3 Ways to Boost Patient Confidence with Real-Time Contactless Communication

How to Boost Patient Confidence with Real-Time Contactless Communication
Ford Blakely, SVP & GM, Medallia Zingle

Although the vaccine’s rollout is slowly underway, Covid cases worldwide are continuing to reach all-time highs as new mutations make the virus even more contagious than ever before. Not surprisingly, patients’ concerns about visiting their healthcare providers in the midst of this global pandemic persist, pushing demand for telehealth solutions that allow patients and their doctors to communicate without the need for in-person visits. 

In fact, a recent report from McKinsey found that physicians and other health professionals were seeing 50 to 175 times the number of patients via telehealth than they did pre-pandemic, and that going forward, these types of virtual visits could account for $250 billion (or about 20%) of what Medicare, Medicaid, and commercial insurers spend on outpatient, office and home health visits. This of course is good news for the providers of these technologies. However, the same can’t be said for healthcare facilities’ own revenue streams. 

The truth is, healthcare practices have been under immense pressure financially since the onset of Covid-19. A recent MGMA report found that 97% have experienced a negative financial impact related to the pandemic, and over half (55%) saw a decrease in revenue in the early months of the crisis. But with the vaccine’s rollout set to scale in the spring, and thus require those receiving it to visit their doctor’s office in-person for what might be their first time in over a year, it’s vital that providers find ways to instill enough confidence in their patients to get them in through their doors. 

After all, a recent report found that 64% of Americans are concerned about the risks of contracting COVID-19 while waiting in lines or crowded lobbies when getting any vaccine shot this season.

With that said, here are three ways healthcare providers and the broader healthcare ecosystem can boost patient confidence with real-time and contactless communication, to not only make them feel comfortable enough to receive their vaccines but to encourage them to visit their doctor in-person when they need arises. 

1. Connect with Patients Through Two-Way Messaging

Over half of Americans say that they’ve postponed or skipped an in-person doctor’s appointment because of health and safety concerns since the pandemic began. Even 40% of providers’ most vulnerable patients (individuals 65 and older) are putting off appointments. It’s clear that the shifts in consumer behavior that have stemmed from Covid-19 are as prevalent in the healthcare space as they are in any other industry. And while telehealth has been a successful solution, research shows that in ordinary times patients typically only retain about 40% of the information that’s communicated to them in a healthcare setting. 

With that in mind, the ability for healthcare professionals and patients to communicate via text in real-time becomes much more valuable. For example, something as simple as a pre-arrival text message that communicates the facility’s new health and safety standards can go a long way with building confidence amongst patients. While post-appointment, questions relating to medications, billing, and other health-related concerns can solve the problem of lost information. 

This type of safe and instant contactless communication can act as a lifeline for patients experiencing increased anxiety around COVID-19, and ease their worries about visiting their doctor during this historic health pandemic. Something that holds tremendous benefits for both practice and patient.

2. Design Long-Lasting Channels for Instant Communication

Delayed communication between patients and their providers is a well-known pain point in the healthcare industry. While practices have instituted patient portals in recent years to allow patients to message their doctor directly, for many the experience is one of delayed responses and frustration.

Further, studies show that consumers delete most apps within six days of download, making SMS text messages with open rates above 90% a much more effective option in many cases. With this in mind, it’s hardly a surprise that a resounding 73% of Americans said “yes” when asked, “If you had the option to communicate with your doctor or healthcare provider via text, would you do so?”

In fact, despite its simplicity, SMS has already been labeled the “digital health tool of the century”. A pre-Covid research survey of 770 hospital professionals and 1,300 physician practices even indicated that secure texting was fast becoming the first choice to send information while keeping sensitive data secure. Its benefits are obvious in today’s environment that’s dominated by demands for everything contactless. 

But even in a post-Covid world, patients and providers benefit from text as it improves patient satisfaction, drives medication adherence, and empowers patients to be more actively involved in their health and wellness — all factors that massively contribute to their overall confidence in their healthcare provider.

3. Create Time for Better Patient-Provider Relationships

It’s no secret that administrative burden and physician burnout have reached all-time highs since the pandemic began. Facing unparalleled surges in urgent inquiries from patients to the configurations of their practices being turned upside down, healthcare professionals’ admirable sacrifice has understandably led to high-stress levels on their part. And now, with hospitals at max capacity and workers working overtime to help them fight this virus, the reality is that they don’t always have the bandwidth to prioritize patient relationships.

However, a communications strategy that incorporates real-time and contactless communication can help them solve this problem, and assist in the management of workflows and optimization of patient-centered communication. For example, automated messages around health and safety protocol updates, appointment reminders, and test results are not only more efficient but result in a more personalized patient experience. And when a more empathetic, human approach is required — for example, in cases where extra sensitive patient information is involved — team members can step in and take charge. 

Research published in the Applied Clinical Informatics Journal asserted that this type of approach had the potential to improve clinical collaboration, communication, and operational efficiency. Meanwhile, experts have written about the impact of healthcare’s digital transformation on productivity and satisfaction, with automation, in particular, yielding positive outcomes when it comes to reducing errors and improving work processes. 

Of course, what all this leads to is happier team members and more confident patients, as healthcare professionals can reallocate time towards building positive relationships with their patients, and thus ensure them that even in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, their providers are just a quick text away.


About Ford Blakely
Ford Blakely is SVP and GM of Medallia Zingle. As a frustrated consumer with an entrepreneurial spirit, Ford sought to figure out an easier and faster way to order his latte in the morning. He did – and in 2009 Zingle was born as the first two-way, business-to-customer communication platform. Zingle empowers businesses to engage, support, and respond to customers in more meaningful and impactful ways.

The Zingle platform combines artificial intelligence and machine learning with workflow automation and mobile messaging, allowing brands to deliver exceptional customer experiences in real time. Leading brands across different verticals, including healthcare, hospitality, food & beverage, retail, and more, use Zingle to increase efficiency, improve operations and delight their customers.


11 Best Practices of a Successful Care Model Transformation Plan

Moha Desai, Principal, Healthcare Strategy & Transformation 

Health systems across the country will require a plan to react to government deep spending cuts and revenue shortfalls due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Hospital services have seen a significant downturn in demand in 2020, and the recent resurgence in cases has led to further decreases. The public health emergency has also resulted in innovation, most notably telehealth, which has been granted temporary pay parity during the pandemic.

Still, hospitals and health systems face a year of losses, but COVID-19 consequences like enhanced communication and flexible decision-making make now the time to adopt a cost-reduction care delivery model. I propose a widespread overhaul of all aspects of the care model to achieve system-wide cost-reduction. This should include using data analytics and feedback to evaluate service lines, the transition to low-cost care methods, and realign partners and payers towards a cost-reduction model.

Success will be measured by cost savings and patient satisfaction in permanently changing patient expectations, especially as payers continue the shift towards value-based reimbursement. This highly customizable model I propose can be tailored to any health system.

1. Evaluate current service lines.

Transforming each service line to a lower cost-of-care setting may not be possible. Those lines that are not bringing in stable revenue and are resistant to low-cost settings represent a drain on resources at a time where minimizing losses is paramount. Health systems should evaluate their existing services portfolio using data analytics, considering revenue, patient satisfaction, outcomes, operating costs, and potential for transformation to a lower cost-of-care setting.

2. Eliminate nonprofitable lines and manage costs of essential lines.

Because health systems today tend to be highly consolidated, there may be a wide range of profitable, nonprofitable, and essential lines. Nonprofitable lines that do not support quality patient outcomes and incur high operating costs or low reimbursement rates should be eliminated from the service mix. Reevaluating essential services can also reveal ways to manage high costs. This step results in a more focused and efficient heath system with reduced waste and an improved service portfolio.

3. Transition service lines to appropriate low-cost-of-care settings.

Each service line must be fit to an appropriate low-cost care model, like telehealth. The public health emergency made transitioning to virtual healthcare a necessity with the cost and patient satisfaction benefits it presents. Again, the use of big data and data informatics are essential in identifying where transitioning to virtual platforms is advantageous. Other strategies can be used in conjunction with telehealth, like preventative health service lines to reduce ER overutilization and rehospitalizations. Not all service lines will be conducive to a virtual setting. Alternate cost-effective and successful care settings include home healthcare, mobile healthcare units, home monitoring, and out-of-network partnerships.

4. Assess the efficacy of new and existing virtual health technology.

Existing virtual capabilities developed during the pandemic must be evaluated in a post-COVID-19 setting. Not all processes should be kept in this transition, and ineffective technologies could represent a further drain on hospital revenue without producing favorable results. 

5. Measure accuracy of diagnostic and treatment equipment and replace the obsolete. 

Obsolete technology represents money trapped in assets, especially real estate. Although investing in new technology raises costs in the short-term, the cost-reduction benefits that arise from lower operating costs, more efficient and accurate testing and diagnosis, and less unnecessary testing will more than makeup for the initial investment. Health systems should consider the investment of money and time in relation to the benefits when deciding which service lines should receive updated equipment. Again, data analytics can assess current asset performance and present opportunities for renovation.

6. Establish patient-centered care tactics.

Patient-centered care aligns with value-based care trends arising in payer reimbursement plans. This approach to care delivery reduces waste and unnecessary treatments, decreasing healthcare costs1 and improving patient outcomes and engagement2,3. Orienting the workforce towards delivering patient-centered care is a matter of culture change. Providers are encouraged to cut down on treatment volume and focus on treatment quality, saving the patient and the provider time and money.

7. Optimize provider workflow in context with the new care model.

The workforce will also require reeducation to operate new workflows associated with the cost-reduction model. Office setups, electronic health records, billing, and other aspects of workflow logistics will have to be rewritten. Modifications will require coordination from provider feedback, health IT, administrative staff, and reimbursement to be instituted efficiently into the everyday workflow. 

8. Integrate COVID-19 dashboards and reassign underutilized staff to communicate and enforce the new care model.

Health systems have opened communication lines that directly connect management and decision-making boards to all members of the workforce. The urgency in relaying decisions was paramount during the health crisis, and it will remain crucial to facilitate the execution of any changes to workflow and treatment protocols that accompany the new care model. Reassigning underutilized staff to enforce new policies can help monitor the care model’s progression.

9. Revisit partnerships and advocate for interoperability.

Health systems must shift to a “coopetition” model and operate through strategically aligned partners. Health systems should revisit partnerships with external agencies to determine if there are any opportunities to negotiate or modify the agreement to match the new care model and mutually benefit both parties. Where no advantageous partnerships exist, expand in-network capabilities. Partnerships are also a tool to expand coverage in areas that are in high demand post-pandemic, including home care and mental and behavioral health. Interoperability application programming interfaces (APIs) ensure there is effective and safe coordination of care between partners and in-network providers, which will significantly decrease administrative stress and facilitate secure transitions of care in addition to added capabilities with remote monitoring devices on the rise. 

10. Leverage payment parity for telehealth from payers.

Many fear that telehealth payment parity policies will not be upheld after the pandemic. Records of cost-reduction, higher patient outcomes, and stimulated patient and workforce engagement should be kept as evidence to leverage better telemedicine service coverage from payers. Health systems should freely share their successful results with payers and other health systems to encourage industry-wide virtualization and telehealth reimbursement. In fact, consortiums such as the Alliance for Connected Care exist with a public call for data to support concerted efforts.

11. Constantly reevaluate and improve.

More than ever, patients are showing drastic changes in their care delivery expectations, and health systems must be open to receiving feedback from consumers. Paying special attention to the needs of underrepresented patient populations that traditionally lack access will allow a more inclusive patient care model. Cooperation between health IT, technology developers, third-party telehealth vendors, and the workforce is essential in building customized virtual platforms. Cycles of trials including analytics and feedback will produce successful iterations to produce a final, optimized workflow.


About Moha Desai

Moha Desai is a Principal of Healthcare Strategy and Transformation where she focuses on driving forward strategic, planning, financial, revenue cycle, operational improvement, and patient engagement healthcare projects for providers, federal government health agencies, and various firms requiring growth, business development, and project implementation and management. She has previously served in leadership roles at Partners HealthCare, Deloitte Consulting, Bearing Point, etc. Moha received her B.A. in Economics from Columbia University and her M.B.A. at Yale University.


References:

1. Bertakis KD, Azari R. Patient-centered care is associated with decreased health care utilization. J Am Board Fam Med. 2011;24(3):229-239. doi:10.3122/jabfm.2011.03.100170

2. Priorities in Focus – Person- and Family-Centered Care | Agency for Health Research and Quality. Accessed August 26, 2020. https://www.ahrq.gov/workingforquality/reports/priorities-in-focus/priorities-in-focus-person-family-centeredcare.html

3. Kuehn BM. Patient-Centered Care Model Demands Better Physician-Patient Communication. JAMA. 2012;307(5):441-442. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.46

Vytalize Health Acquires Patient Financial Experience Platform MedPilot

Patient Financial Engagement Startup MedPilot Raises $1.5M to Fuel Expansion

What You Should Know:

– Vytalize Health acquires patient financial experience platform MedPilot to accelerate data-driven engagement technology to its ACO’s Medicare population.

– An alumnus of the Cedars-Sinai Accelerator, MedPilot’s platform has already helped over 1 million patients to date and boasts a 97% patient satisfaction score.  


Vytalize Health, a leading provider of value-based healthcare, has acquired MedPilot, a Cleveland-based patient financial experience platform. The acquisition brings Vytalize a unique, end-to-end patient engagement capability to manage its 65,000 Medicare patients and $1 billion of medical spending. Vytalize Health’s mission is, “To accelerate the world’s transition to value-based care by taking care of the doctors who take care of us.” Together, the combined companies aim to transform the $250 billion independent primary care provider Medicare market.

Simplifying the Billing Process for Patients

Healthcare providers and revenue cycle management companies don’t have an effective way to contact patients about their bills, relying on mailing expensive statements, and then traditional collection agencies. We help patients better understand and resolve their medical expenses. Founded in 2014, MedPilot’s patient financial management platform transforms patient billing through customized outreach tailored to people’s preferences.

Medpilot leverages a combination of emails, texts, calls, and statements to increase a provider’s chance of connecting with patients to resolve their balance. Using machine learning they continue to optimize their outreach strategies based on the patient’s interactions. The company also powers the healthcare provider’s administrative department by providing them with a tool to more effectively track patients, manage their experience, and monitor financial activity.

MedPilot has helped over 1 million patients and demonstrated a 97% patient satisfaction score. MedPilot’s proprietary engagement engine personalizes outreach based on various patient characteristics and then uses machine learning to optimize communications between the healthcare provider and patient. MedPilot had raised $3.5M from prominent investors, including Hudson River Capital, Wavemaker 360 Health, Tom Hirschfeld, Cedars-Sinai, Jumpstart, Techstars, and TurnCap.

Acquisition Benefits for Vytalize Health

Vytalize Health partners with independent providers in value-based care arrangements for Medicare beneficiaries. The company combines a Medicare ACO, virtual doctors’ office, and a digital health platform to equip its network of physicians with everything they need to be successful in caring for their patients and staying ahead in a rapidly changing healthcare system.

Vytalize Health’s acquisition of MedPilot enables them to offer their growing Medicare population a powerful solution for last-mile patient engagement. With more than $20M in investment going into the combined company and 800% year-over-year growth for the last two years, Vytalize is poised to achieve breakout leadership in the value-based care delivery space for Medicare patients.

In 2020, Vytalize created an Innovation Lab to attract and deploy digital health solutions in a value-based environment. MedPilot’s acquisition marks a significant success for the Vytalize Innovation Lab. It delivers on its promise to enable technology partners to deploy quickly across Medicare patients through their vertically integrated ACO, virtual medical practice, and platform.

“As we grew our ACO and began enhancing our infrastructure for Medicare’s Direct Contracting program, our vertically integrated care delivery system needed a solution for last-mile patient engagement,” said Vytalize CEO Faris Ghawi. “We couldn’t have asked for a better technology and team to fill this need. It’s been a pleasure to work together, and we are thrilled to deploy many more solutions through this platform to improve the patient experience and health outcomes while lowering healthcare costs.”

Post-Acquisition Plans

As part of the acquisition, more than 35 MedPilot employees will join Vytalize Health. Vytalize plans to continue to invest in MedPilot’s hometown of Cleveland due to its strong employee talent pool and healthcare ecosystem. MedPilot’s founders will also join Vytalize’s senior executive leadership team. These include:

– Jacob Myers, CEO, will join Vytalize as Chief Innovation Officer

– Nathan Spoden, COO, will become Vytalize’s Chief Product Officer

– Matt Buder Shapiro, Chief Marketing Officer, will retain his title

Financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Telehealth Helped Me Beat COVID-19, But It’s Just A Start

Telehealth Helped Me Beat COVID-19, But it’s Just A Start
Lisa Romano, MSN, RN, Chief Nursing Officer at CipherHealth

I was the voice of social distancing, a proponent of mask-wearing from the very start. Still, after months of keeping distance from loved ones, the idea of a quick, safe, outdoor family gathering on a beautiful fall day, even if we weren’t going to be wearing masks, was too good to pass up. 

A week later, I was sequestered in my bed, with a 103-degree-fever that didn’t break for 12 days, unrelenting migraines and aches, and what felt like an impossibly heavy weight on my chest, making breathing difficult and painful. There were three separate occasions during my fight with COVID-19 that I was encouraged to go to the hospital, but I refused. I was a nurse for 32 years, a Chief Nursing Officer at a medical software company, and I had a stash of medical equipment, most critically, a blood pressure cuff, a pulse oximeter, and a thermometer. In other words, I felt like I had the tools I needed to fight the battle at home. 

Aside from all that, though, I was scared. I thought I would die if I went to the hospital. I was also petrified by the isolation promised there, with visitation suspended amid the pandemic. 

So I stayed in bed, at home, where I could at least talk to my family, even if we were separated by walls or copious amounts of PPE. I laid prone; I bent over a hot bath to breath in the vapors. I did deep-breathing exercises, no matter how much it hurt to do so. 

And I talked to my doctor. A lot. 

Telehealth was the main reason I was able to stay out of the hospital. I talked to my doctor every day, through video chat, asynchronous messaging, or both. Before the pandemic, I thought telehealth was valuable in certain situations, but didn’t ever see it as a “change-the-world”  technology. I think differently now. Thanks to those virtual interactions with my doctor, I was able to manage this devastating virus at home. 

Telehealth, as valuable as it is, however, provides just one piece of the puzzle, especially when it comes to managing COVID-19 remotely. While engaged patients are better poised for success in any setting, it’s possible for a patient to remain somewhat passive in their own care in an inpatient setting, allowing doctors and nurses to take full ownership of care. The same can’t be said for at-home care with a condition like COVID-19. 

I was taking my own vital signs constantly and keeping meticulous notes about my condition. Note taking wasn’t just a matter of preference – it was a necessity. Not only was the volume of symptoms dizzying, the fever and brain fog made it impossible to think clearly or remember on my own, for example, whether I had already taken a given medication. I wrote down what was happening each day and used that information to guide the telehealth interactions I had with my doctor. A daily journal emerged with vital signs, questions for my doctor, and notation of symptoms. 

Having the tools at home to take my own vital signs significantly enhanced the effectiveness of my telehealth appointments, as I was able to provide up-to-the-minute oxygen saturation levels, heart rate, temperature and blood pressure. My doctor was able to take my report of symptoms and compare against my vital signs. My clinical background helped but the tools are user-friendly enough that with basic instruction initially can be used by the majority of patients.

As a longtime nurse, this was all familiar territory to me, but the disease still made it difficult and I had to rely on my family to help in many ways. They picked up prescriptions and administered them when needed. They advocated for me in ways they couldn’t have if I were in a hospital, especially without visitation. On the long road to recovery – months later, I’m still struggling with long-haul COVID symptoms like shortness of breath and persistent brain fog – they’re helping me stick to a care plan and remain active, informed participants in my recovery. 

The battle with COVID-19 truly was, and continues to be, one of the most challenging ordeals of my life. And I literally fought that fight in the best conditions possible – with a medical background, an employer that was understanding and let me take the time I needed, a home that allowed me to stay distanced from my family, an attentive medical care team I could interact with virtually, and family members that had the time and the resources to help me when I needed it most. 

So here’s my call to arms: When we look at the ravages of COVID-19 and its disproportionate effects on poor communities and communities of color, we need to keep in mind the critical role that social determinants of health play in this equation. As hospitals and ICUs increasingly reach capacity, telehealth and at-home care will become even more prevalent in treating COVID-19, but without the types of environmental factors – and devices – underpinning the success of my at-home care, patients, as well as their families, are bound to experience worsening outcomes. 

We need to consider all the elements patients need to heal effectively: Do they have insurance? Are they financially secure enough to be able to stay out of work and recover? Do they have access to remote monitoring devices? Do they have access to food and prescriptions? Do they pose an exposure risk to other members of their family? Do they understand their care plan and do their family members feel empowered to help them?

As providers think about remote care, digital engagement needs to be a prerequisite. By proactively understanding patient environments, care providers can arm patients and their families with the information and resources they need both to heal as well as recognize and address gaps in care. An engaged patient is a partner in their own care, is treated with dignity and respect, and has a better chance for recovery.


About Lisa Romano, MSN, RN As CipherHealth’s Chief Nursing Officer, Lisa Romano, MSN, RN brings more than 25 years of experience in clinical practice, healthcare IT strategy, and healthcare operations to her current role. Prior to previous CNO roles, Lisa spent 19 years as a nurse and hospital administrator at Lehigh Valley Hospital and Health Network in Allentown, PA, where she was responsible for all patient flow and transfer center operations as well as numerous quality and patient satisfaction initiatives. Lisa is passionate about improving the health of patients across the healthcare continuum.


M&A: Central Logic Acquires Patient Care Transition Platform Ensocare

M&A: Central Logic Acquires Patient Care Transition Platform Ensocare

What You Should Know:

– Central Logic has acquired Omaha-based Ensocare, which
automates the referral process for patients from hospital to post-acute care
(PAC) when they are being discharged.

– This acquisition means that Central Logic’s technology
solution will now expand its reach across the care continuum, from acute to
post-acute care—into, through and out of the health system. This combined
capability is key to increasing patient satisfaction while also increasing
patient census by ensuring beds are available when they are needed by new
patients.


Central Logic,
the leading healthcare access and orchestration company, announced today that
it has acquired
Omaha-based Ensocare, which automates
the inpatient referral process to post-acute care (PAC). Central Logic’s health
system technology solution currently focuses on referrals and transfers into a
health system by uniting all available provider, facility and transportation
resources. Financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Making Care Transition More Efficient

About 40% of Medicare beneficiaries are discharged from the hospital to post-acute facilities. With a
large aging population, U.S. health systems face growing pressures to improve
care access and streamline transitions of care to optimize patient outcomes,
increase operating margins, and control costs. 

Founded in 1999, Ensocare provides hospitals and post-acute care
providers software and proactive support to manage patient transitions of care,
improve efficiency in the referral management process and streamline
communication between healthcare organizations. Backed by live, 24/7 customer
support and tapping into the nation’s largest no-cost post-acute care network,
we’ll help you lower costs, enhance patient satisfaction and increase
profitability by automating workflows and eliminating inefficient systems.

Acquisition Expands Central Logic’s Solutions to Post-Acute
Care

The acquisition of Ensocare expands Central Logic’s solution
to include successful transitions out of hospitals to post-acute care
settings—including skilled nursing and rehabilitation facilities, long-term
acute care centers, and even the home—by tapping into Ensocare’s active,
curated network of more than 50,000 PAC providers nationwide. Placement
confirmations are secured on average within 30 minutes.

In light of the Ensocare
acquisition, Central Logic becomes the only solution in the market that
provides region-wide acute care transfer, transport and post-acute care
transfer capabilities in one platform, enabling health systems to more
cohesively operate as one.

Private Equity firm Rubicon Technology partners, a leading
private equity firm based in Boulder, Colo., made a strategic majority investment in Central Logic in June,
with a commitment to accelerating growth. Two weeks before Rubicon’s majority
investment in Central Logic, the PE firm announced a new $1.25 billion fund that exceeded the fund target
of $850 million in less than 6 months. The Ensocare acquisition marks the first
major milestone in Central Logic’s growth trajectory that Rubicon committed to
when making its strategic majority investment in the company earlier this year.

Expanded Footprint

Central Logic’s technology will now span 800 hospitals and
health systems, covering 150,000 providers and more than 5 million
patients—representing 14% of U.S. annual inpatient visits. he company now
employs 125 team members and will continue to operate Ensocare’s Omaha, Neb.,
location, as well as existing Central Logic offices in St. Paul, Minn., and
Sandy, Utah.

“This strategic acquisition means that our solutions will now span the care continuum from acute to post-acute care, which will improve transitions into, through and out of the health system, creating true ‘systemness’ for our clients,” said Angie Franks, CEO of Central Logic. “By operating as one, health systems can offer a more seamless experience for their patients across all acuity levels while enabling providers to stay connected and strengthening the relationships with PAC providers in their communities.”

Our fully integrated solution will provide visibility and access to data that ensures hospital beds are freed in a timely manner when inpatient care is no longer necessary. This decreases length of stay and increases throughput,” Franks said. “Further, this kind of efficient orchestration and navigation creates bed availability and access for incoming patients, creates more time for clinicians to operate at the top of their license and elevates revenue capture and reduction of system leakage.”

Central Logic’s existing solutions already deliver 10x ROI to health system clients in the first year, and Franks says that clients that expand their engagement to include the acute to post-acute orchestration and access solution will see even greater results. “This is more important now than ever as health systems across the country implement the necessary controls and programs to rebuild operating margin deficits due to COVID-19,” Franks added.

WELL Health Integrates with Cerner’s Patient Portal to Simplify Patient Communication

WELL Health Integrates with Cerner’s Patient Portal to Simplify Patient Communication

What You Should Know:

– Cerner is striking a deal with patient communication
hub company WELL Health to change its patient communication technology for its
provider customers.

– Through Cerner’s HealtheLife, the new capabilities will
pull from a myriad of systems and apps to help improve communication and reduce
administrative time for clinicians and staff.


Cerner Corporation, a global health care technology company, today announced new capabilities designed to take the interaction between clinicians and patients beyond email to text message conversations, helping solve for a gap in communication in health care. The new features, in collaboration with WELL Health Inc. and to be integrated into Cerner’s patient portal, are designed to help improve patients’ engagement with clinicians through intelligent and automated communication.

New capabilities will unify and automate previously
disjointed communications, enhance patient engagement, and save clinicians time

Through Cerner’s HealtheLife, the new capabilities will
pull from a myriad of systems and apps to help improve communication and reduce
administrative time for clinicians and staff. Organizations can use the new
automation features to deliver critical health information, send flu shot
reminders, reschedule appointments, schedule virtual visits and prompt patients
to set up needed medical transportation. Additional benefits are expected to:

– Improve patient satisfaction, retention and acquisition
through timely communication and reduced hold queues, missed calls and email
delays.

– Save time spent scheduling and communicating with patients
by using automated workflows that reply and route based on patient responses.

– Reduce time spent on billing and payment collections by
auto-notifying patients when new bills are ready for payment.

“WELL Health is focused on what patients expect today – near real-time, personalized communication on their terms. We aim to move beyond the days of playing phone tag, leaving voicemails and expecting patients to continue showing up,” said Guillaume de Zwirek, CEO and founder, WELL Health. “WELL Health supports patients to text their health care provider like they would text a friend. For a provider’s staff, WELL Health is designed to unify and automate disjointed communications across the organization, helping to reduce unnecessary stress and limiting potential errors.”

Why It Matters

More than 5 billion people spend nearly
a quarter of their day on their mobile phones. In fact, in the last few years,
the number of active
cellphone subscriptions exceeded the number of people
 on Earth. Giving
patients the same person-centric digital experience in health care as they
receive from other industries has become increasingly important. Teaming with
WELL Health, Cerner will make technology more useable for health systems and
patients by meeting consumers where they are spending their time.

“Cerner is committed to making it easier for providers to create the engaging, comprehensive health care experiences that patients expect and deserve,” said David Bradshaw, senior vice president, consumer and employer solutions, Cerner. “By bringing patient data from different systems and streamlining in one unified view, we are strengthening our clients’ ability to build meaningful relationships with patients through a convenient, digital experience that has become a part of everyday life.”

How Data-Driven Technology Holds The Promise of Better Outcomes for Vascular Patients

How Data-Driven Technology Holds The Promise of Better Outcomes for Vascular Patients

Abbott recently released global research on vascular patient care, designed to shine a light on the vascular patient journey. The report called “Beyond Intervention” uncovers the universal challenges faced by physicians who deliver vascular care, their patients, and the hospital administrators who support them. It also explores how the right use of technology and data could potentially enable more precise diagnoses and better treatment strategies to ensure the best possible patient outcomes. 

To establish what the state of vascular care looks like around the world today, Abbott surveyed over 1,400 patients, physicians, and health system administrators from nine countries. 

The research revealed how important personalized care is for patients. This was a sentiment that came through loud and clear from all the patients surveyed, regardless of geography. Patients desire more of a “tailored for me” approach from their physicians. This includes more face-to-face interaction and time with their doctor, with the ability to have all of their questions addressed.

Likewise, doctors sighted a scarcity of time spent with their patients as well as their limited visibility into patient adherence to treatment and lifestyle changes and challenges with other key factors that influence the quality of care they can provide.

What exactly does more personalized care look like? Here are some of the ideas that resonated with the vascular patients who responded to the survey:

– A consultative, two-way patient-doctor relationship, with the patient playing an active role in informed decision-making

– An individualized treatment plan based on the doctor’s ability to review relevant data pertaining to successes achieved with similar patients (“How did patients like me get better?”)

– Effective and seamless information-sharing among the primary care provider, hospital specialists, and healthcare systems, as well as with individual patients themselves via computer or smart applications.

– The ability for the doctor to monitor the patient’s progress remotely and provide information to verify that the personalized treatment is working, and to pick up early warning signs of relapse or deterioration

If more personalized care is what patients desire, then how can the use of technology and data enable this? We already see signs of this in the form of telemedicine and personalized care plans used to treat patients with chronic disease. We have also seen remote patient monitoring become a necessity and, in the age of COVID-19, a new standard of care, keeping patients “connected” with their physicians. This suggests that health care is moving in the right direction. Rather than simply treating the patient at a point in time for an illness, technology has the potential to harness the power of data to optimize care across the entire patient journey – before, during, and after the intervention. By focusing on the whole patient, and by placing him or her at the center of the healthcare world, providers can see beyond the intervention alone. 

The survey also revealed that hospital administrators’ top priority focused on patient satisfaction; successful outcomes that boost the number of satisfied and healthy patients while reducing hospital readmissions and costs. The results showed that administrators place a greater priority on plugging data gaps pertaining to outcomes than the total cost of care.

If the intention is to build data-driven technological solutions that see the whole patient, that could shift the focus from illness and intervention to wellness and prevention, potentially lightening the burden on providers, and delivering a higher quality of life for patients, also at a lower cost. 

The existing model of care is clearly not working to its full potential, to the detriment of everyone who must navigate it. But overhauling a healthcare system that is so entrenched in structure and institutional practices is not something that can happen overnight. Change will happen incrementally with the input of all stakeholders. It is up to us in the world of medical devices and technology to take our cues from the medical community, patient advocates, and healthcare systems big and small.

The research motivates us to continuously improve upon what we have already delivered and ask ourselves how we can make our products even better. Without knowledge of their pain points or insights into the challenges they face daily, we would not be able to effectively meet patients’ needs. This research also reinforces what Abbott is consistently striving to achieve: building life-changing technologies to improve the patient’s quality of life and help them live their best lives.

How Data-Driven Technology Holds The Promise of Better Outcomes for Vascular Patients

Cerner Releases Open Call for EHR-Integrated Voice Assist Testing Partners

Cerner Launches AI-Powered Chart Assist to Combat Physician Burnout

Cerner announces an open call for additional health systems to sign on as testing partners of their EHR-integrated Voice Assist technology. Voice Assist will allow clinicians to interact with the EHR by just using their voice. Clinicians will be able to issue voice commands to complete a range of tasks that can save significant time and reduce the administrative burden on care teams by replacing manual data documentation.

How Voice Assist Technology Works

 Using the phrase ‘Hey
Cerner,’ clinicians will be able to search for and retrieve information from
patient records, place medication orders and set up reminders. Clinicians will
be able to seamlessly switch between dictating the clinical note and navigating
the patient’s chart, improving efficiency and enhancing the health care
experience. 

Examples of Voice Assist’s current functionality
include:

Chart Search  “What is the latest white blood cell
count?” 
Reminders  “Remind me to call the patient in 6 months
about their high cholesterol”  
Orders  “Order Lipitor 40 mg oral
tablet”  
Documentation  “Show me my last note” 
Navigation  “Take me to family history” 

St. Joseph’s Health and Indiana
University Health
 are two clients who have already signed on
and are gearing up to roll out the technology.

“St. Joseph’s Health is excited to pilot Cerner’s Voice Assist technology, which will enable our clinicians to complete several tasks in the EHR via voice commands. We envision that this technology will be conducive to more meaningful clinician patient interaction since the clinicians will spend less time manually documenting. We hope to see improved efficiency, clinician and patient satisfaction throughout this trial period.” – Lisa Green, Director Clinical Information Systems, St. Joseph’s Health.

“At IU Health, we’re creating designated innovations centers where we trial the latest new technologies in real clinical workflows. This allows us to move new tools into our system rapidly and iteratively. We’re excited to pilot Cerner’s Voice Assist, which will allow our clinician’s to handle several tasks in the EHR with their voice. This technology will help our clinicians to focus their attention on their patients. We believe voice has the potential to increase clinician efficiency and hopefully, result in higher patient and clinician satisfaction.” – Cliff J. Hohban, Vice President, IS, Applications & PMO, IU Health

Availability

Voice Assist is supported with Nuance’s virtual assistant
capability and is expected to be widely available in 2021.

WellSky Acquires CarePort Health from Allscripts for $1.35B

WellSky Acquires CarePort Health from Allscripts for $1.35B

What You Should Know:

– Health technology leader WellSky has agreed to acquire
CarePort Health to power coordinated care transitions for acute and post-acute
care patients for $1.35B.

– By providing end-to-end visibility across the
continuum, WellSky and CarePort can improve outcomes, lower costs, and increase
patient satisfaction.


WellSky, a global health, and community care technology company, announced today that it has entered into a definitive agreement with Allscripts to acquire CarePort Health (“CarePort”), a Boston, MA-based care coordination software company that connects acute and post-acute providers and payers.


Financial Details

The agreed sale price of $1.35 billion represents a multiple
of greater than 13 times CarePort’s revenue over the trailing 12 months, and
approximately 21 times CarePort’s non-GAAP Adjusted EBITDA over the trailing 12
months. CarePort is included in Allscripts Data, Analytics and Care Coordination
reporting segment and represents approximately 6% of Allscripts consolidated
revenues. Reference should be made to the Allscripts quarterly earnings reports
and supplemental financial data for a reconciliation of non-GAAP Adjusted
EBITDA. William Blair and J.P. Morgan Securities, LLC acted as financial
advisors to Allscripts in connection with the sale of CarePort.


Acquisition Enhances Care Coordination Across Acute,
Post-Acute Continuum

As part of the acquisition, WellSky and CarePort will facilitate effective patient care transitions across the continuum — driving better outcomes for patients, providers, and payers. With the addition of CarePort, WellSky is uniquely positioned to manage the acute care discharge process, track patients across post-acute care settings, apply patient and population-level analytics, and support EMR-based care protocols.

CarePort’s EHR-agnostic suite of solutions connects the
discharge process with post-discharge care coordination — allowing providers
and payers to track and manage patients throughout their care journey. By
providing end-to-end visibility across the continuum, WellSky and CarePort can
improve outcomes, lower costs, and increase patient satisfaction.


“As part of the WellSky team, we will be able to accelerate our mission to connect providers across the continuum. Both of our organizations are aligned in our dedication to proactively bridging gaps in care. Together, we have the technology, analytics, and network to ensure that patients receive seamless care,” said Dr. Lissy Hu, CEO of CarePort. “Joining WellSky means that we can increase vital connections between acute, post-acute, and community care providers to make a meaningful difference in the lives of more patients in more places.”


With WellSky’s deep experience in post-acute care and
CarePort’s suite of care coordination solutions, this combination is a natural
fit. CarePort clients will gain access to a broader network of post-acute
providers and can leverage WellSky’s powerful predictive analytics suite, and
leading value-based care technologies. This combination of capabilities will
enable health systems, payers, and post-acute providers to more effectively
collaborate in a data-driven way and enhance patient outcomes.


“Together with CarePort, WellSky will establish new, meaningful connections between historically disparate settings of care. We have the exciting opportunity to bring care coordination to more providers in service of delivering more informed, personalized care,” said Bill Miller, CEO of WellSky. “Through this agreement, we’re ensuring our clients have the intelligent technology they need to do right by their patients, collaborate with payers, and succeed in value-based care models. It’s WellSky’s mission to realize care’s potential, and this moves us that much closer to achieving it.”


Intermountain to Deploy AI-Powered Digital Assistants Across Clinically Integrated Network

Intermountain to Deploy AI-Powered Digital Assistants Across Clinically Integrated Network

What You Should Know:

– Intermountain Healthcare announced it will scale
Notable’s AI-driven platform across the health system’s clinically integrated
network to support thousands of providers, automate administrative workflows,
streamline the check-in experience for patients, and simplify provider
follow-up.

– The Notable Platform uses intelligent automation to identify and engage more patients in need of care and enables staff and clinicians to better serve patients by eliminating manual, administrative tasks like registration, documentation, and billing. 


Intermountain
Healthcare
, today announced it is partnering with Notable Health to reimagine the
manual, repetitive administrative aspects of patient intake and post-visit
follow-up into a fully automated, intuitive digital experience across the
health system’s clinically integrated network (CIN).

Empowering Digital Transformation from Check-In Through Collections

Intermountain to Deploy AI-Powered Digital Assistants Across Clinically Integrated Network

Intermountain is harnessing Notable Health’s platform to
digitally transform ambulatory check-ins through mobile registration and
virtual clinical intake for both in-person and telemedicine appointments.
Available within general internal medicine groups in the Salt Lake City region,
over 55 percent of patients from these clinics are now completing their entire
digital check-in prior to their office visit, decreasing check-in time by 25
percent. Intermountain reports an industry-leading 94 percent patient
satisfaction rating for their digital check-in and registration experience,
including 86 percent for patients 65 and older.

Notable extends the capabilities of My Health+, Intermountain’s health app, with digital assistants that automate administrative workflows for staff, streamline the check-in experience for patients and simplify follow-up for providers. Following an initial deployment that went live in under one month and results realized across over 100 providers, Intermountain will scale the Notable Platform to support thousands of providers within additional specialties and states across the clinically integrated network in the coming months.

Initial Notable Deployment Outcomes/Results for Intermountain

Intermountain to Deploy AI-Powered Digital Assistants Across Clinically Integrated Network

Intermountain patients benefit from a digital intake process
that assists with registration, verifies insurance eligibility, and prompts
patients to enter symptoms and medications directly from their smartphone through
dynamic questionnaires customized for an individual’s medical history. The
platform enables patients to complete their entire check-in before their visit
for a touchless, paper-free experience. This reduces the number of people in
waiting rooms, and patients can be offered virtual visit options when
appropriate.

Today’s announcement comes after general internal medicine
groups in the Salt Lake City region generated significant results across 100+
Intermountain providers:

· By automating clinical documentation through the Notable
Platform, Intermountain medical assistants save 30 minutes of charting time per
day;

· More than half of patients now complete their entire
digital check-in prior to their office visit, decreasing check-in time by 25%;
and

· Patient satisfaction ratings for digital check-in and
registration have topped 94%, including 86% for patients 65 and older.

“Creating a more seamless and empowered consumer experience is critical to meeting evolving patient expectations. This starts with digitally transforming the complex process of accessing and registering for care,” said Kevan Mabbutt, senior vice president and chief consumer officer at Intermountain. “By engaging patients to provide information through My Health+ about their health before their visit, we can better address what type of care our patients need, and where and when they can receive it across the care delivery continuum.”

Amwell and Cigna Ranks High in Telehealth Patient Satisfaction, J.D. Power Finds

What You Should Know:

– Amwell ranks highest among direct to consumer brands
and Cigna ranks highest among health plans for telehealth patient satisfaction,
according to the J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Telehealth Satisfaction Study

– Though telehealth has been pitched as a solution to
improve access to healthcare for everyone, more than half (52%) of telehealth
users say they encountered at least one barrier that made it difficult to use
telehealth.


Patient satisfaction with telehealth
services has been increasing during the COVID-19 pandemic, but several barriers
to access still exist for many patients, including those most at risk, according
to the J.D.
Power 2020 U.S. Telehealth Satisfaction Study
.

The J.D. Power U.S. Telehealth Satisfaction Study, now in
its second year, measures consumer satisfaction with their telehealth service
experience based on four factors (in order of importance): customer service
(42%); consultation (28%); enrollment (19%); and billing and payment (11%). The
study is based on responses of 4,302 health consumers who used a telehealth
service within the past 12 months. It was fielded in June-July 2020.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been a moment of truth for telehealth, and, by most accounts, the technology is rising to the challenge and delivering a high degree of satisfaction among those who use it,” said James Beem, managing director of global healthcare intelligence at J.D. Power. “However, even though the public awareness with Telehealth is higher due to the influence of COVID-19, the barriers for the consumer to engage with the technology has been a consistent theme in our research.”

Key Findings

Key findings of the 2020 study include:

Amwell ranks highest in telehealth satisfaction among direct-to-consumer brands, with a score of 885. Doctor on Demand (879) ranks second.

Cigna ranks highest among payers of health plan-provided telehealth services with a score of 874. Kaiser Foundation Health Plan (867) ranks second and UnitedHealthcare (865) ranks third.

– Great patient experience: The overall customer satisfaction score for telehealth services is 860 (on a 1,000-point scale), which is among the highest of all healthcare, insurance and financial services industry studies conducted by J.D. Power.

– Barriers to access persist: Though telehealth has been pitched as a solution to improve access to healthcare for everyone, more than half (52%) of telehealth users say they encountered at least one barrier that made it difficult to use telehealth. The most common hurdles are limited services (24%); confusing technology requirements (17%); and lack of awareness of cost (15%). Additionally, 35% of telehealth users indicate they experienced a problem during a visit. Tech audio issues (26%) are the most common problem.

– At-risk patients have lower levels of satisfaction: Overall satisfaction is 117 points lower among patients with the lowest self-reported health status than among patients who consider themselves to be in excellent health. Similarly, healthier patients are significantly more likely to understand the information provided during the visit, receive clear explanations, feel their visits are highly personalized and obtain a high-quality diagnosis.

– Safety becomes a top driver of utilization: Among patients who used a telehealth offering this year, 46% say their top reason for choosing telehealth was safety. That compares with just 13% in 2019.

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.


Success at a glance: 24/7 patient access

The age of consumerism has been a catalyst in the shift towards patient-centered care, driving hospitals and health systems across the board to evaluate and improve their current methods of patient access. For one multi-specialty medical group, fast and easy access to care meant providing strategic tools for patients to use beyond the four walls of the organization and outside of the traditional hours of the practice.

In order to provide a more flexible and convenient method to access care, CareMount Medical, the largest independent multi-specialty group in New York State, turned to Experian Health to enable online self-scheduling. With it in place, patients now have the ability to schedule an appointment online, across any specialty, any time of day or night.

Providers’ scheduling protocols are automated within the solution to accurately match patients with the right provider and appointment based on care need. Those same protocols are also used to prevent overbooking, allowing providers to maintain close and comfortable control over their calendars.

Improved call center efficiencies. Automated scheduling relieves call center staff of the associated administrative work, allowing more time for nurses and other credentialed staff to answer health questions and concerns over the phone.

Increased patient acquisition and retention. In addition to attracting new patients, the solution has proven valuable for patient retention. Since implementation, the organization has seen on average 30 online appointment bookings per provider per month.

Higher patient satisfaction. Patients are no longer required to call to schedule an appointment during office hours. This level of convenience gives patients more control over their day and has contributed to rising patient satisfaction scores for the organization as a whole.

Continued Improvements. Real-time analytics and dashboards provide direct line-of-sight into scheduling activity, helping leaders at CareMount Medical to both identify areas for improvement and fine-tune the process to further improve online bookings.

“Experian Health’s guided search and scheduling solution adds immediate benefits for our patients, supporting our commitment to provide our patients with cutting-edge technology in the convenience of their home.”

Scott D. Hayworth, MD, FACOG, President & CEO, CareMount Medical

Learn more about how your organization can improve patient access with patient scheduling from Experian Health.

The post Success at a glance: 24/7 patient access appeared first on Healthcare Blog.

Designing A Digital Experience to Drive Revenue and Patient Engagement

 Designing A Digital Experience to Drive Revenue and Patient Engagement
Bill Krause, VP and GM, Digital Experience and Consumer Engagement at Change Healthcare

With the rise of healthcare consumerism, people are looking to hospitals, health systems, and physician practices to deliver the same user-friendly, digital experiences they receive from other industries. A recent survey found that more than 80% of consumers surveyed believe “shopping for healthcare should be as easy as shopping for other common services.” Specifically, they want streamlined access points online where they can shop for and purchase healthcare, easily make appointments, understand what they need to pay, make payments, and set up payment plans – or even obtain financing for care if the estimated costs exceed their budgets. 

These types of digital experiences help providers recruit new patients and keep them engaged, which leads to better outcomes for both the health of the patient and the financial health of the practice. Unfortunately, most healthcare organizations aren’t ready to provide this level of convenience. In part, this is because they have relied on patient portals as their main digital engagement tool to date.

The problem with portals

There are a few reasons why patient portals underdeliver. First, portals are only for patients that have an existing relationship with a provider. However, the patient experience begins when consumers start shopping for care. Relying on a portal alone is a missed opportunity to generate new patient business.  

Second, portals don’t mirror what consumers expect from digital solutions. The interfaces are clunky, the functionality is limited, and the technology only supports a pull strategy, meaning that it waits for the patient to come to it rather than periodically reaching out and prompting the individual to take action.

Third, a patient must be logged into a portal before they can do anything with it. This makes it harder to schedule appointments with new physicians because there is not an established connection. In these cases, the patient must pick up the phone, wait on hold, set up an account, possibly wade through insurance approval and pre-authorization, and then make the appointment. 

Finally, portals aren’t ideal for communicating costs. While some allow the patient to pay co-pays, they aren’t designed to give realistic cost estimates, offer payment plans, suggest alternative funding sources, and so on.

Taken together, these challenges result in low, inconsistent portal use. Even if a hospital indicates that 50% of its patients access the portal, one-time or limited use should not be viewed as patient engagement. Instead, to realize true engagement, organizations should be thinking about ways to foster two-way conversations to keep new and existing patients focused on their health and how the hospital, health system, or physician practice can meet their needs. This improves patients’ experience and builds loyalty, while also reducing leakage and growing revenue. 

What are the risks of poor digital engagement? 

Without a well-considered plan for providing a retail-like shopping experience that includes transparent cost information, healthcare organizations run the risk of losing patients. This is especially important as the marketplace becomes more competitive and focused on patient experience, and retail clinics continue to pop-up around the country. 

In addition to market changes, regulatory pressures are also making patient-centric financial communications a necessity. Several states are implementing price transparency regulations, and a federal requirement is right around the corner. To meet these standards, organizations will need effective tools that reliably determine and share prices with patients in advance of their appointments.

So where do organizations go from here? 

It’s clear that patient portals are not the answer. But how can organizations do a better job of giving patients the convenience they seek? Here are four best practices to consider.

1. Evaluate your organization’s digital tools.

The first step is to take a hard look at the digital solutions you currently provide and compare them to those available from other industries, such as travel, retail, and financial services. Consumers want a digital, retail-like shopping experience where they can search local providers, compare reviews and costs, schedule their treatment, and even pay – all in one intuitive place.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that only younger people want these tools. Research shows that more and more older adults are embracing mobile activities like online banking. In fact, The Harris Poll found that 80% of Baby Boomers (individuals between 56-76 years old) “wish there was a single place to shop for and purchase care.” 

Digital tools designed to improve access and transparency while making it easier to pay create more engaged consumers and provide a better patient experience. Achieving this dual dynamic requires digital tools are part of a comprehensive end-to-end solution.  

2. Streamline access to shoppable services

These are elective procedures and screening tests that an individual can schedule in advance and include things like planned joint replacements, colonoscopies, and mammograms. Healthcare organizations offer standardized pricing for these services, allowing patients to shop around for the best price, location, and experience. 

When patients are able to use a digital tool to research a service, set an appointment, and make a payment, it can drive patient satisfaction and increase the chances the individual will choose to have the procedure with the organization supplying the tool. With 67% of consumers stating they would “shop for healthcare entirely online, like any other products and services,” streamlining access to shoppable services will drive engagement and revenue. 

3. Adopt tools that help people understand their care costs.

More than half of consumers surveyed for The Harris Poll said they have “avoided seeking care because they weren’t sure what the price would be.” The biggest hurdle to accessing care is price transparency, resulting in patients not getting the treatment they need and in poor revenue management for a practice. 

Patients are more likely to pay their portion up front when they understand what they owe and feel confident that the cost information provided has taken into consideration their current insurance, deductibles, and co-pays. A key to accurate estimates is an automated solution that checks the patient’s insurance digitally, determines the benefits, reviews the amount of any deductible, and verifies whether the individual has already met their deductible. When a patient financial tool also offers the ability to make payments or set up a payment plan, it can increase patients’ propensity to pay, boost the amount of self-pay funds the organization collects, and substantially reduce the cost-to-collect.

4. Enable digital appointment scheduling

Consumers view scheduling and rescheduling appointments as a very difficult task.  Digital solutions can address this pain point. Mobile tools and apps that patients can use to schedule appointments monitor wait times, digitally complete forms, and check-in for appointments are essential to breaking down some of the barriers to patient access. 

Before onboarding a tool like this, organizations must think through the change management challenges in getting all stakeholders on board. Historically, physicians have been hesitant to open up their calendars to permit digital scheduling. However, transparency and standardization are becoming increasingly important to meet patient demand and are necessary to make these types of tools work smoothly.

Although digital tools are gaining popularity among all generations, there are still people who prefer to pick up the phone to price, schedule, and pay for care. In addition to digital solutions, organizations should have service-oriented call centers to work with these patients. Such centers should have well-trained professionals who are available during and outside of traditional business hours so patients can access the information they need when they need it.

Relying on the status quo is not wise

Healthcare is only going to become more consumer-driven as high-deductible health plans continue to disrupt the industry. Hospitals, health systems, and physician practices cannot afford to rely on outdated technologies that don’t facilitate two-way conversations or the digital experience patients expect. To compete today and in the future, organizations need a comprehensive, retail-like solution that offers a seamless user experience and spans the entire patient journey. Tools and technologies used in combination with putting the patient first will build loyalty while also improving an organization’s clinical and financial outcomes.


About Bill Krause

Bill Krause is the Vice President of Experience Solutions at Change Healthcare. Serving the healthcare industry for over 12 years, Bill leads innovation and solution development for patient experience management at Change Healthcare. In this role, he is responsible for the development and execution of strategies that enable healthcare organizations to realize value through leading-edge consumer engagement capabilities.

Previously, Bill provided insights and direction into new product and service strategies for McKesson and Change Healthcare. He also managed business development planning, partnerships, and corporate development across a variety of healthcare services and technology lines of business for those companies.

Prior to McKesson, Bill worked at McKinsey & Company as a strategy consultant, serving a variety of clients in healthcare and other industries.  He received his MBA from Harvard Business School and his undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia. He also served as a lieutenant in the United States Navy.

Vocera Acquires Secure Communications Platform EASE Applications

Vocera Acquires Secure Communications Platform EASE Applications

What You Should Know:

– Today Vocera Communications acquires EASE Applications,
a provider of a secure communication platform and mobile application that
delivers updates, messages to patients’ loved ones, during surgeries and at
other times.

– The Orlando-based EASE offers a cloud-based service
that is built to improve the patient experience by enabling friends and family
members to receive timely updates about the progress of loved ones in the
hospitals. Care team members can send a patient’s loved ones HIPAA-compliant
texts, photos, and video updates putting them at ease and saving valuable time.


Vocera Communications,
Inc., 
a provider of clinical communication and workflow solutions,
today announced that it has acquired
EASE (Electronic Access to Surgical
Events),
based in Orlando, FL. EASE offers a cloud-based communication
platform and mobile application built to improve the patient
experience by enabling friends and family members to receive timely updates
about the progress of their loved one in the hospital. The EASE app
enables nurses and other care team members to send HIPAA-compliant texts,
photos, and video updates to patients’ loved ones, putting them at ease and
saving valuable time.

Patients can add friends and family members to their distribution list; and with a simple tap, caregivers can keep them informed and ease their concerns. Messages, pictures, and videos sent disappear 60 seconds after being viewed, and nothing is saved on the mobile device, providing an additional layer of security and privacy. The application also provides secure two-way video conferencing between patients’ families and care teams. Additionally, EASE enables care team members to customize in-app surveys, offering a quick way to track and improve patient engagement and satisfaction in real-time, and giving feedback and support for the caregivers.

Return on Investment

With more than 1.6 million sent messages, the EASE
application has demonstrated improved patient and family satisfaction and
reduced the number of phone calls from loved ones to the hospital. In one study
with approximately 2,500 family members, 98% said that EASE reduced their
anxiety, and 81% reported that the availability of EASE would influence their
choice of hospital. Additionally, patient satisfaction scores increased by an
average of 6% for patients who used EASE compared to patients who did not use
the application.

Issuance of Restricted Stock Units

As part of the onboarding process, Vocera will issue
restricted stock units totaling approximately 60,000 shares of Vocera common
stock to approximately eleven employees of EASE. These restricted stock units
will vest over three years after the closing and will be made from an
inducement plan adopted by the company’s board of directors pursuant to the
inducement exemption provided under the NYSE listing rules.

Why Now Is The Time to Reimagine Healthcare Through Technology

The Tech Isn’t New – It’s Time to Embrace It (How Patient Comforts Improve All of Healthcare)
Jeff Fallon, CEO, eVideon

It wasn’t that long ago that people went to the bank on a Friday to cash their paper paychecks. Maybe they’d put some in checking and take some out in cash. They’d go to the grocery store over the weekend and maybe write one of those checks. Everyone always had to have a pen with them.

It wasn’t that long ago that people would call the ticket agent and discuss flight options for vacation. They’d send a paper ticket in the mail. When it was time to go, people would carry that ticket with them through the airport and onto the plane. (Of course, people could also keep their shoes on and could bring as much shampoo as their heart desired).

It wasn’t that long ago that if someone needed surgery, they’d have to call to schedule it. The hospital would call again the day before to tell them what time to come. People would travel there, fill out a bunch of paperwork, and be wheeled around to several different areas and talk to several different people. Eventually, they’d wake up post-surgery in a hallway with a bunch of other people and hopefully a family member. They’d wheel the person to their room where they’d have a small TV for entertainment, a dry erase board with some names on it and maybe the room number, and a stack of papers on the bedside table – cafeteria menus, instructions, important phone numbers and the like.

Oh wait – that time is now.

Better, more convenient systems are a no brainer for industries like banking and travel, but the hospital experience is still rife with paper handouts, basic cable packages, and manual dry erase boards with markers that don’t work half the time. Patients shouldn’t settle for that, and in this era when COVID-19 has led healthcare to embrace lots of other conveniences (like telehealth for remote doctors’ appointments), they won’t settle for it anymore.

Imagine a new kind of hospital room. While nobody should take a patient’s TV away, there’s so much more that can be done with patient TV. Most people have smart TVs in their homes that serve as a complete hub for their entertainment. Add a smartphone to the mix, and people can do nearly anything from their couch. A hospital bed should be no different.

Since EMRs became mandatory years ago, hospitals have relied on them as the source of truth for patient records and information. But EMRs paired with additional technology can do so much more. Now, hospitals can pull information from the EMR to personalize the patient experience. Imagine a hospital room TV greeting you by name with soothing music and welcoming imagery. Imagine the pillow speaker handset transforming into a smart TV remote where you can peruse movies on demand, live TV, or Netflix. Take it a step further – imagine that TV can talk to your EMR, so you can watch educational content just for you based on your condition, so you can learn about your care, treatment, and how to recover when you go home. 

Imagine adding more systems. Integrate dietary systems (in concert with the EMR) to let patients order their meals without sifting through paper and dialing phone numbers – as they do at home when they’re using DoorDash. Imagine letting patients dim the lights, request a blanket, or turn the thermostat up if they’re cold, without climbing out of bed and risking a fall. Imagine letting patients use their phones to input important information for the care team to know, or to video chat with a “visitor,” even during a pandemic when in-person visits aren’t allowed – even if the person on the other end doesn’t have a Zoom account or an iPhone for FaceTime.

Imagine never seeing a dry erase board in a patient room again. Instead, a digital display automatically updates with all the patient’s latest information, based on what’s in the EMR. 

Imagine up-to-the-minute precautions displayed instantly and digitally outside each patient’s room so care teams know what PPE they need before they go in.

Technology exists to do all these things. The early adopters are already seeing increased patient satisfaction scores that seem to consistently climb. Beyond that, especially now when nurse retention and preventing care team burnout are paramount, these technologies alleviate the burden on them. Streamlining, digitizing, and virtualizing all aspects of care and a patient’s time in the hospital benefits staff, too. When nurses don’t have to search all over to find markers that work or run back and forth to the printer to get pages of hand-outs for patients, they can spend more quality face time with patients and operate at top of license. 

When patient education is delivered in the right way, at the right time to the bedside, you’re not just saving printer paper – you’re giving patients the tools to succeed at home and avoid costly readmissions. It’s time to reimagine healthcare, and there’s no better time than now when the window to adopt new technology is wide open.


About Jeff Fallon

Jeff Fallon brings over 30 years of experience in healthcare technology, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, and diagnostics to eVideon as their Chief Executive Officer. Prior to joining eVideon, he helped distinguished organizations such as Johnson & Johnson and patient experience technology companies forge innovative strategic relationships and strategies.

COVID-19: 4 Essential Patient Payment Strategy Components to Accelerate Cash Flow

Accelerating Cash Flow Amid COVID-19
David Shelton, PatientMatters CEO

In the past few months, the COVID-19 pandemic has shaken societies, economies, and human wellbeing to the core. While protecting public health and welfare are top priorities for hospitals, the harsh reality is that it takes cash to keep the doors open and serve patients effectively. Revenue is down significantly as a result of canceled elective surgeries, while the costs of medical supplies and in-demand personal protective equipment for workers have skyrocketed. Hospitals’ operating challenges are expected to continue, with Moody’s Investors Service predicting cash flow will remain low into next year.

Further exacerbating hospitals’ financial woes is the rise in coronavirus-related unemployment and part-time employment, and the subsequent loss of patients’ job-based health insurance. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that unemployment fell 2.2 percentage points to 11.1 percent in June, as businesses began reopening, however, even with this bit of good news, nearly 18 million people in America are still unemployed. Many more face financial uncertainty as regional spikes in virus cases threaten to slow rehiring and a return to normal. 

As consumer income goes down and debt goes up, many utility companies, auto lenders, credit card issuers, and mortgage holders are offering debt relief options to their customers. On the flip side, other organizations, including some hospitals, have attracted attention for the aggressive collection of unpaid bills, prompting several states to limit actions such as suing, coercive payment plans, and wage garnishment during the pandemic. Critics of these practices say there are better ways for hospitals to collect unpaid debt, especially when patients are dealing with the unprecedented financial and emotional stress caused by COVID-19. 

A Better Approach to Patient Collections

Experience shows that a personalized, patient-friendly approach to the financial side of healthcare yields better results. Hospitals that create a positive patient financial experience often see higher front-end collections, total collections, and patient satisfaction; and lower accounts receivable (AR) days and bad debt. 

To be most effective, personalized patient payment strategies must be comprehensive and incorporate four essential components to balance patient needs with hospital revenue goals: 1) data-driven technology, 2) customizable workflows, 3) staff training and 4) ongoing analytics. Considering the urgent need for hospitals to accelerate cash flow amid the pandemic, payment strategy implementation should also be done quickly and without detracting from other operational and clinical priorities.   

Essential component #1: Data-driven technology

A truly personalized payment solution relies on providing accurate bill estimates and determining patients’ ability and likelihood to pay prior to care. Advanced tools use current financial data and algorithms to assign scores based on credit information, payment history, and residual income. These results help registration staff understand each patient’s unique character traits so they can quickly identify and accurately explain personalized payment options to help patients meet their financial responsibilities.

Essential Component #2: Customizable Workflows

Payment solution technology cannot deliver results unless it is seamlessly integrated into existing hospital systems. Key functions from registration and bill estimation to payment planning and billing should be custom designed to create unified workflows for staff and streamlined experiences for patients.  

Essential Component #3: Staff Training

Talking about financial obligations can be the most confusing, frustrating, and stressful part of healthcare, for patients as well as registration staff. Scripting and guidance on how to tailor conversations to individual circumstances can increase patient satisfaction and trust, improve staff’s job satisfaction and productivity, and reduce staff turnover.

Essential Component #4: Ongoing Analytics

Cash flow will continue to be a challenge for hospitals long after the current COVID-19 crisis is past. Patient payment strategies should provide reporting and dashboards that allow leaders to monitor and manage staff and collection opportunities by shift, registrar, and other custom parameters. Disposition reports should show productivity and performance to ensure high-performance teams and optimum results over the long term.     

Positive Outcomes

Personalized patient payment strategies have been proven to increase collections by guiding patients through the financial maze and offering realistic ways to meet financial obligations. In the current landscape of record low margins for hospitals and extraordinary financial hardship for patients, these solutions provide a path toward increased revenue, higher up-front collections, lower bad debt, and improved patient satisfaction and peace of mind.  


About David Shelton

David Shelton serves as Chief Executive Officer for PatientMatters. He has served in senior healthcare management for more than 15 years, with experience in operations, technology development, and manufacturing. His expertise includes delivering business growth, streamlining operational management, and generating profitability for PatientMatters and its healthcare clients.


Walgreens to Invest $1B in VillageMD to Open 500 to 700 Full-Service Doctor Offices

Walgreens to Invest $1B in VillageMD to Open 500 to 700 Full-Service Doctor Offices

– Walgreens will invest $1 billion in
equity and convertible debt in VillageMD to open 500 physician-led primary care
clinics in more than 30 U.S. markets in the next five years.

– VillageMD and Walgreens also recently announced the
availability of Village Medical telehealth providers on Walgreens Find Care™,
which is an online platform that connects patients with a wide range of health
services.


Walgreens
Boots Alliance, Inc
. and VillageMD
announced today that Walgreens will be the first national pharmacy chain to
offer full-service doctor offices co-located at its stores at a large scale,
following a highly successful trial begun last year. This expanded partnership
will open 500 to 700 “Village Medical at Walgreens” physician-led primary care
clinics in more than 30 U.S. markets in the next five years, with the intent to
build hundreds more thereafter.

Here are five things to know about the landmark deal:

1. The clinics will accept a wide range of health insurance options and offer comprehensive primary care across a broad range of physician services. Additionally, 24/7 care will be available via telehealth and at-home visits. More than 50 percent will be located in Health Professional Shortage Areas and Medically Underserved Areas/Populations, as designated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

2. This rollout follows a trial with five in-store clinics in the Houston, Texas area, which produced very strong results after opening last November including high patient satisfaction, with Net Promoter Scores over 90.

3. Most of the full-service clinics will be approximately 3,330 square feet each, with some as large as 9,000 square feet. They will optimize existing space in the store, which will also still provide a vast range of retail products to customers.

4. Under the terms of the new agreement, WBA will invest $1B in equity and convertible debt in VillageMD over the next three years, including a $250M equity investment to be completed today.

5. Of WBA’s investment, 80 percent will be used by VillageMD to fund the opening of the clinics and build the partnership, including integration with Walgreens digital assets. WBA will hold an approximately 30 percent ownership interest in VillageMD at the completion of the investment.

 “In the U.S., we spend $4 trillion per year on healthcare, over 85 percent of that is tied to patients with chronic diseases. To improve our healthcare system and reverse the trajectory of health spending, we must meet the needs of all patients. This partnership allows us to unleash the power of primary care doctors and pharmacists, enabling them to work in a coordinated way to enhance the patient experience,” said Tim Barry, chairman and CEO, VillageMD. “The results of our initial pilot clinics highlight that these outcomes are infinitely achievable.”

4 Ways to Make Patient Collections More Compassionate

Medical expenses are often a source of anxiety for many patients, whether they are unsure about the amount owed or how they’ll ultimately pay for it. Unfortunately, intimidating collections processes don’t help, and a crisis like COVID-19 only exacerbates this stress. A more compassionate billing approach could help patients better navigate their financial obligations and also build long-term loyalty—a necessity for providers today looking to retain patient volume during a time of crisis.

Consumers overwhelmingly want to understand the cost of healthcare services, prior to services being performed. Effectiveprice transparency involves offering patients clear, accessible, and easy-to-understand estimates of their financial responsibility for services before they are performed.

Give patients clarity from the start with precise pricing estimates and up-front info about what they’ll have to pay can reduce sticker shock, help them plan and create an overall better patient financial experience.

By empowering your patients with financial expectations, their feeling of control increases, improving their engagement and the likelihood that you will collect payments faster and more efficiently.

Just as you don’t provide identical medical treatment to every patient, processing all patient accounts the same way doesn’t make sense. Every patient is different.

Using comprehensive data and advanced analytics, providers can better understand an individual’s propensity to pay and make the payment process a positive one by assessing and assigning each patient to the appropriate financial pathway based on their unique financial situation.

Medical bills are often the most direct contact providers have with patients after a service is rendered. Unfortunately, money is often a sensitive topic for patients and statements are often overwhelming and difficult for patients to read.

Tailoring communications at each stage can convey compassion and increase patient satisfaction. Customizing patient statements gives providers the ability to simplify and customize bills quickly and easily, turning an often confusing process into one that adds value. Including relevant, personalized messages and educational updates can turn billing statements into a useful resource, all with the potential to drive revenue.

In addition to offering personalized payment options, providers can also find out whether a patient prefers to discuss billing by phone or email.

Minimizing friction at the point of payment is crucial to fostering compassionate collections.

Providers should offer flexible options that include in-person, telephone, mobile and online patient portals, so they can pay in a way that’s most convenient for them. This also frees up staff to help those patients who may need a little extra help understanding their statement.

Want to learn more? Check out Experian Health’s Collections
Optimization Manager
which helps providers segment patients based on an
individual’s propensity to pay and payment preferences, informing a
compassionate patient engagement strategy and improving collections.

The post 4 Ways to Make Patient Collections More Compassionate appeared first on Healthcare Blog.