walgreens said they have the staff and supplies to handle “rare but severe” reactions.

“We have emergency management protocols in place that are required for all vaccine providers, which, following a clinical assessment, may include administering epinephrine, calling 911 and administering CPR, if needed,” Rebekah Pajak, a spokesperson for Walgreens, said in an email.

If the vaccine sites have appropriately trained staffers, plus adequate supplies and equipment, the vast majority of people should opt for the shot, especially as the pandemic continues to surge, said Dr. David Lang, immediate past president of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology and chairman of the department of immunology at the Cleveland Clinic.

“The overwhelming likelihood is that you won’t have anaphylaxis and the overwhelming benefit far exceeds the risk for harm,” Lang said.

Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation which is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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Is Your Connected Community of Care Truly Making a Difference?

Is Your Community Ready to be Connected?
Dr. Keith Kosel, Vice President at Parkland Center for Clinical Innovation (PCCI)

Connected Communities of Care Definition: An innovative method for effective population health management using social determinants of health. A way to streamline effective coordination between medical, government, and community-based organizations.


We ask this type of question every day. For example, we may ask― “Is this product that I purchased making a difference?” or “Is this advanced training that I completed making a difference?” Implicit in this common question is the expectation that because we have made an investment in something to achieve a result, the result should be better or more improved than the pre-investment state. So too with a Connected Community of Care (CCC). As I have discussed in previous blogs, establishing a CCC requires a substantial investment in both time and money.

Therefore, it is only natural to ask― “Is this CCC making a difference, and how would I know?” Unfortunately, most CCCs are established with very little forethought given to this exact question. While we expect the CCC will help community residents improve their health and well-being, how will we know conclusively that this has happened? How will we demonstrate its impact to a potential partner or― more importantly― a funder? This is where data, measurement, and evaluation come into play. For most people, these three words cause anxiety levels to immediately rise. But this doesn’t need to be the case; a little planning and forethought can go a long way to assuaging one’s anxiety when asked the question, “Is your CCC making a difference?”

Before we think about what data we will need to answer this question or how we will collect it, we first need to establish what we mean by “making a difference”. Understand, there is no one correct answer to this question. What may constitute a positive difference or impact for one organization may be much different for another, even a similar organization. Many factors contribute to the final answer and each is usually organization-, ecosystem- and situation-specific.

In practice, there are many ways to define making a difference. First, we can look at quantitative or numeric information to make this determination. Are we providing more nutritious meals to indigent residents? Is the number of inappropriate Emergency Department visits declining or, conversely, is the number of residents having visits with a primary care provider increasing?

All of these effects can be counted and judged against some predefined goal (more on this later). Second, we can assess making a difference by asking the people that are being touched by the CCC. Through surveys or brief interviews, community residents can tell you in their own words what impact, if any, the CCC has on their lives.

While this qualitative (non-numeric) information can often be more informative than simple quantitative information because it represents the voice of the individual, to answer the question of whether your CCC is making a difference, you will also still likely need to establish numeric goals. A third way to assess whether your CCC is making a difference is indirect via the financial and non-financial opportunities that arise as a result of having a CCC versus not having one.

For example, having a CCC may make it much easier to perform contact tracing among vulnerable populations during a pandemic like COVID-19. Having a CCC may also enable a healthcare system or a community-based organization (CBO) to apply for a grant that it otherwise might not be competitively positioned to do if it did not have an integrated system of healthcare and social service providers such as a CCC.

Regardless of the approach to define making a difference, the importance of planning for 1) what things will be measured to generate the necessary data, 2) how and when that measurement will take place, and 3) how the resulting data will be analyzed and evaluated, cannot be underestimated. Similarly, these decisions cannot be put off until a later date as is often seen with start-ups, including CCCs. While it is natural to want to focus on the more immediate needs associated with launching a CCC, deferring the question of how we will know if the entity is making a difference can prove costly, both from an operational and financial perspective.

At the Parkland Center for Clinical Innovation (PCCI) we encourage those planning a CCC to devote the necessary time early on to setting performance goals and objectives and determining how and when they will be measured and evaluated. While it is important to explicitly build this step into your CCC planning phase, the scope and scale of the work does not have to be extensive.

In fact, at PCCI we strongly encourage CCCs to start small with a limited set of goals, objectives, and requisite measures and then scale up as the CCC grows and matures. This approach has the dual benefit of providing essential core information early on while also not overwhelming the CCC staff with data collection activities that may be a distraction from more pressing, day-to-day activities.

Based on this author’s work with literally hundreds of healthcare and social service provider organizations, experience suggests that most entities (both new and established organizations) do best if they initially establish 1) a limited number of goals― one or two at most, 2) a similar number of objectives to achieve each goal, and 3) no more than three to four performance measures to support each goal.

While this may seem like an insufficient number of performance elements in today’s data-obsessed world, remember that you can always add additional goals, objectives, and measures as your expertise and comfort levels allow and as your CCC evolves.

Even more important than the numbers, however, it is essential to get the selection of the goals, objectives, and performance measures correct. Each of these three performance elements plays an essential role in helping you answer the question “Is my CCC making a difference?”

Your goals focus on the long-term― what do you ultimately want to happen, while your objectives are the short-term accomplishments that help you achieve your goals. In both cases, you must be sure that what you are expecting is both realistic and appropriate for your CCC’s stage of development. For example, assuming a newly established CCC will reduce ED utilization in its first year or two may not be reasonable and may lead to frustration and disillusionment if the goal is not achieved. If you select a BHAG (Big Harry Audacious Goal), you must allow sufficient time (and then some) for all the necessary pieces to come together.

The rule of thumb for large-scale demonstration projects such as launching a CCC is that they 1) take (much) longer than expected, 2) cost more than budgeted, and 3) generally initially deliver less than expected. These facts should not dissuade you from your journey, but rather help you keep things in perspective as the project evolves to one that in the long-term is viewed as valuable in achieving your goals.

If getting the goals and objectives correct is important, then selecting the correct performance measures and designing a feasible measurement plan is paramount. Here again, quality is more important than quantity. A few well-chosen performance measures, implemented correctly, will generate far more in the way of actionable data than a plethora of randomly selected measures.

To optimize your ability to assess if your CCC is making a difference, your performance measures should be collected at regular intervals following the launch of the CCC. While many established programs collect, analyze, and evaluate performance data on a quarterly basis, for fledgling CCCs, PCCI recommends this data be collected monthly for at least the first one to two years or until the CCC reaches a stable level of operations.

While monthly data collection requires a little more work, the more frequent feedback allows you to make the necessary program or operational modifications more quickly and with fewer disruptions than that afforded with quarterly feedback. If measurement and evaluation is an area where you don’t have a lot of experience, reach out to others that do, especially individuals and organizations such as PCCI that have experience assessing performance in large-scale, multi-sector collaborative projects.

While we all hope that the answer to the question “Is my CCC making a difference” is yes, the answer may be no early on in the life of a CCC. As disheartening as this news may be, it’s important to not give up but to look critically at what is working and what is not and make adjustments where necessary.

Usually, this examination does not necessitate a complete “reboot” of the CCC initiative, but rather requires making minor changes accompanied by paying closer attention to the CCC’s operations. Seek feedback from your staff and those you serve and be open to change, where change is warranted. As indicated, these types of projects take a lot longer to reach fruition than most people believe, but with a solid plan, patience, and flexibility, you will be able to answer, “Yes, my CCC is definitively making a difference in the lives of the community residents it serves.”


About Dr. Keith Kosel

Dr. Keith Kosel is a Vice President at Parkland Center for Clinical Innovation (PCCI) and is the author of “Building Connected Communities of Care: The Playbook for Streamlining Effective Coordination Between Medical and Community-Based Organizations,” a guide that brings together communities to support our most vulnerable. At PCCI, Keith is leveraging his passion for – and extensive experience in – patient safety, quality, and population health by focusing on understanding social determinants of health and the impact of community-based interventions in improving the health of vulnerable and underserved populations.

M&A: TigerConnect Acquires Hospital Middleware Solution Critical Alert

M&A: TigerConnect Acquires Hospital Middleware Solution Critical Alert

What You Should Know:

– TigerConnect has announced an expansion in their suite
through the acquisition of Critical Alert, a leading provider of
enterprise-grade middleware for hospitals and health systems.

– For the hundreds of thousands of nurses that currently
use TigerConnect, these new capabilities will deliver real-time, contextual
information to their mobile device or desktop to allow them to work smarter,
prioritize responses, and efficiently coordinate care, all within the same
reliable TigerConnect platform they use every day for enterprise messaging.


 TigerConnect®,
a care team collaboration solution, today announced the acquisition
of Critical Alert, a Jacksonville,
FL-based leading provider of enterprise-grade middleware for hospitals and
health systems. Critical Alert’s product suite consists of a middleware suite
of products as well as traditional nurse call hardware servicing over 200
hospitals in North America. Financial details of the acquisition were not
disclosed.

Real-Time Care Team Collaboration for Hospitals

Founded in 1983, Cloud-native and mobile-first, Critical
Alert’s middleware solution enables any health system to combine nurse call,
alarm and event management, medical device interoperability, and clinical
workflow analytics.  TigerConnect will integrate Critical
Alert’s middleware stack into its platform to power a wide range of alert types
and alarm management enhancements for TigerConnect’s customers. Critical
Alert’s Nurse Call hardware business will continue to operate under its
namesake as a standalone business unit.  

When combined with Critical Alert’s middleware, TigerConnect dramatically
enhances the value proposition to nursing, IT leadership, and end-users. This ‘dream
suite’ of capabilities comes at a time when nurse burnout is at a record high
and chronic nurse shortages are severely challenging organizations’ ability to
deliver the best quality care.

“We see the Critical Alert acquisition as highly strategic and
a natural evolution of our already-robust collaboration
platform,” said Brad Brooks, CEO and co-founder of TigerConnect. “For the
hundreds of thousands of nurses that currently use TigerConnect, these new
capabilities will deliver real-time, contextual information to their mobile
device or desktop to allow them to work smarter, prioritize responses, and
efficiently coordinate care, all within the same reliable TigerConnect platform
they use every day for enterprise messaging.”

Post-Acquisition Plans

Joining TigerConnect is Critical Alert CEO John
Elms, who will assume the role as TigerConnect Chief Product Officer,
guiding the integration of the two companies’ technologies and leading the
development of all future product offerings. Wil Lukens, currently VP of Sales
for Critical Alert, will assume the role of General Manager of Critical Alert’s
traditional Nurse Call hardware unit. 

“The timing of the deal and the fit of these two companies aligned perfectly,” said John Elms, CEO of Critical Alert. “Two best-in-class, highly complementary solutions coming together to solve some of the chronic challenges—alarm fatigue, response prioritization, resource optimization—that have driven nurse teams to the brink. Together, these unified technologies will make care professionals’ lives easier, not harder, and I couldn’t be more excited to lead the TigerConnect product organization into this next chapter.”

Critical Alert Integration with TigerConnect Plans

TigerConnect’s robust product suite, which includes care
team collaboration (TigerFlow®), on-call scheduling (TigerSchedule®), virtual
care/telemedicine (TigerTouch®), and now virtualized nurse call and
alerts/alarm management (Critical Alert middleware), will help transform
hospitals and healthcare organizations into the real-time health systems of the
future. 

Hardware-free Middleware Forms the Foundation

With a shared cloud-native approach, Critical Alert’s
advanced middleware seamlessly fuses TigerConnect’s care team
collaboration with alarm management and event notifications. Deep
enterprise-level integrations with hospital systems enable the centralization
of clinical workflow management and real-time analytics. Integrating these
systems will have a sizable impact on customer organizations’ productivity and
patient care.

Next Generation Nurse Call

Critical Alert’s nurse call solution brings a modern, badly
needed upgrade to legacy systems, extending both their life and feature-set. A
single mobile- or desktop-enabled user-interface brings vital contextual
information about requests while allowing for centralized answering of nurse
call alerts and management of workflows and assignments. These streamlined
workflows reduce noise and clinical interruptions while improving
responsiveness.

Physiological Monitoring – Less Noise, More Signal

The FDA-cleared offering intelligently routes context-rich
alarm notifications from clinical systems to TigerFlow+. An easy-to-use
workflow builder ensures alerts are prioritized accordingly and are routed to
the appropriate caregiver, suppressing unnecessary noise. The filtering,
mobilization, and escalation of alerts pairs with TigerConnect Teams,
allowing for prompt responses in critical situations.

Smart Bed Alarms for Enhanced Patient Safety

Integrations with popular smart bed systems provide remote
monitoring of bed status details, informing nurses whether they should walk or
run to a patient’s room. Staff can review and adjust bed compliance settings
from their mobile device and receive fall prevention notifications if safe-bed
configuration is compromised.

Real-time Location System (RTLS) Measures What Matters

The integration of RTLS with a deployed nurse call
application greatly enhances the data available to clinical leadership. The
combined TigerConnect/Critical Alert offering enables real-time tracking
of staff location (presence) and time spent on tasks, providing deeper insights
into resource planning, workflow effectiveness and ongoing process improvement
initiatives.

Advanced Analytics for Deeper Workflow Insights

A better understanding of patient behavior and workflows
helps reveal areas for optimization that can lead to improved patient care and
staff efficacy. The new combined platform capabilities centralize the
collection and tracking of patient event data and nurse task efficiency,
turning insights into action. Advanced analytics also allow for identifying,
documenting, and benchmarking responsiveness, compliance, resource allocation,
and patient throughput across the health system. 

Availability

This new integrated functionality is expected to be
available to TigerConnect customers in Q1 of 2021.

Gaps in Clinical Communication, Document Exchange Lead to Gaps in Care

Gaps in Clinical Communication, Document Exchange Lead to Gaps in Care
John Harrison, Chief Commercial Officer of Concord Technologies

Communication problems and inadequate information flow are two of the most common root causes of medical errors. The potential for miscommunication and faulty exchange of information in healthcare is substantial. 

Consider: patient information is dispersed among multiple providers and payers along the continuum of care. Electronic Health Records (EHRs) and other clinical systems do not capture patient information or format medical documentation in a standardized manner. In an environment with incompatible systems, the easiest way for healthcare organizations to exchange records is to generate those records in a document format. It is not surprising then that many healthcare organizations are still heavily dependent on traditional, paper-based fax, which adds its own challenges to the process. Fax hardware and communication equipment are often unreliable, resulting in document delivery failures and delays. 

As a result, an inadequate information flow can cause problems that impact the availability of essential knowledge needed for prescribing decisions, timely and reliable delivery of test results, and coordination of medical orders. The ensuing administrative and medical errors raise healthcare costs and may lead to poor health outcomes, including patient harm and readmissions.

The reality of mundane, manual processes 

Document-based information exchange processes are highly inefficient. Staff often print and copy documents, creating a risk of accidental exposure of protected health information and resulting in needless costs. Moreover, documents – whether printed or stored on a workstation or server – still require manual data entry into EHRs and practice management systems. The tasks are tedious, prone to error, and negatively impact workflow, staff efficiency, physicians, and patients, and may lead to the following: 

– Patient record errors, including filing or documenting information in the wrong patient file, and data entry errors;

– Poorly documented or lost test results; and

– Gaps in communication during transitions of care from one healthcare provider or setting to another. 

In addition to these areas of concern that threaten patient safety, inbound documents often contain a lot of information on clinical, administrative, and financial matters that aren’t necessarily relevant to an intended recipient. That means a recipient must review all pages of the document and separate needed information from extraneous ones, which can further delay processing and patient transitions of care.

Smarter, faster document processing with AI

Healthcare providers need a document exchange and processing strategy that enables fully digital, secure, and efficient communication among numerous, highly customized EHRs, each with its own workflows and document processing preferences. 

Such a strategy needs to include moving away from paper to fully digital documents. Healthcare organizations can accomplish this easily and without the need to overhaul the entire existing health IT infrastructure. The two main ways of transitioning from paper to digital are using digital fax instead of traditional fax and document imaging when documents are simply scanned into the system. In many cases, the resulting document format will be a TIFF image; and while it is not machine-readable, it enables paperless filing of clinical documents to the EHR

Alternatively, converting the document into a readable format, such as a searchable PDF, will allow the healthcare organization to add value in document processing at every subsequent step. Making the document readable enables automatic identification of the type of document, data extraction, including patient name, medical record, date of birth, and physician name, as well as more effective management of the overall lifecycle of the document.

This step requires the utilization of AI and natural language processing techniques. Automatic extraction of data replaces the human labor required to manually index the information, which streamlines the triaging of documents to correct systems, teams, or recipients. 

For example, if a digital document is clearly labeled as a discharge summary for John Harrison, a staff member can process it much easier and faster than when she has to open and read it to understand the type of the document and the identity of the patient. By mostly automating the receiving, reading, classifying, and triaging of medical documentation, providers are able to save time and ensure information is received and processed quickly by the right person, which typically means that the patient can be better served.

The COVID-19 pandemic has only driven home the need for seamless, 100%-digital exchange of patient information. If healthcare administrators depend on the physical fax machine to do their jobs, they won’t be able to work remotely. Most people don’t have fax machines at home, and especially fax machines routed to the hospital’s number, to be able to print information and then manually scan and enter that information into the patient’s health record. A fully digital document processing approach enables agility and flexibility necessary in the modern healthcare environment. 

Moreover, recent ransomware attacks in the form of malware embedded into email attachments sent to users in hospitals lead to providers blocking inbound email attachments altogether. That means providers could not access their own patient data, let alone data from other institutions. As a result, emergency patients may have to be taken to other hospitals, and surgeries and other procedures delayed. Cloud-based platforms enable users to securely access patient information outside of the hospital’s network.

Small steps lead to big results 

It’s essential from both a patient safety perspective and provider efficiency perspective that the exchange and processing of medical documentation be digitized. The benefits of digital document processing are significant, enabling fluid information exchange among all stakeholders.  

By transitioning to fully digital document exchange, providers can significantly streamline administrative and clinical processes. The key to realizing the benefits of this approach is to take the first step by moving away from paper and then build on that by harnessing the power of AI to fully support the daily work of clinicians and administrators. Outbound and inbound documents can be prioritized, addressed, processed, and delivered appropriately, facilitating timely information exchange for processing prescriptions, medical orders, billing, reporting, analytics, research, and much more. 


About John Harrison

As Chief Commercial Officer at Concord Technologies, John is responsible for the company’s revenue growth and brand development, ensuring Concord continues to create the right products to meet the needs of its customers. John brings more than 25 years of document communication and automation experience to the team. Prior to joining Concord, John held executive management positions at OpenText, Captaris, and Goaldata, overseeing business operations across multiple continents.


COVID Vaccines Appear Safe and Effective, but Key Questions Remain

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The recent rollout of two newly authorized COVID-19 vaccines is a bright ray of hope at the pandemic’s darkest hour.

We now have a path that can lead us to happier times — even as we watch and suffer from the horrible onslaught of new infections, hospitalizations and deaths that mark the end of this regrettable year.

Health care workers and nursing home residents have already begun to get shots in the first phase of the rollout. Vaccinations should start to be available to the general public sometime in the first few months of next year.

The two vaccines — one developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, the other by Moderna — use the same novel genetic approach. Their development in under a year, shattering all records, is a marvel of science. It’s also a cause for concern for millions of Americans who fear the uncertainty of an unknown technology.

The clinical trial data for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines show that when both shots of the dual-injection immunization are taken, three weeks to a month apart, they are about 95% effective — at least at preventing severe COVID illness.

However, “a vaccine that remains in the vial is 0% effective no matter what the data show,” says Dr. Walter Orenstein, a professor of infectious diseases at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta and associate director of the Emory Vaccine Center.

Hence, the imperative of persuading millions of people, across racial, cultural, religious, political and generational lines, to get immunized when a vaccine becomes available to them. A survey published this month showed 45% of respondents are taking a wait-and-see approach to vaccination.

Because the vaccines were developed under duress as the coronavirus exacted its deadly toll, the premium was on speed — “warp speed.” So although the number of people in the trials is as large as or larger than in previous vaccine trials, some key questions won’t be answered until millions more are vaccinated.

For example, we don’t know to what extent the vaccines will keep us from transmitting or contracting the virus — though the protection from potentially fatal illness they are likely to confer is in itself something of a miracle.

We don’t know whether irreversible side effects might emerge, or who is at higher risk from them. And we don’t know whether we’ll need to get vaccinated every year, every three years, or never again.

These unknowns add to the challenges faced by the federal government, local health authorities, medical professionals and private sector entities as they seek to persuade people across the broadest possible swath of the population to get a vaccine.

Skepticism resides in many quarters, including among African Americans, many of whom have a long-standing mistrust of the medical world; the vocal “anti-vaxxers”; and people of all stripes with perfectly understandable doubts. Not to mention communities with language barriers and immigrants without documents — more than 2 million strong in California — who may fear coming forward.

Here are answers to some questions you might be asking yourself about the new vaccines:

Q: How can I be sure they’re safe?

There’s no ironclad guarantee. But the federal Food and Drug Administration, in authorizing the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, determined that their benefits outweighed their risks.

The side effects observed in trial participants were common to other vaccines: pain at the injection site, fatigue, headache, muscle pain and chills. “Those are minor side effects, and the benefit is not dying from this disease,” says Dr. George Rutherford, a professor of epidemiology at the University of California-San Francisco.

Saturday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported six cases of anaphylactic allergic reaction in the first 272,000 people who got the Pfizer vaccine outside the clinical trials. This has led the CDC to recommend that people receiving the vaccine be observed for up to 30 minutes afterward.

It’s possible other unexpected adverse effects could pop up down the road. “The chances are low, but they are not zero,” says Orenstein. There’s not enough data yet to know if the vaccines pose an elevated risk to pregnant or lactating women, for example, or to immunocompromised people, such as those with HIV. And we know very little about the effects in children, who were not in the initial trials and for whom the vaccines are not authorized.

Q: Why should my family and I take it?

First of all, because you will protect yourselves from the possibility of severe illness or even death. Also, by getting vaccinated you will be doing your part to achieve a vaccination rate high enough to end the pandemic. Nobody knows exactly what percentage of the population needs to get inoculated for that to happen, but infectious disease experts put the number somewhere between 60% and 70% — perhaps even a little higher. Think of it as a civic duty to get your shots.

Q: So, when can I get mine?

It depends on your health status, age and work. In the first phase, already underway, health care workers and nursing home residents are getting vaccinated. The 40 million Moderna and Pfizer doses expected to be available by year’s end should immunize most of them.

Next in line are people 75 and older and essential workers in various public-facing jobs. They will be followed by people ages 65-74 and those under 65 with certain medical conditions that put them at high risk. Enough vaccine could be available for the rest of the population by late spring, but summer or even fall is more likely. Already, some distribution bottlenecks have developed.

On the bright side, two other vaccines — one from Johnson & Johnson, the other from AstraZeneca and Oxford University — could win FDA authorization early next year, significantly increasing the supply.

Q: Once I’m vaccinated, can I finally stop wearing a mask and physical distancing?

No. Especially not early on, before a lot of people have been vaccinated. One reason for that is self-protection. The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are 95% effective, but that means you still have a 5% chance of falling ill if you are exposed to someone who hasn’t been vaccinated — or who has been but is still transmitting the virus.

Another reason is to protect others, since you could be the one shedding virus despite the vaccination.

Q: I’ve already had COVID-19, so I don’t need the vaccine, right?

We don’t know for sure how long exposure to the virus protects you from reinfection. Protection probably lasts at least a few months, but public health experts say it’s a good idea to get vaccinated when your turn comes up — especially if it’s been many months since you tested positive.

There’s been some talk among health officials of pushing those who’ve been infected in the last 90 days or so toward the back of the line, to ensure adequate supply for those who might be at higher risk.

Q: How long before our lives get back to normal?

“If everything goes well, next Thanksgiving might be near normal, and we might be getting close to that by the summer,” says Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of infectious diseases at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee. ”But there would have to be substantial acceptance of the vaccine and data showing the virus moving in a downward direction.”

This story was produced by KHN, which publishes California Healthline, an editorially independent service of the California Health Care Foundation.

Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation which is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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5 Steps for Interoperability Excellence for Healthcare Providers

5 Steps for Interoperability Excellence for Healthcare Providers
Shanti Wilson, Consultant, Freed Associates 

As if 2020 couldn’t be
any more challenging for healthcare providers, new federal rules on
interoperability and patient access, granting patients direct access to their healthcare
data, begin taking effect this November and continue into 2022. These rules,
while ultimately beneficial to patients, bring an additional level of
operational complexity to many revenue-stressed healthcare organizations. 

If anything, the 2020 pandemic has illustrated the vast potential of interoperability. For example, consider the huge increase in 2020 in virtual care visits, projected to be more than 1 billion by year’s end, and with an estimated 90% related to Covid-19. Many of these new virtual health patients will move through different care networks, using different health plans, and seeking remote access to their health records. These are precisely the type of patients’ interoperability is meant to help. 

What should healthcare providers be doing now to ensure they’re not only compliant with new interoperability rules, but also applying them as optimally as possible to benefit their patients and organizations? In this article, we review the upcoming rules and suggest five key steps providers can take to ensure their interoperability implementations proceed as smoothly as possible.  

What’s Ahead with
Interoperability? 

After several years of discussion on interoperability standards, the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Healthcare IT and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued their final rules on interoperability in the spring of 2020. The new rules, covering both health systems and health plans, are intended to ensure that patients can electronically access their healthcare information regardless of health system or type of electronic health records (EHR) and covering all CMS-regulated plan types, including Medicare Advantage, CHIP, and the Federally Facilitated Exchanges. 

Starting Nov. 2, 2020, healthcare systems must begin complying with interoperability rules preventing information blocking, which means not interfering with patients’ access to or use of their electronic health information. Providers must also attest they are acting “in good faith” regarding preventing information blocking, with any non-compliance flagged on the National Plan and Provider Enumeration System. By May 1, 2021, hospitals, psychiatric hospitals, and critical access hospitals with an EHR must send notification of their patients’ admission, discharge, and transfer (ADT) events to providers. 

Interoperability will replace the current fragmented and error-prone ways of exchanging vital healthcare information. Near-term benefits of interoperability include improved care coordination and patient experience, greater patient safety, and stronger patient privacy and security. Longer-term benefits include higher provider productivity, reduced healthcare costs, and more accurate public health data.  

For providers, the good
news about interoperability is that they’ve had years to think about and
implement many of its fundamental tenets, based on their work meeting
meaningful use requirements. That’s borne out in a 2019 HIMSS survey of
healthcare organizations which found nearly 75% of respondents past the
“foundational” level of interoperability – “foundational” defined as allowing
data exchange from one IT
system to another, but without data interpretation.  

Five Steps for
Interoperability Excellence 

While healthcare systems
will achieve significant interoperability gains through technology investments,
they should not consider technology as the ultimate sole key to
interoperability success. If anything, financial and political considerations
may be far more important to your organization’s interoperability success. Here
are five critical non-technology factors to consider: 

1. Determine your “master”
interoperability strategy

All pertinent stakeholders in your organization should be on the same page about your interoperability strategy, resources, and timing. Know up-front that those implementing interoperability may not have previously worked with patient-centric analytics, partners, or departments in your organization. Plan your resources and timing accordingly. Your strategy should focus on the value-add of interoperability internally, such as access to additional data points on your patients, and externally, such as how you describe the upcoming benefits of interoperability to your patients.

2. Convey your vision, expectations
and expected return

An interoperability implementation is
a massive change management initiative, which requires continuous, top-down
leadership and championship, and proper expectation-setting. Communicate where
your organization currently stands regarding its interoperability capabilities,
and where you wish to have it go. Convey how the organization plans to get to
its future desired state. And perhaps most importantly, share the likely return
on investment in this effort. Be as specific as possible. For example, if you
believe interoperability gains will ultimately enable a 5% decrease in your
hospital readmissions, state that.

3. Examine workflows and identify
specific use cases

Every type of ADT event in your
organization, and its corresponding workflows and system interactions, should
be under review. Consider all types of clinical use cases, the types of data to
be exchanged, and those involved in providing patient care. This will help
determine your optimal approach to data-sharing and how your organization can
strategically use the additional data you receive from other health
systems. 

4. Rigorously prep your data

Standardized data collection and reporting
which produces quality data is the heart and soul of successful
interoperability. Be sure your organization’s data is clean and meaningful, and
will ultimately be understandable and useful to your patients. 

5. Think big-picture differentiation

There’s nothing in the ONC and CMS
interoperability rules that says you need to stop at mere rules compliance.
Consider your pursuit of interoperability as a singular opportunity to be a
patient-centric leader in your market. Let everyone relevant know of the
success you’ve achieved. 

While interoperability
offers a chance for healthcare systems to achieve multiple operational gains,
when handled well, it is ultimately a patient-centric endeavor. Always keep the
needs and interests of your patients at the core when facilitating access to
their personal health data. It’s the ultimate smart long-term interoperability
strategy. 


Shanti Wilson is
a consultant with 
Freed Associates,
a California-based healthcare management consulting firm.
 

AHRQ and Google Pilot New Tool to Help Patients Plan for Medical Visits

AHRQ and Google Pilot New Tool to Help Patients Plan for Medical Visits

What You Should Know:

– Built-in collaboration with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), Google is piloting a new tool to help patients plan for medical visits.

– The new Google visit planning tool makes it easy for
patients and those who care for them to privately list and prioritize their
questions in preparation for a medical visit.

– The suggested questions, developed by AHRQ as part of its “Questions are the Answer” initiative, is designed to get people thinking about their goals and priorities for the visit.


Today, Google announced it is piloting
a new online tool to help patients plan for medical visits as part of an ongoing
collaboration with  Agency
for Healthcare Research and Quality
 (AHRQ), part of the U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services.

How It Works

The new Google visit planning tool is built on the same
evidence behind AHRQ’s QuestionBuilder app. The new tool will make it easy for
patients and caretakers to develop a visit plan by selecting from
evidence-based questions like, “What is this test for?” as well as adding their
own questions. When people use Google to search for a healthcare provider, they
will have the option to create their own private visit plan. Once completed,
patients can print or email the visit plan and bring it to the doctor’s office
to help them remember important questions they want to ask. In addition, the
visit plan also includes a reminder of things patients should bring to the
visit, like a list of current medications, recent lab results, and their insurance
card.

Private & Secure

The tool does not gather any personal health information or
store any of the information that is entered into the tool. People have the
option to print or email their visit plan, and people can use this tool without
signing into a Google account.

Why It Matters

“Patients who prepare for medical visits by prioritizing their questions, strengthen their role as members of their own health care team,” said Jeffrey Brady, M.D., M.P.H., a preventive medicine physician and Director of the Center for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety at the AHRQ. Dr. Brady added, “This helps clinicians maximize their time with patients so they can better address their most critical health needs. Clinicians appreciate that healthcare can be more efficient, effective, and higher quality when they work together with patients.”

Availability

This tool is currently in the pilot phase and is only available to a limited number of people in the United States and will expand to more users over time.

NLP is Raising the Bar on Accurate Detection of Adverse Drug Events

NLP is Raising the Bar on Accurate Detection of Adverse Drug Events
 David Talby, CTO, John Snow Labs

Each year, Adverse Drug Events (ADE) account for nearly 700,000 emergency department visits and 100,000 hospitalizations in the US alone. Nearly 5 percent of hospitalized patients experience an ADE, making them one of the most common types of inpatient errors. What’s more, many of these instances are hard to discover because they are never reported. In fact, the median under-reporting rate in one meta-analysis of 37 studies was 94 percent. This is especially problematic given the negative consequences, which include significant pain, suffering, and premature death.

While healthcare providers and pharmaceutical companies conduct clinical trials to discover adverse reactions before selling their products, they are typically limited in numbers. This makes post-market drug safety monitoring essential to help discover ADE after the drugs are in use in medical settings. Fortunately, the advent of electronic health records (EHR) and natural language processing (NLP) solutions have made it possible to more effectively and accurately detect these prevalent adverse events, decreasing their likelihood and reducing their impact. 

Not only is this important for patient safety, but also from a business standpoint. Pharmaceutical companies are legally required to report adverse events – whether they find out about them from patient phone calls, social media, sales conversations with doctors, reports from hospitals, or any other channel. As you can imagine, this would be a very manual and tedious task without the computing power of NLP – and likely an unintentionally inaccurate one, too. 

The numbers reflect the importance of automated NLP technology, too: the global NLP in healthcare and life sciences market size is forecasted to grow from $1.5 billion in 2020 to $3.7 billion by 2025, more than doubling in the next five years. The adoption of prevalent cloud-based NLP solutions is a major growth factor here. In fact, 77 percent of respondents from a recent NLP survey indicated that they use ​at least one​ of the four major NLP cloud providers, Google is the most used. But, despite their popularity, respondents cited cost and accuracy as key challenges faced when using cloud-based solutions for NLP.

It goes without saying that accuracy is vital when it comes to matters as significant as predicting adverse reactions to medications, and data scientists agree. The same survey found that more than 40 percent of all respondents cited accuracy as the most important criteria they use to evaluate NLP solutions, and a quarter of respondents cited accuracy as the main criteria they used when evaluating NLP cloud services. Accuracy for domain-specific NLP problems (like healthcare) is a challenge for cloud providers, who only provide pre-trained models with limited training and tuning capabilities. This presents some big challenges for users for several reasons. 

Human language very contexts- and domain-specific, making it especially painful when a model is trained for general uses of words but does not understand how to recognize or disambiguate terms-of-art for a specific domain. In this case, speech-to-text services for video transcripts from a DevOps conference might identify the word “doctor” for the name “Docker,” which degrades the accuracy of the technology. Such errors may be acceptable when applying AI to marketing or online gaming, but not for detecting ADEs. 

In contrast, models have to be trained on medical terms and understand grammatical concepts, such as negation and conjunction. Take, for example, a patient saying, “I feel a bit drowsy with some blurred vision, but am having no gastric problems.” To be effective, models have to be able to relate the adverse events to the patient and specific medication that caused the aforementioned symptoms. This can be tricky because as the previous example sentence illustrates, the medication is not mentioned, so the model needs to correctly infer it from the paragraphs around it.

This gets even more complex, given the need for collecting ADE-related terms from various resources that are not composed in a structured manner. This could include a tweet, news story, transcripts or CRM notes of calls between a doctor and a pharmaceutical sales representative, or clinical trial reports. Mining large volumes of data from these sources have the power to expose serious or unknown consequences that can help detect these reactions. While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for this, new enhancements in NLP capabilities are helping to improve this significantly. 

Advances in areas such as Named Entity Recognition (NER) and Classification, specifically, are making it easier to achieve more timely and accurate results. ADE NER models enable data scientists to extract ADE and drug entities from a given text, and ADE classifiers are trained to automatically decide if a given sentence is, in fact, a description of an ADE. The combination of NER and classifier and the availability of pre-trained clinical pipeline for ADE tasks in NLP libraries can save users from building such models and pipelines from scratch, and put them into production immediately. 

In some cases, the technology is pre-trained with tuned Clinical BioBERT embeddings, the most effective contextual language model in the clinical domain today. This makes these models more accurate than ever – improving on the latest state-of-the-art research results on standard benchmarks. ADE NER models can be trained on different embeddings, enabling users to customize the system based on the desired tradeoff between available compute power and accuracy. Solutions like this are now available in hundreds of pre-trained pipelines for multiple languages, enabling a global impact.

As we patiently await a vaccine for the deadly Coronavirus, there have been few times in history in which understanding drug reactions are more vital to global health than now. Using NLP to help monitor reactions to drug events is an effective way to identify and act on adverse reactions earlier, save healthcare organizations money, and ultimately make our healthcare system safer for patients and practitioners.


About David Talby

David Talby, Ph.D., MBA, is the CTO of John Snow Labs. He has spent his career making AI, big data, and data science solve real-world problems in healthcare, life science, and related fields. John Snow Labs is an award-winning AI and NLP company, accelerating progress in data science by providing state-of-the-art models, data, and platforms. Founded in 2015, it helps healthcare and life science companies build, deploy, and operate AI products and services.

An Important New Resource for Food Allergy Sufferers

An Important New Resource for Food Allergy Sufferers

Food allergies are a growing food safety and public health concern, and more precise data are required to unravel all of the scientific & quality-of-life issues surrounding food allergies. AAFA’s new Food Allergy Patient & Family Registry will help do just that.

The Doctor Weighs In

Lean on Your Connected Community of Care in Times of Crisis

Is Your Community Ready to be Connected?
Dr. Keith Kosel, Vice President at Parkland Center for Clinical Innovation (PCCI)

We’ve all experienced crises in our lives. They may be personal in nature (e.g., involving our interpersonal relationships), organizational (e.g., relating to our employment or retirement income), or nature-made (e.g., floods, tornados, or the COVID-19 pandemic). When crises hit our communities, the impacts can be widespread and far-reaching. Healthcare providers and community-based organizations (CBOs) are called upon to provide more rapid and extensive care and support to the community than is otherwise the norm. A well-established and highly functioning Connected Community of Care (CCC), as is the case here in Dallas, Texas, can provide a tremendous strategic and tactical advantage over non-connected peers.

Since 2014, the Parkland Center for Clinical Innovation (PCCI) has led an effort to bring together several large healthcare systems and a number of regional social-service organizations such as food banks, homeless assistance associations, and transportation service vendors, along with over 100 smaller CBOs (i.e., neighborhood food pantries, crisis centers, utility assistance centers) and area faith-based organizations to form the Dallas CCC. Over time, civic organizations, such as the Community Council of Greater Dallas, Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS), and select academic institutions have begun to participate in various community-wide projects under the Dallas CCC umbrella.

Central to the success of the Dallas CCC are the partnerships that have been formed between the CBOs and a number of local healthcare systems (Parkland Health & Hospital System [Parkland], Baylor Scott & White Health, Children’s Medical Center, Methodist Health System, and Metrocare Services), clinical practices, and other ancillary healthcare providers serving the Dallas metroplex. These partnerships have proved essential in building a truly comprehensive and functional network aimed at improving both the health and well-being of Dallas residents.

Connecting these various entities and forming a two-way communication pathway is an electronic information exchange platform termed Pieces™ Connect, which allows for real-time, two-way sharing of information pertaining to an individual’s social and healthcare needs, history, and preferences. The information exchange platform is the glue that holds the physical network together and provides one of the mechanisms to disseminate information from public health and healthcare entities to social service providers in the community. It allows the individual community resident, via the CBO, to become better informed about important health issues, such as routine vaccinations or preventive care, such as social distancing and proper mask usage during a pandemic.

Until recently, the primary mission of the Dallas CCC focused on addressing residents’ social determinants of health (SDOH) issues through providing community resources (e.g., food assistance, housing, transportation) to improve the lives of Dallas County residents. While this mission has become even more critical during the COVID-19 pandemic, the work of the Dallas CCChas also evolved to include identifying COVID-19 sites within the County and directing community outreach efforts to help stem the rapid spread of the virus.

The Dallas CCC has provided an innovative model of community governance and cooperation to impact the consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak. From the first days of the pandemic, PCCI has been working with Parkland and DCHHS to help reliably identify and quantify the geographic location and incidence rates of positive COVID-19 cases within Dallas County. This problem is especially challenging when considering vulnerable populations and the transitory nature of these residents in inner-city communities.

Working with data provided by DCHHS, the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council, and CBOs, PCCI built a series of dynamic geo-maps that were able to identify, at the neighborhood and block level, the location of hotspots of positive COVID-19 cases as well as attendant mortality rates. In addition to flagging at-risk patients and populations, the model continues to be used by public health and civic leaders to establish locations for testing sites within the city of Dallas based on COVID-19 incidence and community needs.

With the establishment of the hot-spotting, the next step was to get that information, along with general infection prevention protocols, in the hands of local CBOs to help raise awareness and slow the spread of the virus.  With the aforementioned information in hand, public health workers have been able to develop targeted communications and tactical strategies to improve containment efforts through community-wide awareness and educational messaging.

By connecting local CBOs and faith-based organizations with public health workers and clinicians, the Dallas CCC is facilitating effective contact tracing and the implementation of care plans for high-risk individuals in a more efficient and scalable manner.

The value of the CCC communication network linking healthcare providers and CBOs cannot be underestimated, as it represents a highly effective and efficient mechanism to disseminate leading practice information aimed directly at high-risk populations. We have seen first-hand that communications delivered to community residents through familiar food pantries, homeless shelters, and places of worship are much more effective than community-wide public information campaigns broadcast via radio or television.

This increased effectiveness is based on the fact that many of these at-risk individuals frequent the CBOs on a regular basis for essential services and these individuals know and trust the CBO staff delivering the information. From one-on-one conversations to displaying infographic posters and take-away educational leaflets, CBOs provide a ready avenue to communicate with at-risk individuals in the communities they serve.

As mentioned, early work in Dallas County is beginning to demonstrate the value of CCC in facilitating contact tracing. In this case, the challenge is not simply identifying the location of positive COVID-19 cases but having the ability to connect those cases to other individuals within the neighborhood or community who may have come in contact with the infected individual, all while working in an environment where individuals frequently move from one location to another. Having a well-established communication system at the local neighborhood level can be extremely helpful in identifying contacts and potential contacts.

It is well-known that many individuals in impoverished, underserved neighborhoods are reluctant to speak with individuals they don’t know or trust, especially if those individuals are affiliated with government agencies, no matter how well-intentioned the agency personnel may be. Staff members at local faith-based organizations and CBOs frequented by these vulnerable residents are a highly effective resource for identifying inter-personal relationships and connecting with those individuals, which is something that has proved challenging for public health staff when working outside of a CCC environment. In Dallas, CBOs, public health, and civic staffers, as well as medical student volunteers have all been partnering to help facilitate the contact tracing process with positive results.

CCC’s can materially improve the health and well-being of a community’s residents, especially in times of crisis. The take-away lesson is clear. If you already have a CCC, lean on it to help you through crises impacting your community. If you don’t have a CCC, now is the time to begin the process of establishing one in your community. Even with the challenges that the current pandemic is generating, it is possible to begin building your CCC.  Start small and gradually increase the CCC’s scope and scale; don’t be in a rush to grow. The most important thing is to take the plunge and begin the journey!


About Dr. Keith Kosel

Dr. Keith Kosel is a Vice President at Parkland Center for Clinical Innovation (PCCI) and is the author of “Building Connected Communities of Care: The Playbook for Streamlining Effective Coordination Between Medical and Community-Based Organizations,” a guide that brings together communities to support our most vulnerable. At PCCI, Keith is leveraging his passion for – and extensive experience in – patient safety, quality, and population health by focusing on understanding social determinants of health and the impact of community-based interventions in improving the health of vulnerable and underserved populations.

4 Ways to Combat Hidden Costs Associated with Delayed Patient Care During COVID-19

Matt Dickson, VP, Product, Strategy, and Communication Solutions at Stericycle
Matt Dickson, VP, Product, Strategy, and Communication Solutions at Stericycle

COVID-19 terms such as quarantine, flatten the curve, social distance, and personal protective equipment (PPE) have dominated headlines in recent months, but what hasn’t been discussed in length are the hidden costs of COVID-19 as it relates to patient adherence.  

The coronavirus pandemic has amplified this long-standing issue in healthcare as patients are delaying routine preventative and ongoing care for ailments such as mental health and chronic disease. Emergency care is also suffering at alarming rates. Studies show a 42 percent decline in emergency department visits, measuring the volume of 2.1 million visits per week between March and April 2019 to 1.2 million visits per week between March and April 2020. Patients are not seeking the treatment they need – and at what cost?

When the SARS outbreak occurred in 2002, particularly in Taiwan, there was a marked reduction in inpatient care and utilization as well as ambulatory care. Chronic-care hospitalizations for long-term conditions like diabetes plummeted during the SARS crisis but skyrocketed afterward. Similar to the 2002 epidemic, people are currently not venturing en masse to emergency rooms or hospitals, but if history repeats itself, hospital and ER visits will happen at an influx and create a new strain on the healthcare system.

So, if patients aren’t going to the ER or visiting their doctors regularly, where have they gone? They are staying at home. According to reports from the Kaiser Family Foundation, 28 percent of Americans polled said they or a family member delayed medical care due to the pandemic, and 11 percent indicated that their condition worsened as a result of the delayed care. Of note, 70 percent of consumers are concerned or very concerned about contracting COVID-19 when visiting healthcare facilities to receive care unrelated to the virus. There is a growing concern that patients will either see a relapse in their illness or will experience new complications when the pandemic subsides. 

Rather than brace for a tidal wave of patients, healthcare systems should proactively take steps (or act now) to drive patient access, action, and adherence.

1. Identify Who Needs to Care The Most 

Healthcare providers should consider risk stratifying patients. High-risk people, such as an 80-year-old male with comorbidities and recent cardiac bypass surgery, may require a hands-on and frequent outreach effort. A 20-year-old female, however, who comes in annually for her physical but is healthy, may not require that level of engagement. Understanding which patients are at risk for the potential for chronic conditions to become acute or patients who have a hard time staying on their care plan may need prioritized attention and a more thorough engagement effort. 

For example, patients with a history of mental health issues may lack motivation or momentum to seek care. Their disposition to be disengaged may require greater input to push past their disengagement.  

Especially important is the ability to educate and guide patients to the appropriate venue of care (ER, telehealth visit, in-person primary care visit, or urgent care) based on their self-reported symptoms.  Allowing patients to self-triage while scheduling appointments helps them make more informed decisions about their care while reducing the burden on over-utilized emergency departments.

2. Capture The Attention of The Intended Audience and Induce Action

Once you’ve identified who needs care the most, how do you break through the “information clutter” to ensure healthcare messages resonate with the intended audience? The more data points, the better. It is important to understand the age of the patient, their preferred communication channel, and the intended message for the recipient, but effective communication exceeds those three data points. Consider factors like the presence of mental health conditions, comorbidities, or health literacies. Then, think beyond the patient’s channel of choice and select the appropriate channel of communication (text, phone call, email, paid social media advertisement, etc.), that will most likely induce action. As an organization, also consider running A/B tests to detect and analyze behavior. As you collect more data, determine what exactly is inducing patient action. 

Of note, don’t underestimate the power of repetition. Patients may need to be reminded of the intended action a few times in a few different ways before moving forward with seeking the care they need. Repetition is also shown to decrease no-show rates, a critical metric. Proactive, prescriptive, and tailored communication will help increase engagement. Moving past the channel of choice and toward the channel of action is key.

3. Engage Patients Through Personalized and Tailored Communication 

In addition to identifying the right communication channel, it’s also important to ensure you deliver an effective message.  Communication with patients should be relevant to their particular medical needs while paying close attention to where each person is in their healthcare journey. Connecting with patients on both an emotional and rational level is also important. For example, sending a positive communication via phone, email, or text to lay the foundation for the interaction shows interest in the patient’s wellbeing. 

A “Hey, here’s why you need to come in” note makes a connection in a direct and personalized way. At the same time, and in a very pointed manner, sharing ways providers and health systems are keeping patients safe (e.g., telehealth, virtual waiting rooms, separate entrances, and mandating masks), also provides comfort to skittish patients. Additionally, consider all demographic information when tailoring communications. And don’t forget to analyze if changes in content impact no-show rates. Low overall literacy may impact health literacy and may require simpler and more positive words to positively impact adherence. 

It may sound daunting, especially for individual health systems, to personalize patient communication efforts, but the use of today’s data tools and technological advancements can relieve the burden and streamline efforts for an effective communication approach. 

4. Use Technology to Your Advantage (With Caution)

Once you have developed your communication strategy, don’t stop there.  Consider all aspects of the patient journey to drive action.  A virtual waiting room strategy, for example, can help ease patient concerns and encourage them to resume their care. Health systems can help patients make reservations, space out their arrival times, and safeguard social distancing measures—all while alleviating patient fears. Ideally, the patient would be able to seamlessly book an appointment and receive a specific arrival time, allowing ER staff to prepare for the patient’s arrival while minimizing onsite wait time.

When implemented properly, telehealth visits can also improve continuity of care, enhance provider efficiency, attract and retain patients who are seeking convenience, as well as appeal to those who would prefer not to travel to their healthcare facility for their visit. Providers need to determine which appointments can successfully be resolved virtually. Additionally, some patients might not have the means for a successful telehealth visit due to a lack of internet access, a language barrier, or a safe space to talk freely.

To ensure all patients receive quality care, health systems should make plans to serve patients who lack the technology or bandwidth to participate in video visits in an alternative manner. For example, monitor patients remotely by asking them to self-report basic information such as blood sugar levels, weight, and medication compliance via short message service (SMS). This gives providers the ability to continuously monitor their patients while enhancing patient safety, increasing positive outcomes, and enabling real-time escalation whenever clinical intervention is needed.

It is important we ensure all patients stay on track with their health, despite uncertain and fearful times. Health systems can enhance patient adherence and induce action through the implementation of tools that increase patient engagement and alleviate the impending strain on the healthcare system. 


About Matt Dickson

Matt Dickson is Vice President of Product, Strategy, and General Manager of Stericycle Communication Solutions, a patient engagement platform that seamlessly combines both voice and digital channels to provide the modern experience healthcare consumers want while solving complex challenges to patient access, action, and adherence. . He is a versatile leader with strong operational management experience and expertise providing IT, product, and process solutions in the healthcare industry for nearly 25 years. Find him on LinkedIn.

Kettering Health to Deploy Nuance’s AI-Driven Physician Documentation for ED

What You Should Know:

– Nuance Communications, Inc. announced the Kettering
Health Network has selected ED Guidance for Nuance Dragon Medical Advisor.

– This AI-powered computer-assisted physician
documentation (CAPD) solution will help reduce physicians’ administrative
burden while lowering the risk of adverse safety events, missing diagnoses, and
malpractice litigation – priorities for all physicians, especially in the ED
where the nature of care presents special challenges and risks.


Nuance
Communications, Inc.,
today announced that Kettering Health Network has
selected ED Guidance for Nuance Dragon Medical Advisor, an AI-powered computer-assisted
physician documentation (CAPD) solution
that gives emergency room
physicians workflow-integrated diagnostic and clinical best practices advice at
one of the earliest and most critical points of care.

Kettering Health is deploying ED Guidance for Nuance Dragon
Medical Advisor to improve patient safety, alleviate the administrative burden
on clinicians, and reduce the risk of missing diagnoses by:

– Extending the Nuance CAPD solution to physicians in its 12
full-service emergency centers through its existing use of the Nuance Dragon
Medical One HITRUST CSF-certified conversational AI platform for documenting
care in the electronic health record (EHR).

– Empowering physicians with integrated real-time,
evidence-based emergency medical guidance from The Sullivan Group.

– Supporting best-practices-based clinical decision-making
and accurate documentation of the severity of illness and acuity of each
patient at the point of care within clinician’s standard EHR workflows.

– Using Nuance conversational AI to automatically identify
and add critical details that may impact patient treatment in real-time.

Sullivan Group Outcomes/Results

The Sullivan Group’s content has been shown to decrease the
occurrence of adverse safety events and reduce diagnosis-related malpractice
claims by up to 70 percent, and with the integration into Nuance Dragon Medical
Advisor, this guidance can be delivered in real-time while the patient is still
in the ED. ED Guidance for Nuance Dragon Medical Advisor also provides powerful
analytics for assessing ED performance and improving care quality and financial
outcomes.

“We see Nuance Dragon Medical One and Dragon Medical Advisor as essential tools that help physicians use the EHR efficiently for delivering high-quality patient care,” said Dr. Charles Watson, DO, Chief Medical Information Officer at Kettering Health. “Patient safety and reducing the administrative burdens of documentation and compliance are priorities for all physicians, especially in the ED, where the nature of care presents special challenges and risks. The ability to add those tools and data analytics via the cloud will help us align our clinical and compliance practices with diagnostic drivers more quickly and accurately.”

Stryker Launches First Completely Wireless Hospital Bed for Patient Safety

What You Should Know:

– Stryker launches the industry’s first and only completely wireless hospital bed, ProCuity that can connect seamlessly to any nurse call system for every acuity level.

– ProCuity Bed Series designed to enhance patient and
caregiver safety for all acuity levels, reduce in-hospital falls


Stryker, one of the
world’s leading medical technology companies, today announced the global launch
of the industry’s first and only completely wireless hospital bed, ProCuity.
This intelligent bed was designed to help reduce in-hospital patient falls at
all acuity levels, improve nurse workflow efficiencies and safety, as well as
help lower hospital costs. It is the only bed on the market today that can
connect seamlessly to nurse call systems without the use of cables or wires. 

Why It Matters

Up to one million patients experience a fall while being
treated in a hospital annually pre-coronavirus. The number of hospitalizations
since COVID-19 has increased resulting in a higher number of patient falls and
a challenging work environment for hospital staff. New Stryker research found
an overwhelming majority (97%) of nurses report having encountered a patient
having difficulty getting out of a hospital bed, with three quarters (75%) of
nurses report having encountered a situation where a patient has hurt
themselves

One Bed All Acuity Levels

Set at an industry-low height of 11.5
inches*, ProCuity is ergonomically designed with the latest
technologies to promote safe patient handling and help reduce fall-related
injuries, including intuitive patient positioning and bed alarms as well as
ergonomic side rails. Helping to address nurse call cable connectivity issues
prevalent in hospitals today, ProCuity can be equipped with fully
wireless features. Additionally, the bed’s easy-to-use touchscreens and other
key components make the job of caregivers easier and more efficient, while
providing for more enhanced patient experience.  

Other key features of the Procuity include:

Completely Wireless: ProCuity’s Secure®
Connect™ wireless solution makes it the only bed on the market that can connect
without cables to nurse call systems. Additionally,
with iBed Wireless, all bed data, including bed configuration
and exit alarm activity, are wirelessly compatible
with facilities’ hospital information systems (HIS). To help give
caregivers increased visibility to safe bed configuration and bed exit
alarm activity, ProCuity can also integrate with Stryker’s
optional patient-centric clinical dashboard, iBed Vision. 

Ergonomic Side Rails: Three-position Secure® Assist
side rails allow for easier patient entry and exit as well as nurse-patient
interaction. By working in a “clocking motion,” the side rails stay tightly
close to the bed, thus avoiding unnecessary interference with any real estate
next to the bed. 

Intuitive Patient and Bed Monitoring Systems: ProCuity’s exclusive
Adaptive Bed Alarm uses load cell technology to sense a patient’s weight and
will alert nurses if a patient is out of position or has left the bed.
With ProCuity’s iBed™ Watch system, all operational aspects of
the bed, from side rail positioning, head of bed angle and height, are
monitored to ensure that it is always in a safe position for the patient.
Caregivers are alerted immediately if any components are out of
position.   

Zoom Motorized Drive: To help caregivers move
patients safely and more
efficiently, ProCuity Z and ZM models come
complete with Zoom® Motorized Drive, a motorcycle throttle-like touch handle
that deploys the central fifth wheel. It also comes with one-touch electric
brakes.

Standard, Customizable Platform: From MedSurg
units to the ICU, the ProCuity bed series is designed to meet all
patient acuity levels. This helps make standardization across hospitals easier
while reducing hospital costs associated with renting specialty beds and the
need for bed transfers and extra staff.   

Enhanced Patient Experience: To provide greater
flexibility for taller patients, ProCuity has an integrated bed
extender, which allows the bed to stretch an additional 12 inches in length. It
also comes with a USB port and holder to allow patients to charge and store
personal electronic devices like phones. 

Guarantee Program: Through Stryker’s Financial
Guarantee program, the company promises customers will see a 50% reduction in
bed-related falls occurring on Stryker
beds utilizing iBed Wireless technology**. 

Global Launch: ProCuity is being launched
globally in over 70 countries, with a market focus in North America, Latin
America, Europe, the Middle East, Australia/New Zealand, and Asia. In the U.S.,
units will ship in January 2021. 

“Patient safety is at the foundation of everything we do at Stryker. With rising acuity rates leading to increased bed demand, coupled with the continuing challenge of in-hospital falls, we needed to find a solution to further enhance our response to some of today’s most pressing healthcare challenges,” said Jessica Mathieson, VP/GM of Acute Care, Stryker. “Leveraging our long history in innovation, ProCuity is the culmination of years of extensive research and feedback from nurses and other healthcare professionals to create what is truly a ‘brilliance in a bed’ solution. It was designed to improve patient outcomes and assist caregivers for years to come.” 

RLDatix Acquires Verge Health to Accelerate Proactive Risk Mitigation in Healthcare

RLDatix Acquires Verge Health to Accelerate Proactive Risk Mitigation in Healthcare

What You Should Know:

– RLDatix acquires Verge Health, creating
the largest safety-led compliance and credentialing software platform specifically
designed for healthcare.

– The acquisition will accelerate the adoption of RLDatix’s applied safety intelligence framework and create an industry-standard for proactive risk mitigation.

RLDatix, the leading global provider of intelligent patient safety solutions, announced today that it has acquired Verge Health, the recognized best-in-class credentialing software provider. This acquisition joins two leaders in the Governance, Risk, and Compliance (“GRC”) healthcare software market and will dramatically accelerate an essential shift from a reactive approach to risk management to one rooted in safety and prevention. The acquisition is effective immediately.

Medical errors
remain the third leading cause of death in the U.S., and the World Health Organization
estimates that adverse events due to unsafe care rank as one of the top 10 causes of death and disability around the world. These adverse, yet
preventable, events are incredibly costly and account for an estimated 15
percent of all hospital expenditures across OECD countries.

Creating Industry Standard for Proactive Risk Mitigation in Healthcare

RLDatix is the only
provider that partners with healthcare delivery organizations globally to provide a comprehensive
view of enterprise risk through a safety-first lens. With this acquisition, RLDatix unifies the four
key pillars of GRC under one roof: Safety, Compliance, Provider Management,
and Strategic Advisory Services. By elevating conversations about compliance,
credentialing, safety, and risk to the enterprise level, RLDatix helps leaders make
the systemic changes necessary to achieve true harm reduction in a way that
will transform the delivery of care.

“Healthcare’s traditionally siloed approach to risk management, patient safety, provider management, and compliance has limited the ability for organizations to mitigate avoidable harm,” said Jeff Surges, CEO of RLDatix. “With Verge Health, we are unifying at an enterprise level all of the tools necessary to recognize flawed practices and prevent adverse events. This acquisition represents an enormous acceleration of Applied Safety Intelligence and solidifies our position as the global leader in patient safety software at a time when accreditation organizations like The Joint Commission are expected to take more active steps to reduce adverse events.”

Why It Matters

The timing of the acquisition is important. Hospital safety has been under a microscope
all year as millions of Americans have avoided non-emergency medical care for fear of contracting COVID-19, impacting public health and costing
providers billions in lost revenue. Health systems that want
to make their facilities and procedures safer need a partner who can show them
how to minimize risk through an enterprise-wide approach that addresses all of the potential pitfalls. This a model that has been widely
accepted outside health care but scarcely so within medicine—until now.

With the added
provider management, compliance, and analytics solutions of Verge, RLDatix offers healthcare delivery and insurance companies a clear path forward to
strengthen trust, capture revenues and to prevent the occurrence of adverse safety events. 

“We’re excited to adopt RLDatix’s Applied Safety Intelligence framework and bring together several of our disparate processes,” said Sherri Hess, Chief Nursing Informatics Officer of Banner Health. “The opportunity to have two key vendors join forces so that our safety and provider data, CANDOR training, and oneSOURCE documentation can be united to drive our high reliability efforts is paramount in ensuring we continue to drive safe, efficient healthcare.”

Financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Imprivata Launches Touchless Palm Vein Scanner to Address Patient Safety Concerns from COVID-19

Imprivata Launches Touchless Palm Vein Scanner to Address Patient Safety Concerns from COVID-19

What You Should Know:

– Imprivata launches a new palm vein scanner solution: Imprivata PatientSecure to power touchless biometric patient identification for healthcare.

– The next generation palm scanner, developed in
collaboration with Keyo, will help healthcare organizations solve the challenge
of patient ID amidst the COVID-19 pandemic by eliminating the need to touch any
surfaces. (It’s also a core component of the Imprivata digital identity
framework for healthcare, which provides a unified, security strategy for
managing identities across devices and locations.)


Imprivata, the digital identity company for healthcare, has unveiled its next-generation touchless biometric patient identification solution, delivered through a combination of a next-generation palm scanner with an antimicrobial copper coating, sensor, and software. The touchless solution is the result of a collaboration between Imprivata and Keyo, whose joint expertise in biometric identification, rapid innovation, and user-centric design produced this latest advancement in digital identity management for patients. The solution enables healthcare organizations to ensure clinicians have access to patients’ correct medical records while giving patients confidence in the safety of their medical care and the security of their medical information.

PatientSecure Palm Vein Scanner for Touchless Biometric
Patient identification

Imprivata PatientSecure helps solve the challenges
of patient identity for the nation’s largest and most complex healthcare
organizations by combining the best of modern patient matching technologies –
namely biometric and referential matching – to securely and accurately match
patients to their medical records using a process of in-person identity
proofing, advanced record resolution, and authentication. Imprivata PatientSecure
is a core component of the Imprivata digital
identity framework for healthcare
, a unified, security- and efficiency-focused strategy for managing
identities across the complex healthcare ecosystem. 

Why Palm Vein Biometrics?

Palm vein biometrics are less intrusive than other biometric
technologies and among the most accurate. With touchless authentication,
patient risk of infection is also reduced. Palm vein scanning can be used in
any workflow but is the only biometric that can be used for non-responsive
patient identification. The solution can also be taken mobile on WOWs and
tablets for bedside registration and other points of care. 

In addition to being touchless, the scanner features an
antimicrobial copper coating, which kills 99.9% of bacteria*. So, aside from
routine hygiene practices, such as hand washing and disinfecting, copper adds
another layer of hygiene to surfaces by continuously killing harmful bacteria
and microbes. In addition, the scanners are easy to clean, fast, and intuitive
to use.

Why It Matters

With the outbreak of COVID-19, both patients and provider organizations experienced heightened awareness and concern about the risk of transmission from frequently touched surfaces. Working together, Imprivata and Keyo addressed this challenge head-on, to bring the next generation of advanced biometric identity technology to healthcare institutions. By elevating Imprivata PatientSecure to a touchless solution, Imprivata ensures positive patient identification while limiting risks of transmission.       

– With its touchless patient identification solution, Imprivata PatientSecure helps healthcare organizations achieve the following goals:

– Improve patient safety and reduce medical errors;

– Enhance patient experience and streamline workflows with touchless authentication;

– Protect against fraud and eliminate duplicate and overlaid medical records; and 

– Reduce medical claim denials and improve financial outcomes.

“Patients are expecting a safe and streamlined experience as they return to physical locations for medical care amidst the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr. Sean Kelly, Chief Medical Officer at Imprivata. “We’re pleased to help our customers meet those expectations with the touchless biometric identification, improved patient matching, and workflow optimization offered with the latest version of Imprivata PatientSecure.”

HP Launches EMR-Integrated Print Solutions to Digitize Point of Care Workflows

HP Launches EMR-Integrated Print Solutions to Digitize Point of Care Workflows

What You Should Know:

– HP launches patient-first print technologies to help healthcare
workers stay safe and spend more time caring for patients.

– Innovations co-developed with healthcare professionals
include industry’s first sterilizable printers, exclusive EMR-compliant
workflow solutions, and services to improve patient safety and privacy.


Today, HP Inc.
officially launched new print solutions for the healthcare industry. Based on
deep customer insights and co-developed with healthcare providers, associations
and partners, HP Healthcare Print Solutions address the most pressing issues
facing the healthcare industry today including patient wellness and safety,
care coordination, mobility, privacy and security. 

Reducing the Risk of Virus Transmission and Healthcare-Associated Infections 

HP’s new Healthcare Edition MFP keyboards and touch-enabled
control panels are designed to be disinfected regularly, withstanding up to
10,000X industry-standard germicidal wipes, helping to reduce the risk of
health-care associated infections (HAIs) and viral pathogen transmission. 
HP has further enhanced the disinfection capabilities of high-touch areas of
the printer with removable covers/drapes that can be sterilized daily in an
autoclave up to 134 ºC. HP is also collaborating with Clorox Healthcare to
offer a guide detailing infection prevention best practices and other
educational tools.

In order to enhance support of infection prevention
policies, HP has also broadened disinfection capabilities of HP Personal System
devices to include HP Engage Go3 and HP Elite products such as HP EliteDesks,
HP EliteOne (display panel only), ZBook Mobile Workstations and Z Series
Desktop Workstations, HP Elite and Z Displays (Z, S, E and P series, Display
Panel Only) and HP Education Notebooks (keyboards only) .

The U.S. Centers for
Disease Control (CDC) estimate
s that healthcare-associated infections
(HAIs) are responsible for 1.7
million infections and 99,000 associated deaths
each year. Infections and
viruses add further strains to healthcare organizations’ ability to provide
safe, quality care to patients. Influenza alone accounts for an US$11B economic
annual burden. Studies show commonly used technologies, like printers and
mobile devices, are often highly contaminated with pathogenic bacteria and
viral pathogens. Most IT and IoT devices were not designed to be regularly
cleaned by hospital-grade disinfectant wipes. Repeated use has shown to damage
the integrity of the plastic and, ultimately, the device itself.  

Minimizing Contact with Common Points of Transmission

HP’s unique global Managed Print Services (MPS) program with
Zebra Technologies provides the HP Advance mobile app on Zebra’s TC52-HC
handheld touch computer to enable care providers to minimize contact with
common points of infection transmission at the point of care. Providers can
walk up to any HP Healthcare Edition MFP, authenticate with the TC52-HC mobile
computer and release critical patient documents without having to touch the
device.    

Reducing the Risk of Electromagnetic Interference (EMI)

Patient and clinical worker mobile and IoT devices add to a
very congested radio spectrum that can interfere via electromagnetic
interference (EMI) with life-saving medical devices. The new HP Health
Solutions portfolio of IoT hand-held devices and IoT print devices are EN/IEC
60601-1-2 certified for EMI safety. The EN/IEC 60601-1-2 certification
ensures these devices can be used within the patient sphere and shared patient
areas without risk of EMI to sensitive patients and surrounding medical
equipment. 

Helping Ensure Positive Patient ID 

Patient identification errors are common and can lead to
serious reportable events that harm not only the patient’s health, but also the
clinical standing of the healthcare facility where such an error occurred. Together,
HP and Zebra solutions empower clinicians to better manage positive patient
identification through integrated color patient ID wristbands, trackable
specimen labels printed on-demand with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)
location services and point of care identification solutions for patients.

Digitizing Processes for Faster, More Efficient Care
Coordination 

HP Healthcare Edition MFPs include the HP Workpath Biscom for Healthcare app fully integrated
with EPIC and Cerner. This
enables the entire clinical team to digitally transmit and receive patient
information and high-resolution color imaging like MRIs or directly input data
into the electronic
medical record (EMR)
system right from an app on the printer.  As a
result, care providers can make timely critical decisions to improve the
experience of patients and the entire care team and give back face time with
their patients. 

68% of physician respondents reported feeling burned out at
the moment, largely because of paperwork, regulatory demands and electronic
health record (EHR) documentation. Important pieces of healthcare data can fall
through the cracks, frustrating patients who don’t understand why a specialist
can’t see last week’s diagnostic test result or why they were not offered a
diabetic-friendly hospital menu while staying as an inpatient, for
example. 

Protecting Patient Privacy and Security

As the implementation of technology advances, so too are the
security threats against healthcare systems.  To help healthcare
organizations defend against emerging threats, HP provides the world’s most
secure PCs16 and printing solutions to protect patient privacy and sensitive
information. The new Healthcare portfolio also offers Basic Print Cloud
Services delivered through a service, HP Print Security Advisory Services and
HP Security Manager that provides patient data protection to all HP devices,
with the added protection of PrintSecure on Zebra wristband printers.

Availability

HP Healthcare Print Solutions are now available for direct
MPS customers in North America with plans to roll out across Europe and Asia in
2021.

Intermountain, Vynca Partner to Prioritize and Digitize Advance Care Planning

Intermountain, Vynca Partner to Prioritize and Digitize Advance Care Planning

What You Should Know:

– Intermountain Healthcare collaborates with Vynca, a national leader in advance care planning solutions to prioritize and digitize advance care planning.

The
collaboration enables integrated digital completion workflows and establishes a
single, centralized source of truth with built-in error prevention – enabling
the Intermountain Healthcare team to honor patients’ end-of-life
wishes, avoid unwanted healthcare utilization and reduce trauma for
families, caregivers and clinicians when faced with hard decisions in a medical
crisis.


 Vynca, a national leader
in advance care planning solutions, today announced a partnership with Intermountain Healthcare, a
not-for-profit health system, to ensure advance care planning documents are
easily and reliably accessible to clinicians, patients and their caregivers
across the care continuum. The collaboration
enables integrated digital completion workflows and establishes a single,
centralized source of truth with built-in error prevention – enabling the Intermountain Healthcare team
to honor patients’ end-of-life wishes, avoid unwanted healthcare utilization
and reduce trauma for families, caregivers and clinicians when faced with hard
decisions in a medical crisis.

Why It Matters

Intermountain has
been at the leading edge of healthcare systems
identifying evidence-based innovations to achieve the Triple Aim – improving
experience of care, health of populations and
reducing per capita costs. As such, they recognized that improving
end-of-life care quality and reducing
unwanted healthcare interventions required a
new solution with the digital data capabilities to define and track
success. Intermountain is able to transform the
process of advance care planning by integrating Vynca’s
end-to-end solution with the health system’s existing clinical workflow and
their Cerner electronic
health record (EHR),
who is also a Vynca partner. The collaboration enables customized outreach to
patients, shared decision making to digitally complete documents and ensures
documents are available to clinicians, patients and their selected caregivers.

“We are grateful to collaborate with an innovative health system like Intermountain to support providers and patients through the advance care planning process,” said Ryan Van Wert, MD, CEO and co-founder, Vynca. “Vynca’s solutions and services are designed to guide and empower individuals and providers to engage in these important conversations. Through shared decision making and document accessibility, patients can feel confident that their care preferences will be known across the care continuum.”

Integration
with Cerner EHR

A
lack of clarity in patient wishes, combined with concerns over document
accuracy and integrity and breakdowns in transitions of care have
historically led to low clinical confidence in advance care planning documents, as
well as patient safety concerns and unwanted healthcare utilization.
By integrating Vynca’s digital technology solutions
throughout the entire system, Intermountain gains
the ability to increase advance care planning conversations and documentation, access forms at
the point of care, decrease hospital mortality and
readmission rates and improve patient and family care satisfaction. 

“Vynca’s software solution provides an effective digital storage and retrieval system for advance care planning documents that integrates into our Cerner EHR,” said Mary Helen Stricklin, MSN, RNC, Intermountain’s system nursing director for palliative care. “Caregivers at various points of care are able to quickly glance to see if a patient has stated preferences for end-of-life care or life-support, so they can know, share and honor those preferences. The Vynca software also allows caregivers to complete electronic Provider Order of Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) forms stating end-of-life wishes. Vynca provides for these forms to be signed electronically by the patient and provider with an immediate availability in their medical record. If patient wishes change, new documents are easy to create, and previous documents can also be viewed in their record.” 

Intermountain receives
business intelligence and reporting information on when, where and if advance care forms were
accessed at the point of care before critical
clinical decisions were made – delivering insights into utilization, success
and value from implementing a digitized advance care planning program. Vynca enables providers and patients to not just view
documents, but also continue discussions across all care settings.

Is Your Community Ready for Connected Community of Care Model?

Is Your Community Ready to be Connected?
Dr. Keith Kosel is a Vice President at Parkland Center for Clinical Innovation (PCCI)

This question initially brings to mind many possibilities such as connection to the latest 5G cellular service, a new super-fast internet provider, or maybe one of the many new energy suppliers jockeying for market share from traditional utility companies. While all of these might represent legitimate opportunities to improve one’s community, here we are talking about a different concept; specifically, whether your community is ready to have a Connected Community of Care (CCC) to advance whole-person health.

The image of a CCC may seem obvious. After all, we all live in communities where we have some connections between hospitals, physician practices, ambulatory care centers, and pharmacies to name just a few. But here we are talking about a broader sense of connected community that includes not just health care organizations, but social service organizations, such as schools and civic organizations and community-based organizations (CBOs) like neighborhood food pantries and temporary housing facilities. A true CCC links together local healthcare providers along with a wide array of CBOs, faith-based organizations, and civic entities to help address those social factors, such as education, income security, food access, and behavioral support networks, which can influence a population’s risk for illness or disease. Addressing these factors in connection with traditional medical care can reduce disease risk and advance whole-person care. Such is the case in Dallas Texas, where the Dallas CCC information exchange platform has been operating since 2012. Designed to electronically bring together local healthcare systems, clinicians, and ancillary providers with over a hundred CBOs, the Dallas CCC provides a real-time referral and communication platform with a sophisticated care management system designed and built by the Parkland Center for Clinical Innovation (PCCI) and Pieces Technologies, Inc.

Long before this information exchange platform was implemented, the framers of the Dallas CCC came together to consider whether Dallas needed such a network and whether the potential partners in the community were truly ready to make the commitments needed to bring this idea to fruition. As more and more communities and healthcare provider entities realize the tremendous potential of addressing the social determinants of health by bringing together healthcare entities and CBOs and other social-service organizations, the question of community readiness for a CCC is being asked much more often. But how do you know what the right answer is?

Before looking at the details of how we might answer this, let’s remember that a CCC doesn’t don’t just happen in a vacuum. It requires belief, vision, commitment― and above all― alignment among the key stakeholders. Every CCC that has formed, including the Dallas CCC, begins with a vision for a healthier community and its citizens. This vision is typically shared by two or more large and influential key community stakeholders, such as a   large healthcare system, school district, civic entity, or social- service organization like the United Way or Salvation Army.

Leaders from these organizations often initially connect at informal social gatherings and advance the idea of what if? These informal exchanges soon lead to a more formal meeting where the topic is more fully discussed and each of the participants articulates their vision for a healthier community and what that might look like going forward. This stage in the evolution of a CCC is perhaps the key step in the transformation process, as while all stakeholders will have a vision, achieving alignment among those visions is no small feat. Many hopeful CCCs never pass this stage, as the stakeholders cannot come to an agreement on a common vision that each can support. For the fortunate few, intrinsic organizational differences can be successfully set aside to allow the CCC to move forward.

It’s at this point in the CCC’s evolution that details begin to matter in truthfully answering the question, “Is this community ready to be connected?” While there may be agreement among the key stakeholders on a vision, the details around readiness may still divert or delay the best-laid plans. It is safe to say that the key to understanding a community’s readiness to form a CCC lies in the completion of a formal, comprehensive, and transparent readiness assessment.

A readiness assessment is a process to collect, analyze, and evaluate critical information gathered from the community to help identify actual clinical and socio-economic needs, current capabilities and resources (including technology), and community interest and engagement. Taken together, a comprehensive readiness assessment can help identify a community’s strengths and weaknesses in preparation for establishing a CCC.

A readiness assessment is not a tactical plan for building a CCC, nor is it a governance document that provides how all members of the CCC will relate to each other. Instead, the readiness assessment provides communities interested in establishing a CCC with an honest and unbiased yardstick to measure preparedness. Conducting and using the results of the readiness assessment is one of the best ways to ensure a successful CCC deployment.

A typical CCC readiness assessment covers five areas: (1) community demographics; (2) clinical areas of need (including trends); (3) social areas of need (including trends); (4) technology competency (e.g., what percent of the potential network participants are computer literate?), availability (e.g., what percent of the potential network participants have internet access?), and suitability (e.g., is the internet access, high speed?); and (5) what are the needs of potential network participants and can these be modeled as use cases for the information exchange network? This information is essential to help key stakeholder decision-makers decide to move forward with establishing a CCC and to know what specific challenges may lie ahead.

The collection of this essential information can be done in a number of ways, such as making use of existing publicly reported data or conducting surveys, interviews, focus groups and town hall meetings with community leaders and residents and clinical and CBO leaders and staff. Experience conducting the readiness assessment that provided the foundation for the Dallas CCC showed that no single information-collection method was sufficient to collect the necessary level and robustness of the data. In Dallas, we utilized all five approaches but found that in addition to researching publicly available data, initial surveys, followed by interviews and focus groups, yielded the most voluminous and reliable information to chart the course ahead.

In addition to the various methods to collect this essential information, the key to obtaining useful and reliable information requires a sufficient number of respondents/participants who are drawn from various organizations and organizational levels. Simply put, you must have a large enough sample and you must have diversity within the sample. It’s not enough to just interview leaders of potential network participants, as their understanding of the needs, trends, and capabilities may look very different from that of frontline staff.

Similarly, surveying only one category of potential network participants may not provide enough information to fully understand the socio-economic needs in the community or even the perspectives surrounding the prevalence of chronic conditions. Beyond the qualitative methods involved, it is important to note that if done right, this process takes a lot of time to complete. Cutting corners by reducing the sample size, for example, or doing selective sampling to speed the readiness assessment process along will only cause problems later when this insufficient information results in erroneous decision-making.

Once the data has been collected, it is important to carefully analyze what the data is trying to tell you. Results of the readiness assessment must be shared openly and honestly with all key stakeholders, particularly those serving in a governance capacity. The governance group (a topic for another day) that has formed in parallel with the readiness assessment must be able to evaluate and understand the main messages from the readiness assessment to make an informed decision as to whether to move forward with establishing a CCC.

Like the need for alignment around the key stakeholder’s vision for the CCC, there must be universal agreement by the key stakeholders as to the message of the readiness assessment and its implications for the road ahead. As with the vision alignment stage, substantive disagreements among the group at this stage are a sign of trouble ahead unless differences can be resolved.

At this point, you might be thinking that this all seems very complicated and fraught with potential land mines waiting to derail your effort to answer the original question “Is your community ready to be connected?” Again, I would emphasize the importance of unwavering commitment and alignment to achieve the vision. But I would also offer advice gleaned from working in the CCC space for the last eight years, which is to get help early and don’t wait until the horse is out of the barn!

We have seen first-hand many communities and consultants approach the conduct of a readiness assessment with a cavalier attitude, often exemplified by the statement, “we already know all of this,” only later to have to backtrack their pronouncements at substantial additional cost in time and resources. Fortunately, today there are a number of excellent organizations, including PCCI, with the experience, credibility, and integrity in the CCC space to help you on this journey. Don’t be afraid to seek them out. It will be a wise investment that you will not regret, particularly when you begin to see the results of improved whole-person health and well-being in your community.           


About Dr. Keith Kosel

Dr. Keith Kosel is a Vice President at Parkland Center for Clinical Innovation (PCCI) and is the author of “Building Connected Communities of Care: The Playbook for Streamlining Effective Coordination Between Medical and Community-Based Organizations,” a guide that brings together communities to support our most vulnerable. At PCCI, Keith is leveraging his passion for – and extensive experience in – patient safety, quality, and population health by focusing on understanding social determinants of health and the impact of community-based interventions in improving the health of vulnerable and underserved populations.

4 Areas Driving AI Adoption in Hospital Operations and Patient Safety

4 Reasons Why Now Is the Time for Hospitals to Embrace AI
Renee Yao, Global Healthcare AI Startups Lead at NVIDIA

COVID-19 has put a tremendous burden on hospitals, and the clinicians, nurses, and medical staff who make them run. 

Many hospitals have suffered financially as they did not anticipate the severity of the disease. The extended duration of patient stays in ICUs, the need for more isolated rooms and beds, and the need for better supplies to reduce infections have all added costs. Some hospitals did not have adequate staff to check-in patients, take their temperature, monitor them regularly, or quickly recruit nurses and doctors to help.

AI can greatly improve hospital efficiency, improve patient satisfaction, and help keep costs from ballooning. Autonomous robots can help with surgeries and deliver items to patient’s rooms. Smart video sensors can determine if patients are wearing masks or monitor their temperature. Conversational tools can help to directly input patient information right into medical records or help to explain surgical procedures or side effects.

Here are four key areas where artificial intelligence (AI) is getting traction in hospital operations and enhancing patient safety:

1- Patient Screening

We’ve become familiar with devices in and around our homes that use AI for image and speech recognition, such as speakers that listen to our commands to play our favorite songs. This same technology can be used in hospitals to screen patients, monitor them, help them understand procedures, and help them get supplies.

Screening is an important step in identifying patients who may need medical care or isolation to stop the spread of COVID-19. Temporal thermometers are widely used to measure temperatures via the temporal artery in the forehead, but medical staff has to screen patients one by one. 

Temperature screening applications powered by AI can automate and dramatically speed up this process, scanning over 100 patients a minute. These systems free up staff, who can perform other functions, and then notify them of patients who have a fever, so they can be isolated. Patients without a fever can check-in for their appointments instead of waiting in line to be scanned. 

AI systems can also perform other screening functions, such as helping monitor if patients are wearing masks and keeping six feet apart. They can even check staff to ensure they are wearing proper safety equipment before interacting with patients.  

2. Virtual Nurse Assistant 

Hospitals are dynamic environments. Patients have questions that can crop up or evolve as circumstances change. Staff have many patients and tasks to attend to and regularly change shifts. 

Sensor fusion technology combines video and voice data to allow nurses to monitor patients remotely. AI can automatically observe a patient’s behavior, determining whether they are at risk of a fall or are in distress. Conversational AI, such as automatic speech recognition, text-to-speech, and natural language processing, can help understand what patients need, answer their questions, and then take appropriate action, whether it’s replying with an answer or alerting staff.

Furthermore, the information recorded from patients in conversational AI tools can be directly inputted into patients’ medical records, reducing the documentation burden for nurses and medical staff.

3. Surgery Optimization 

Surgery can be risky and less invasive procedures are optimal for patients to speed up recovery, reduce blood loss, and reduce pain. AI can help surgeons monitor blood flow, anatomy, and physiology in real-time. 

Connected sensors can help optimize the operating room. Everything from patient flow, time, instrument use, and staffing can be captured. Using machine learning algorithms and real-time data, AI can reduce hospital costs and allow clinicians to focus on safe patient throughput.

But it’s not just the overall operations. AI will allow surgeons to better prepare for upcoming procedures with access to simulations beforehand. They will also be able to augment procedures as they happen, incorporating AI models in real-time, allowing them to identify missing or unexpected steps.

Contactless control will allow surgeons to utilize gestures and voice commands to easily access relevant patient information like medical images, before making a critical next move. AI can also be of assistance following procedures. It can, for example, automatically document key information like equipment and supplies used, as well as staff times. 

4. Telehealth

During COVID-19, telehealth has helped patients access their clinicians when they cannot physically go to the office. Patients’ adoption of telehealth has soared, from 11% usage in 2019 in the US to 46% usage in 2020. Clinicians have rapidly scaled offerings and are seeing 50 to 175 times the number of patients via telehealth than they did before. Pre-COVID-19, the total annual revenue of US telehealth was an estimated $3 billion, with the largest vendors focused on the “virtual urgent care” segment. With the acceleration of consumer and provider adoption of telehealth, up to $250 billion of current US healthcare spend could potentially be virtualized.

Examples of the role of AI in the delivery of health care remotely include the use of tele-assessment, telediagnosis, tele-interactions, and telemonitoring.

AI-enabled self-triage tools allow patients to go through diagnostic assessments and receive real-time care recommendations. This allows less sick patients to avoid crowded hospitals. After the virtual visit, AI can improve documentation and reimbursement processes.

Rapidly developing real-time secure and scalable AI intelligence is fundamental to transforming our hospitals so that they are safe, more efficient, and meet the needs of patients and medical staff. 


About Renee Yao

Renee Yao leads global healthcare AI startups at NVIDIA, managing 1000+ healthcare startups in digital health, medical instrument, medical imaging, genomics, and drug discovery segments. Most Recently, she is responsible for Clara Guardian, a smart hospital ecosystem of AI solutions for hospital public safety and patient monitoring.


Evidence of positive impact of pharmacists on patient safety published by FIP

The positive impacts of pharmacists in supporting medication without harm are described in a new publication from the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) released today. The World Health Organization reports that one in four patients is harmed by the care they receive in primary and ambulatory care settings, including harm from medicines. It estimates the global

The post Evidence of positive impact of pharmacists on patient safety published by FIP appeared first on Pharma Mirror Magazine.

How ADT-Based E-Notifications Can Enable Better Safety for COVID-19 Patients

Why E-Notifications Are More Important Than Ever Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic
Jay Desai, CEO & Co-Founder, PatientPing

As COVID-19 continues to impact the country, providers across the continuum face new challenges delivering care and ensuring safety for their patients and themselves.  During this period, sharing real-time information about patients’ care encounters across provider types and care settings matter more than ever. In particular, hospitals sharing admission, discharge, and transfer (ADT) events with COVID-19 patients’ community-based providers is critical to ensure the best treatment course and safer more seamless care transitions for infected and recovering patients. 

Real-time ADT-based notifications include information about a patient’s current care encounter, demographic details, information about the provider or institution sending the notification, and, as permissible, clinical information. This data enables providers across the continuum to make informed and coordinated decisions about their patients’ treatment and care transition plans. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recognized the importance of such ADT notifications in supporting patient care and finalized a new Condition of Participation (CoP) as part of the recently published Interoperability and Patient Access Final Rule (85 FR 25510). The CoP requires hospitals to share electronic patient event notifications, or e-notifications, with other community providers, such as primary care physicians (PCPs) and post-acute care providers, to facilitate better care coordination and improve patient outcomes. 

The necessity and benefit of these e-notifications has come into stark relief as providers and the healthcare system more broadly fight COVID-19. ADT-based e-notifications are an accessible and easy way to help enable better safety for COVID-19 patients and their providers while also ensuring efficient use and appropriate allocation of scarce resources. For example, ADT-based e-notifications can:

Enhance Safety for Patients Protecting patient safety and providing appropriate treatment is especially urgent during a crisis like COVID-19 when resources are limited and staff is stretched.  E-notifications allow hospitals that treat COVID-19 patients to more rapidly get in touch with a patient’s other providers and obtain important medical histories to help guide treatment and clinical decision-making.  Traditional exchange of data facilitated by phone calls, faxes, or labor-intensive data searches can introduce treatment delays, unnecessary or harmful interventions, and frustrations for providers. The faster information can be exchanged and a patient’s history is known by the hospital care team, the easier it is to effectively and safely treat the patient with the most appropriate interventions. 

Enhance Safety for Providers: Hospital e-notifications are especially important for post-acute and other community-based providers that will continue treatment for COVID-19 patients discharged from the hospital. Because e-notifications provide context about the patient’s most recent encounter, including diagnoses where permissible, they help guide the continuation of care.  Receiving e-notifications from hospitals allows such providers to appropriately prepare staff and put safety measures in place prior to treating COVID-19 patients. In particular, Skilled Nursing Facilities need time to properly and safely intake infected patients while Home Health Agencies need to prepare and equip their nurses for visits to homes of infected patients.

Open Hospital Beds for the Sickest Patients: Through real-time e-notifications, hospitals are able to more easily and quickly communicate and share information with COVID-19 patients’ other community-based providers who will care for recovering patients after they are discharged from the hospital. This exchange of information allows hospital care teams to more seamlessly and quickly transition recovering COVID-19 patients to the next level of care, which opens scarce hospital beds for the sickest patients.

Improve Care for COVID-19 Patients: Real-time e-notifications from hospitals allow PCPs and care coordinators to know when their patients have inpatient or ED events. In particular, discharge notifications can trigger critical follow-up services, including telehealth-based visits, to ensure COVID-19 patients recover safely and fully after they leave the hospital. Engaging COVID-19 patients after a hospitalization can help prevent readmissions and keep patients healthy in their homes. At the same time, PCPs are able to support the financial viability of their practices by being able to provide and bill for Transitional Care Management Services and ensure patient engagement in ongoing preventive and other clinical care.

Bolster Public Health Response: Aggregated and de-identified ADT-based notifications offer wide-ranging and powerful real-time data for local, state, and federal public health officials to detect emerging COVID-19 hotspots and intense ED, hospital, ICU strain.  Real-time data about the hospital and ED utilization can help public health officials direct and allocate scarce resources to the highest need areas quickly.

These are just some examples of how ADT-based e-notifications can play an important part in helping healthcare organizations effectively, efficiently, and safely deliver care for their patients during the ongoing pandemic – and beyond. 


About Jay Desai, CEO & Co-Founder, PatientPing

Jay started PatientPing in 2013 with one goal in mind: to connect providers everywhere to seamlessly coordinate patient care. Prior to founding PatientPing, Jay worked at the CMS Innovation Center (CMMI) where he helped develop ACOs, bundled payments, and other payment initiatives. Jay’s passion lies at the intersection of technology, policy, and community building. He has an MBA in healthcare management from Wharton and a BA from the University of Michigan. 

Telehealth’s Time Has Come. And It’s Here to Stay.

Telehealth’s Time Has Come. And It’s Here to Stay.
Ernie Ianace, EVP Sales and Marketing at VitalTech

“The numbers don’t lie,” is a famous old adage and quite appropriate with regard to the rapid rise and deployment of telehealth solutions in the medical community. It may have taken a global pandemic for society to recognize and investigate the rewards of its adoption, but statistics reveal that telehealth’s moment has indeed come. And it certainly seems like it’s here to stay.

How did we come so far, so fast? By undertaking forward-thinking policies and bold action, the health care industry nimbly and quickly adopted this technology to mitigate the immediate threat of COVID-19’s lethal contagiousness.

As it pertains to effectiveness, the federal government’s overwhelming response to shore up commerce, industry, and unforeseen unemployment levels has been met with mixed reviews. But the designated programs specific to the healthcare industry have been an undeniable success. Thanks to a sudden and massive infusion of funding and support for telehealth medicine, initiated by federal and state governments, the health care industry is witnessing a historic sea-change in its processes, procedures, and practices. The widespread, rapid adoption of telehealth solutions is the prime example.

Beyond the impact of funding, now in the hundreds of millions of dollars, the utilization of telehealth also benefited from additional measures which simultaneously boosted its appeal for trial and adoption. For the first time, health care providers were permitted to use telehealth to treat Medicare patients, opening the door for insurance companies and state governments to follow suit.

Subsequently, many of the nation’s largest private insurance providers then took it a step further—waiving copays for patient consultations via telehealth. For both the insured and uninsured, the elimination of out-of-pocket costs is likely to increase consumer trial and adoption of virtual physician visits. The bold and swift decisions to relax certain restrictions and requirements within the traditional health care model has created fertile ground for telehealth’s trial and adoption.

The use of telehealth as a practical solution has been available for some time, but its adoption by consumers faced difficulty, as many perceived virtual visits would not measure up to the value of in-person doctor appointments. But recent research and surveys on telehealth’s usage reveal this barrier may be crumbling. In April, Sage Growth Partner (SGP) and Black Book Market Research collaborated on a survey revealing that, prior to COVID-19, only a quarter of respondents had used telehealth. But amidst the backdrop of our current pandemic, nearly 60% of those surveyed say they are now likely to consider telehealth in addressing their personal health care needs. Additionally, other studies have concluded that after an initial trial of telehealth, a majority of consumers expressed high levels of satisfaction with their experience—and a strong likelihood of follow-up use.

Yet only viewing the benefits of telehealth through the narrow lens of a physician-patient consultation is to overlook its full value proposition across the health care industry as a whole. What are some other examples of how telehealth is changing the health care landscape for the better? Here are a few ways in which its adoption and use are improving our models of caregiving:

Protecting our Collective Health

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, an obvious benefit is the option to seek care remotely while maintaining isolation through the practice of social distancing. There are no crowded waiting rooms or hospital hallways to deal with, thereby lessening the risk of exposure and infection to patients and caregivers alike.

Meeting the Caregiver Demand 

In some areas of the U.S., a steep demand for health advisors has spiked, due to postponement of elective surgeries and the need for ongoing treatment of patients with chronic health care conditions. Pack Health, Birmingham, Al. chronic care coaching provider utilizes certified Health Advisors to help patients get access to care options while helping them develop self-management skills to gradually improve their conditions. With a surge of over 50,000 new patients, the company rapidly transformed its onboard training program to a telehealth platform to meet the demand for new hires. In doing so, Pack Health was able to scale up staffing much faster and cheaper than ever before.

Impact on Rural Health Care

According to the consultants at Guidehouse, one in four rural hospitals are deemed high-risk for closing—and this was reported before the pandemic. Through the use of telehealth platforms, a large portion of the rural United States can now receive access to clinical care services and at-home monitoring services. In effect, telehealth can become a new tool to help alleviate rural America’s serious deficit of accessing critical care. 

Impact on Mental Health Care

The rise in telehealth adoption is also having a positive effect for patients who require access to mental health services. Even before the pandemic, many people with various mental health needs chose not to seek treatment due to perceived social stigmas. Using telehealth as a solution, they can now obtain access to providers, care, therapy, and treatment in the privacy of their homes. Likewise, those patients already under the care of mental health professionals are able to keep routine appointments, in spite of COVID-19’s disruption.

As for telehealth’s future, it is certain to benefit in multiple ways from its current trial by fire. Perhaps there is no better proving ground for assessing its total value proposition than during a global health crisis that shows no sign of relenting. Being at the right place at the right time can be an invaluable proving ground and the future of the telehealth industry appears to be positioned for staggering growth. In April, Global Market Insights, market research, and consulting company released a report predicting the telemedicine market will reach $175.5B by the year 2026

Furthermore, healthcare providers need to think of telehealth as only one component of comprehensive care. Patients need to have several different touchpoints throughout the healthcare continuum to ensure the best quality of care. Examples of these touchpoints include advanced biometric wearables, real-time data collection, and advanced analytics to provide actionable data for patients and care teams.

As technology continues to drive the rapid pace of improvements in digitalization, platforms, high-speed broadband access, and mobile devices, the widespread adoption of telehealth and telemedicine solutions will become even more commonplace. As a result, the ever-increasing capacity to improve our traditional health care delivery models may indeed be forever changed for the better.


About Ernie Ianace

Ernie Ianace is the Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing at VitalTech® Affiliates, LLC. Based in Plano, TX, VitalTech is a rapidly growing provider of fully integrated digital health solutions and smart biomedical wearables that provide real-time monitoring for patient wellness and safety.  The company’s connected care platform, VitalCare®, enables health systems, skilled nursing facilities, home health providers, physicians, and senior living facilities to streamline workflows while improving health outcomes, increasing patient safety, and lowering the cost of care.


Health Catalyst Acquires Clinical Workflow Optimization Solution healthfinch

healthfinch Nabs $6M for Charlie Practice Automation Platform

What You Should Know:

– Health Catalyst announces an agreement to acquire
clinical workflow optimization solution healthfinch using a mix of stock and
cash.

– As part of the acquisition, healthfinch will be a new
application suite category called EMR Embedded Insights and its refills, care
gaps closure, and visit planning applications will continue to be available in
their original configuration.


 Health
Catalyst, Inc.,
a provider of data and analytics technology and services to
healthcare organizations, today announced that it has entered into a definitive
agreement to acquire healthfinch, Inc., a Madison,
Wisconsin-based company that provides a workflow integration engine delivering
insights and analytics into EMR workflows to
automate physicians’ ability to close patient care gaps in real-time. Health
Catalyst expects to fund the transaction using a mix of stock and cash.

Clinical Workflow Optimization

Founded in 2011, healthfinch has developed the healthcare
industry’s most trusted, most used clinical workflow optimization solution,
Charlie. Charlie’s unique combination of EMR-integrated technology and protocol
content streamlines key workflows such as prescription renewal processing,
visit planning, and care gap closure. With Charlie, health systems are able to
deliver a better, safer patient experience, while also achieving lower rates of
provider and staff burnout, increased care gap closure, improved quality
metrics, and significant time and cost savings for providers and clinical
staff.

Integration with Health
Catalyst Analytics Application Portfolio

The healthfinch acquisition, which will allow Health
Catalyst’s customers to enhance clinical workflows in the EMR, further
strengthens the Health Catalyst Population Health portfolio, which was
bolstered by the Able Health acquisition in February 2020 and Care
Management Suite launch earlier this month.

Within the Health Catalyst analytics application portfolio,
healthfinch will be a new application suite category called EMR Embedded
Insights and its refills, care gaps closure, and visit planning applications will
continue to be available in their original configuration. Additionally, the
healthfinch technology will augment workflows across Health Catalyst’s product
portfolio, with data and insights powered by Health Catalyst’s cloud-based Data
Operating System (DOS™), a healthcare-specific, open, flexible, and scalable
data platform that provides customers with a single comprehensive environment
to integrate and organize data.

healthfinch’s industry-leading capabilities are already in demand from Health Catalyst customers and prospects across multiple product areas including quality measures, care management, population health, patient safety, and others. Providing these capabilities will bring even greater value to Health Catalyst customers by making the critical insights and analytics from the DOS platform actionable within clinical workflows – providing more effective care for patients and saving time for both doctors and staff through automation so they can work at the top of their license. 

“We are thrilled to benefit from healthfinch’s decades of collective experience gained from working with customers across the United States that are using a variety of different EMRs.  And we also find deeply compelling the strong mission and cultural alignment with our respected healthfinch teammates. We are excited to have the healthfinch leadership team and their talented colleagues join Health Catalyst, and we are grateful for the tremendous insights, knowledge and perspectives they bring, which will accelerate the achievement of our mission to be the catalyst for massive, measurable, data-informed healthcare improvement,” said Health Catalyst CEO Dan Burton.

Burton added, “This acquisition highlights Health Catalyst’s ability to integrate and scale software applications on top of our DOS platform. The healthfinch technology will easily serve up actionable insights, derived from DOS and other Health Catalyst analytics applications into the EMR, at the point of care.”

Why Medical Translation and Medical Interpretation Services are Key in Quality Healthcare

Why Medical Translation and Medical Interpretation Services are Key in Quality Healthcare

All industries need translators and interpreters who are trained in different languages. Although some items, symbols, and/or actions may be universally understood, you still need to convey subtle meanings and instructions across cultures. It is especially important to overcome language barriers in healthcare. That is why the need for medical translation and interpretation is so […]

The Doctor Weighs In

New CVS Pharmacy App Feature Can Read Prescription Labels Out Loud for Visually Impaired

New CVS Pharmacy App Feature Can Read Prescription Labels Out Loud for Visually Impaired

What You Should Know:

– CVS introduced Spoken Rx™, a new feature of the
CVS Pharmacy app that can read important prescription information out loud. It
is vitally important for patient safety and adherence that prescription labels
are clear and visible, but for patients with visual impairments or those who
can’t read standard print labels, that’s not always the case.

– Spoken Rx provides an audible label option that reads
important info such as patient name, medication name, dosage and directions, in
either English or Spanish to ensure patients are taking the correct
prescriptions, as prescribed.

– More than 7 million U.S. adults suffer from a visual
disability, though that number is expected to increase exponentially in the
coming years due to the increasing prevalence of diabetes and other chronic
conditions.


CVS Pharmacy announced that it has developed Spoken Rx™, a new feature of the CVS Pharmacy app that can read a specific type of label for patients with visual impairments and those who cannot read standard print labels. Spoken Rx is the first in-app prescription reader application to be developed by a national retail pharmacy. The announcement is the result of the collaboration between CVS Pharmacy and the American Council of the Blind, which worked with CVS and tested the technology throughout its development. 

RFID‐Tagged Prescription Label

Today, more than
7 million U.S. adults suffer from a visual disability, though that number is
expected to increase exponentially in the coming years due to the increasing
prevalence of diabetes and other chronic conditions. By the end of 2020, 1,500
CVS Pharmacy locations will be equipped to affix special RFID labels to
prescription vials.  When the RFID labels are scanned by Spoken Rx in the
CVS Pharmacy app, which can be accessed by users using Siri or Google Assistant
on their phones, prescription label information will be spoken out loud.

Enrollment in the program is seamless and can be done either over the phone or in-store where a pharmacist can ensure the patient’s app is appropriately set up for the service. Spoken Rx is free to CVS Pharmacy patients and the app will read prescription label information aloud in either English or Spanish.

This information, which is important for patient safety and adherence, currently includes patient name, medication name, dosage, and directions and will be enhanced to include additional information over the months to come. Spoken Rx will be available in all CVS Pharmacy locations by the end of 2021.

“The in-app feature gives patients more flexibility, providing the pertinent prescription information out loud wherever and whenever they need it,” said Ryan Rumbarger, Senior Vice President, Store Operations at CVS Health. “Spoken Rx provides a more seamless experience to our patients who are visually impaired.”