Technology grows amid pandemic<p>​<br>While long term and post-acute care (LT/PAC) providers have reconfigured their approach to technology to help meet the new demands of COVID-19, vendor partners have stepped up to the challenge. <br></p><p>Some have accelerated the time frame for new products while others have branched out into new geographic areas, and all have helped customers look at current trends with a hopeful eye toward the future. <br></p><p>One of those partners was PointClickCare, a leading cloud-based software platform for the senior care market that helps manage workflow, remotely track patient compliance, check progress for practitioners, and improve the quality of patient care.<br></p><p><img src="/Monthly-Issue/2020/July/PublishingImages/DaveWessinger.jpg" alt="Dave Wessinger" class="ms-rtePosition-1" style="margin&#58;5px;" />After taking time to connect with customers to understand their challenges with COVID, it became clear that digitizing health records had become more important for providers to understand what was going on. “Many customers realized that without using the technology, they were not able to safely manage resident or patient care or leverage telemedicine effectively,” says Dave Wessinger, cofounder and president of PointClickCare. <br></p><p>Noting the toll the virus was taking on day-to-day life, Wessinger and his team realized their customers would be depending on technology more to alleviate some of the burden. So they decided to speed up the rollout of PointClickCare’s new Infection Prevention and Control solution (IPC) by about six months. The IPC is a clinical workflow and intelligence solution for LT/PAC providers to identify, manage, and report infections in real time.<br></p><p>“During the development of this new product, we leaned on our customer advisory board to make sure we heard their concerns and tailored our technology to address their immediate needs,” says Wessinger.<br></p><p>Marquis Companies, a PointClickCare customer based in Brick, N.J., supports Mid-Atlantic and New England facilities totaling nearly 4,500 skilled nursing and assisted living beds, as well as more than 2,000 independent living units. The company’s surveillance logs used to be done by infection preventionists only, but with IPC, their nurses are now also able to manage those cases. <br></p><h3>Contact Tracing Comes Into Focus</h3><p>Leaders at Nxtgen Care, which offers customers a business intelligence and analytics platform to optimize care and resident engagement, have seen usage of their products increase since the start of COVID-19. This includes their M-Factor tool, an app that gives staff and family members real-time access to a resident’s daily activities. <br></p><p><img src="/Monthly-Issue/2020/July/PublishingImages/DavidBurke.jpg" alt="David Burke" class="ms-rtePosition-2" style="margin&#58;5px;" />“More family members are on the app more frequently and for longer periods of time to ‘check in’ on their loved one,” says David Burke, founder and chief executive officer. “We have received testimonials from family members near and far from their loved ones sharing their appreciation for the peace of mind our solution provides.”<br></p><p>Staff have also shared they have gotten greater piece of mind knowing the app provides real-time contact tracing and physical distancing measures, says Burke. Based on the input of Nxtgen Care customers, these are two needed features going forward.<br></p><p>“There is general consensus that pandemic plans moving forward must have effective contact tracing, physical distance monitoring, and isolation strategies,” says Burke. “Effective means there is a real-time monitoring or clinical surveillance functionality verifying these measures are happening as planned and, if not, providing intelligence to all stakeholders about what needs to change or be improved.” <br></p><p>In addition to ensuring clinical surveillance of contact tracing and isolation, the Nxtgen Care platform also alerts users to residents at risk for the negative effects of loneliness and isolation. <br></p><p>This has always been a priority for care providers, but even more during the COVID-19 pandemic. “There is a growing body of research indicating loneliness is a greater health epidemic than obesity,” says Burke. <br></p><p>The platform is designed to help users ensure contact tracing and isolation while, at the same time, alerting care providers to those at risk for loneliness. “This allows our communities to ensure effective pandemic measures while creating meaningful social engagement plans to mitigate loneliness and isolation,” says Burke.<br></p><h3>Looking Ahead </h3><p>TapestryHealth, a multispecialty primary care practice that uses telemedicine to enable models of care in LT/PAC facilities, has expanded its reach since the start of COVID-19. Whereas the company provided services in primarily rural locations, it has quickly expanded into urban locations, based on customer demand. <br></p><p><span><img src="/Monthly-Issue/2020/July/PublishingImages/MordyEisenberg.jpg" class="ms-rtePosition-1" alt="Mordy Eisenberg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /></span>“There are a lot of facilities in the urban areas where they were never able to afford telemedicine, but now that it’s reimbursed, we are able to change some of the pricing models for those facilities, and that’s been more attractive,” says Mordy Eisenberg, chief operating officer at TapestryHealth. <br></p><p>The company provides portable telemedicine carts that include a monitor allowing residents, staff, and physicians to see and speak with each other in real time. It also includes a digitally enhanced stethoscope, an otoscope, and a high-definition portable camera to examine the skin. TapestryHealth provides primary care as well as emergency care 24/7 and has a rapid response capability. <br></p><p>Eisenberg says the idea of more providers using telehealth services long-term opens up a whole new world. “There have been so many regulations around telemedicine, and now they have waived them for the duration of this emergency,” says Eisenberg. “I don’t know how you get the toothpaste back in the tube. These waivers are out there, and people realize the efficacy of the program.” <br></p><p>At the same time, customers wonder what will happen if things go back to how they were pre-COVID, with the federal government removing the waivers. “From a business perspective, it always makes planning hard when you just don’t know what the rules are going to be in six months,” says Eisenberg.<br></p><p>“Telemedicine is just a delivery method,” says Eisenberg. “It’s what’s on the other end of that; that’s what you have to really look at—who’s on the other side.” <br></p><p>In other words, just as caregivers inside a facility who are consistently assigned to care for certain patients are more likely to provide better care than those who are not, practitioners on the other end of a video call who are familiar with patients already are able to provide better care better than a practitioner who is not. ​</p>2020-07-01T04:00:00Z<img alt="" src="/Monthly-Issue/2020/July/PublishingImages/0720_CS.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />Technology;COVID-19Amy MendozaWhile long term and post-acute care (LT/PAC) providers have reconfigured their approach to technology to help meet the new demands of COVID-19, vendor partners have stepped up to the challenge.
Residents and Staff Get Front Row Seats to Broadway Show<div>​</div> <div> </div> <div>COVID-19 has changed most aspects of daily life. Everything from eating out to going to the movies has a new normal—don’t do it. For residents of long term and post-acute care centers, the challenge is especially hard. Not only must they stay inside the building, but they often must stay in their rooms or apartments to protect themselves.</div> <div> </div> <div><br></div> <div><img src="/Monthly-Issue/2020/May/PublishingImages/Broadway_still.jpg" class="ms-rtePosition-1" alt="" style="margin&#58;5px 15px;width&#58;235px;height&#58;197px;" />Staff share a unique challenge of keeping up with the constant wave of changes from the government in managing the disease, while building hope and keeping anxieties in check to care for the most vulnerable.&#160; </div> <div><br></div> <div>Robert Van Dyk, president and chief executive officer of Van Dyk Health Care, wanted to offer the residents and staff at Van Dyk Park Place, an assisted living community in Hawthorne, N.J., home care services clients of At Home With Van Dyk in Ridgewood, N.J., and clients of the Van Dyk Memory Care Center in Hawthorne (adult day care) something special as they dealt with the present-day challenge. So he tapped his chief operating officer to put together a special event designed for residents and staff alike. </div> <div>&#160;</div> <div>The result was “When Broadway Goes Dark Van Dyk Goes Live, virtual edition,” a one-hour concert featuring songs performed by a cast of Broadway stars, including Catherine Brunell, Natalie Cortez, Nick Spangler, and James Moye. “If our families are not allowed to visit Broadway, then we’re bringing Broadway to them,” says Van Dyk.&#160; “We’re all feeling the effects of social isolation. We need music in our lives, especially now. We’re hoping that this virtual show is a creative and fun way to remind our staff and our families how much we care for them.”</div> <h2 class="ms-rteElement-H2"> How They Did It</h2> <div>The show was the third Broadway concert hosted by Van Dyk Health Care. The first two were live, in-person concerts performed on stage for Van Dyk residents and families. The first concert was performed at Park Place, and staff arranged for a sound system and stage inside the facility.&#160;</div> <div><br></div> <div>“The response was so great that the second year, we rented the performing arts center in Englewood, New Jersey,” says Van Dyk. “And now we have COVID so we’re not able to do this one live, but Natalie and Nick and James and Catherine cannot wait to come back and perform for the residents and staff.” </div> <div><br></div> <div><img src="/Monthly-Issue/2020/May/PublishingImages/JamesMoye.jpg" alt="James Moye" class="ms-rtePosition-1" style="margin&#58;5px 15px;" />When planning the first event, Michael Wissot, chief operating officer at Van Dyk, reached out to Moye, his friend, and explained what they wanted to do.</div> <div><br></div> <div>“His eyes immediately lit up, and we started painting from a blank canvas,” says Wissot. “We were trying to imagine what’s the right format, the right number of performers, and the right songs. And that’s where the fun began because we were able to put together a program that allowed people to connect, especially to the theme of Alzheimer’s awareness.”</div> <div><br></div> <div>The first two concerts were designed for the residents. So staff asked the residents which songs they’d like to hear and came up with a list that was shared with the performers, along with a list of Van Dyk employees and the different departments. </div> <div><br></div> <div>“Songs like, ‘It All Fades Away,’ ‘You Will Be Found,’ and ‘Memory,’ they really strike a chord for the residents but also the family members,” says Wissot.&#160; The concerts hold special meaning for the performers, too—Moye, Brunell, Cortez, and Spangler all have family members who have been affected with Alzheimer’s disease in some way. </div> <h2 class="ms-rteElement-H2">New Challenges</h2> <div>From the idea to production, it took about three weeks to put the virtual event together. “It would have taken shorter under normal circumstances because we had to remind ourselves we had to focus on continuing to anticipate and adapt to the precautionary measures that we needed to put in place in order to keep residents safe,” says Wissot.</div> <div><br></div> <div><img src="/Monthly-Issue/2020/May/PublishingImages/CatherineBrunell.jpg" alt="Catherine Brunell" class="ms-rtePosition-2" style="margin&#58;5px;" />This meant putting work on the virtual event to the side to deal with other COVID-19 priorities as they arose. “I was not readily available during the traditional hours, and thankfully the performers were very flexible and adapted to my schedule,” he says.&#160;</div> <div><br></div> <div>Keeping the event virtual also meant figuring out the Zoom platform and ensuring that all performers were able to produce it from their own homes individually. In each case the team adjusted for sound and quality to achieve an ideal balance.</div> <div><br></div> <div>“Of course that’s difficult because each performer had their own set-up at home. None of them, of course, anticipated that they would need sophisticated equipment, but everyone worked together and communicated the whole way through, and we came up with something really unique,” says Wissot. </div> <h2 class="ms-rteElement-H2">Watching Together, Individually</h2> <div>Using a technology platform available via television in residents’ rooms and around the centers, residents watched the performance from inside their rooms. The platform is typically used to post announcements, schedules, and menus, and it was a first for the Van Dyk team to share the concerts with the platform.&#160;</div> <div><br></div> <div><img src="/Monthly-Issue/2020/May/PublishingImages/NatalieCortez.jpg" alt="Natalie Cortez" class="ms-rtePosition-1" style="margin&#58;5px 15px;" />The concert was made available on social media so that families and staff could also watch. “It is really important to make sure that everybody feels included in these kinds of experiences,” says Wissot. “One of the great things about going to a show is the conversations you have afterwards about what you thought about it. We wanted to let everyone know that we were at this concert together.”</div> <div><br></div> <div>In the same way they had reacted to the first two concerts, residents and staff enjoyed the performances immensely, says Van Dyk. “The reactions are always amazing, when the performers come to the community, the residents want to get up and dance,” he says. “And there is such a bond between the performers because they all have grandmothers, grandfathers, aunts, or uncles with dementia. The residents love it, families love it, and [the singers] love to see what we do for their parents.” Van Dyk says he’s received many thank you letters from families.</div> <div><br></div> <div>As the first two concerts were designed for residents, performers read out dedications to residents. For the virtual concert, the performers dedicated songs to different staff teams.</div> <h2 class="ms-rteElement-H2">Focus on Staff</h2> <div>COVID-19 has brought challenges and worries to almost everyone, says Van Dyk. “The residents struggle at one level, but they are being cared for every day,” he says.</div> <div><br></div> <div><img src="/Monthly-Issue/2020/May/PublishingImages/NickSpangler.jpg" alt="Nick Spangler" class="ms-rtePosition-2" style="margin&#58;5px 10px;" />“But what we are going through now is really hard on the staff. Every day they come in and they have personal worries, they worry about their children back at home, they worry about their spouse who in most cases is unemployed at home. They worry about bringing COVID home to their family; we in turn worry are they going to bring COVID in. So we are doing whatever we can to help staff recognize how important they are. Long after COVID becomes part of our history, our staff will be remembered as the heroes of this pandemic.”&#160;</div> <div><br></div> <div>As Van Dyk pens his Easter note to families, the topic is about sacrifices. “And staff are making sacrifices,” he says. His advice is to do everything and anything possible for staff, as small as it may seem. “I’ve been sending bushels of oranges up to my communities,” he says. “One, because they are delicious, and two because they help build up your immune system. And we just sent about 400 chocolate Easter bunnies up to the staff. It says, ‘Thank you, we’re thinking about you, you’re not alone.’” </div> <div>&#160;</div> <div>To watch the virtual concert, visit&#58; <a href="http&#58;//bit.ly/3bSreSI" target="_blank">http&#58;//bit.ly/3bSreSI</a>. </div> ​2020-05-01T04:00:00Z<img alt="" src="/Monthly-Issue/2020/May/PublishingImages/Broadway_t.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />Caregiving;Quality;TechnologyAmy MendozaStaff share a unique challenge of keeping up with the constant wave of changes from the government in managing the disease, while building hope and keeping anxieties in check to care for the most vulnerable.
Software Adoption in Skilled Nursing<div>​</div> <div> </div> <div>The demand for quality care in skilled nursing is on the rise, competition within the industry is up, and the acuity levels of residents continue to increase. Because of this, long term care organizations demand tools with robust clinical and care continuum management features that help address the needs of residents in a way that is financially and operationally beneficial.&#160;</div> <div><br></div> <div> </div> <div>The care skilled nursing offers isn’t one-size-fits-all. A skilled nursing software solution shouldn’t be either. Here are tips to guide the process of choosing an electronic health record (EHR) solution for a skilled nursing center.</div> <h2 class="ms-rteElement-H2">Getting Ready</h2> <div>The first step toward a new software solution is to take the time to evaluate current software by eliciting honest feedback from staff. Is the team comfortable with the technology? Does the solution help meet the organization’s goals? Is support available when needed?&#160;</div> <div><br></div> <div>If the answer to any of these questions is no, it’s time to consider switching to a more appropriate solution that can better meet changing business practices and evolving regulatory requirements or help prevent lost revenue.</div> <div><br></div> <div>Provide ample time to make a decision—generally at least six months before the desired implementation date. This will give the vendors on the center’s short list plenty of time to compose their request for proposal responses and to build a demo team for the organization’s needs. Deciding that an on-site demo is needed is another reason to plan for additional lead time.</div> <div><br></div> <div>After completing all the demos, allow plenty of time to review them, one at a time, with the team. It’s important to work together, sharing insights and observations, before making a final decision. After a decision is made there are additional implementation tasks to consider, including testing and staff training.</div> <h2 class="ms-rteElement-H2">Choosing the Implementation Team</h2> <div>Every role on the implementation team is important to help ensure a successful outcome—from trainers and decision makers to communicators and, of course, the team at large. Here are some things to consider when assembling the team.</div> <div><br></div> <div>The project lead is critical to the success of software adoption and the implementation process. Look for someone with the skill to efficiently and masterfully lead the project from start to finish, even if that means shuffling responsibilities to free up time in the designated person’s schedule.</div> <div><br></div> <div>The coach is responsible for implementation and training. The coach serves as a liaison between operators of the current processes and the new software. Choose someone who is not only familiar with the new software, but also comfortable working with and coaching new users for success. <br></div> <div><br></div> <div>A chosen maintainer will help keep new software up to date after implementation. Select someone who can be counted on to stay on top of new releases, maintain user accounts, and educate staff on upcoming software changes. The person chosen for this role will also need to assist with letting people know how periodic system configuration will help in meeting the center’s evolving operational needs.</div> <div><br></div> <div>A liaison should be assigned to communicate changes. As with most projects, communication is key. In this situation, there is no such thing as over-communication. Assign someone to develop a plan to inform all stakeholders, including residents and their family members, about what is taking place and when.</div> <h2 class="ms-rteElement-H2">Creating Teams</h2> <div>Some functions in the process will be done in groups. A selection committee should include people who represent the unique aspects of the organization and who understand how the software being considered will affect their work. Include a full set of individuals who represent all the key stakeholders who will be using the new software solution.</div> <div><br></div> <div>The final decision maker isn’t just a role, but a process, and may be a group or a specific individual, depending on the center’s preferences. Consider the organization’s corporate culture when choosing the person or people for this role.</div> <div><br></div> <div>Finally, don’t forget to consider the temperature of the team at large. How readily do they accept and adapt to change? How tech-savvy are they? Is this their first foray into skilled nursing software, or are they already accustomed to using technology to manage resident care and business operations?</div> <div><br></div> <div>If there seem to be challenges or resistance, consider seeking help with additional training or change management coaching to help ease the transition.</div> <h2 class="ms-rteElement-H2">Preparing for Implementation</h2> <div>It’s important to remember that hundreds of skilled nursing centers have been through this process before and have come out on the other side ready to maintain census goals and offer quality care to residents. </div> <div>Here’s what to consider while entering the implementation phase of the new EHR system&#58;</div> <ul><li>Set up the project lead for success. The selection of the right project lead is critical. Now is the time to make sure that the designated person is allowed ample time to devote to this project. Be sure that the project lead is empowered to make decisions and to work confidently with the vendor. </li> <li>Identify super users. Super users will play an important role in the adoption of the new software. Choose people that can be counted on to learn the new system and transfer their expertise to others. People who have strong communication and teaching skills are ideal super users. </li> <li>Determine the roll-out approach. Work with the vendor to choose an approach that will work best for the organization. Typically, there are two options&#58; the gradual roll-out where new features are added over time, and the “big-bang” roll-out in which everything is accessible from the beginning. </li> <li>Plan for a pilot skilled nursing center or all centers. If the organization consists of multiple centers, it will need to decide whether to launch the new software as a pilot program at a single location or go live at all centers simultaneously. </li> <li>Query configuration possibilities. To some extent, new software can be configured based on a facility’s unique goals and established workflows. Work closely with the vendor to determine how best to configure the new software, such as identifying options in drop-down menus that match the labels and names used in the facility. </li></ul> <h2 class="ms-rteElement-H2">Implementation Best Practices</h2> <div>When preparing to implement a new EHR, providers can expect some key steps along the way. </div> <div>The vendor will assign a project manager (PM) to be the provider’s main point of contact. This person will be a guide through the implementation process and will make sure the system is up and running by the due date, keep the project on budget, and be a resource for facility staff.&#160;</div> <div><br></div> <div>The basic steps to expect include&#58;</div> <div>1. Initiation. The first step is a discovery call with the assigned PM and all stakeholders. During this call, the PM will go over the basic implementation plan and features of the new EHR software.</div> <div><br></div> <div>2. Planning. The PM will conduct a process review and create an implementation plan. When the plan is final, the PM will review it with facility staff to make sure the needs of the community are included.</div> <div><br></div> <div>3. Configuration. This is when the development of the specific system begins. The setup is designed and configured based on the feedback that was received during the initiation and planning stages.</div> <div><br></div> <div>4. Deployment. After participating in training sessions where staff enter live data, the EHR software will be ready to use. Any additional training needs will also be determined during this step.</div> <div><br></div> <div>5. Optimization. Now that the facility is up and running on the EHR, there should be a post-implementation assessment to make sure the system is being used efficiently. <br></div> <div><br></div> <div>6. Transition. In the final step, the PM will pass the account over to the center’s individual account manager and support team. The PM will continue to work with the support team to address any additional needs staff may have.</div> <div><br></div> <div>Choosing and implementing new EHR software is a major undertaking. But early planning, choosing the right people for lead roles on the selection and implementation teams, and seeking support from the vendor can make the process run smoothly and boost the center’s financial and operational performance. </div> <div>&#160;</div> <div><em>Kelly Keefe is vice president, community solutions strategy, at MatrixCare. She can be reached at kelly.keefe@matrixcare.com.</em></div>2019-10-01T04:00:00Z<img alt="" src="/Monthly-Issue/2019/October/PublishingImages/tect_t.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />TechnologyKelly KeefeThe care skilled nursing offers isn’t one-size-fits-all. A skilled nursing software solution shouldn’t be either. Here are tips to guide the process of choosing an electronic health record (EHR) solution for a skilled nursing center.
Beyond Interoperability to True Connected Health<div>​</div> <div> <img src="/Monthly-Issue/2019/June/PublishingImages/SNF_enterpise-02.gif" class="ms-rtePosition-2" alt="" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;331px;height&#58;330px;" /><br><br>Industry pundits and health care technology vendors have long promoted the value of interoperability in reducing risks and improving outcomes. This has led to the rise of health care integration technologies and data standards that promise to pave the way to interoperability utopia.</div> <div>&#160;</div> <div>However, as technology has evolved, labor shortages among long term and post-acute care (LT/PAC) workers have increased, and more and more seniors are looking for opportunities to age in place rather than move to a facility.</div> <div> </div> <div><br></div> <div> </div> <div>To meet these demands, LT/PAC providers must develop a holistic view of health care interoperability that focuses on connecting systems, people, and insights to improve outcomes for their patients and their business.</div> <div> </div> <div><br></div> <div> </div> <div>Key questions to consider are&#58;</div> <div> </div> <ul><li>What trends are driving the need to think differently about health care interoperability?</li> <li>What forms of interoperability will be required in the future?</li> <li>How can providers be best positioned to adopt a holistic approach to interoperability in health care?</li></ul> <h2 class="ms-rteElement-H2"> Too Few Caregivers</h2> <div>Projections by the Department of Health and Human Services show that the population of approximately 48 million seniors in the United States today will increase to 55 million by 2020, and to 70 million by 2030. At the same time, the shortage of registered nurses is expected to increase to over 800,000 by 2020.</div> <div><br></div> <div>As a practical matter, new employees entering the workforce lack the years of experience of those leaving it. This creates an experience gap that technology must bridge to allow LT/PAC providers to better leverage their labor forces. These labor challenges have become the No. 1 concern of senior care businesses.</div> <h2 class="ms-rteElement-H2">Seniors Age In Place</h2> <div>Everyone knows that the goal of long term care is not to cure an illness, but to allow an individual to attain and maintain an optimal level of functioning. Eighty-seven percent of adults age 65 and older indicate they want to stay in their current home and community as they age, according to an AARP Public Policy Institute survey. Yet, a 2017 report by the Rand Corp. showed that some 60 percent of adults suffer from at least one chronic health condition, and at least 42 percent had more than one condition.</div> <div><br></div> <div>Therefore, with increasing numbers of seniors choosing to age in place, providers are now thinking differently about their interoperability strategy to stay connected with these individuals and the people who care for them.</div> <h2 class="ms-rteElement-H2">Diversifying Services</h2> <div>To manage risk and address market demands for senior care, LT/PAC providers are becoming increasingly diversified. These providers are adding assisted living, home health, memory care, adult day care, private duty home care, and other lines of businesses. </div> <div><br></div> <div>A recent study by MatrixCare found that 41 percent of skilled nursing facility (SNF) providers also provide assisted and independent living. And significant numbers of these providers have added home health and hospice services. </div> <div><br></div> <div>These diversified providers are looking to seamlessly connect to better facilitate care transitions across their spectrum of services—with a single view of the resident, “warm” hand-offs between lines of business, and end-to-end analytics. These operators realize that people are aging in the community, not necessarily within the SNF, and they recognize the importance of keeping people within their brand. </div> <div><br></div> <div>Additionally, Medicare Advantage bonuses from the Centers for Medicare &amp; Medicaid Services have doubled to over $6 billion since 2015, and enrollment in these plans has been increasing at a steady rate. </div> <div><br></div> <div>These trends lead to narrowing referral networks as hospitals look to partner with LT/PAC providers who deliver high clinical quality coupled with world-class efficiency. This can drive an increasing tradeoff of lower reimbursement for higher volume while still attempting to maintain clinical quality. </div> <h2 class="ms-rteElement-H2">Care Transitions Risky</h2> <div>A February release by MarketWatch, based on Orbis Research’s recent study of the U.S. PAC market, says that nearly 40 percent of beneficiaries who are covered under Medicare have been discharged from an acute care hospital to post-acute care settings such as SNFs or to their homes with oversight from a home health provider.</div> <div><img src="/Monthly-Issue/2019/June/PublishingImages/SNF_enterpise-03.gif" class="ms-rtePosition-2 ms-rteImage-1" alt="" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;475px;height&#58;389px;" /><br>Additionally, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) suggests that up to 90 percent of patients experience at least one medication discrepancy in the transition from hospital to home. And, patients with hospital-to-home medication discrepancies are almost twice as likely to be readmitted to the hospital within 30 days as patients with no medication discrepancies, according to AHRQ. </div> <div><br></div> <div>Transitions to home often require additional care services and follow-up. Simple things such as ensuring the senior fills his prescriptions, has food in the refrigerator, receives required home medical equipment devices, and has someone around who can help him can have a tremendous impact on driving positive outcomes.</div> <div><br></div> <p class="ms-rteElement-P">What does this mean for providers?</p> <div>Health care interoperability must evolve from simply exchanging documents between systems to include connecting workflows across systems, connecting people, and providing end-to-end insights.</div> <h2 class="ms-rteElement-H2">Connecting Systems</h2> <div>A variety of methods and standards exist today to connect electronic health record (EHR) systems. Every EHR has its own data schema and way of processing information. However, standard Application Program Interfaces (API) coupled with data standards such as the Consolidated Clinical Document Architecture (CCDA) and Fast Healthcare Interoperability Standards (FHIR) level the playing field and promote a plug-and-play environment between vendors. </div> <div><br></div> <div>However, simply connecting these systems is not enough. Once these systems are communicating, it is important to consider how the information being exchanged is used in the system to improve usability and workflow efficiency and reduce the risk of error due to manual re-keying of data. </div> <h2 class="ms-rteElement-H2">Connecting People</h2> <div>Connecting systems with data exchange and facilitating seamless workflows is a good start, but ultimately, it’s up to people—specifically the patient and her caregivers—to ensure optimal outcomes. </div> <div><br></div> <div>Many studies have shown that outcomes improve when the individual is engaged in her own health care, with strong support from her family or other social connections. Person-centric technology facilitates this by placing the senior at the center of the health care experience surrounded by her extended care team of physicians, pharmacists, care managers, and family.</div> <div><br></div> <div>Moreover, the ability to leverage connected devices helps keep the team focused on the senior’s progress, even once she is back at home. By ensuring these warm hand-offs between virtual caregivers, LT/PAC providers can reduce the risk of errors in care transitions. </div> <h2 class="ms-rteElement-H2">Driving End-to-End Insights</h2> <div>Robust analytics provide the descriptive and diagnostic insights that help diversified providers understand financial and clinical performance across their networks. Additionally, emerging capabilities around predictive and prescriptive analytics can enable them to forecast and optimize their operations—effectively allowing them to “see around the corner” to help reduce risk and ward off potential problems before they emerge. </div> <div><br></div> <div>Whether the individual is in a SNF, assisted living, or at home receiving services, technology can provide the means to monitor compliance with treatment goals and care plans, and alert caregivers to potential changes in condition. </div> <div><br></div> <div>Intake management and screening tools help providers identify the right services necessary to care for new admissions, where to place them within a diversified network, and understand what the costs versus reimbursement will be. </div> <div><br></div> <div>Referral-source pattern analytics help providers better market their services to acute-care partners and ensure they are getting their share as referral networks narrow. </div> <h2 class="ms-rteElement-H2">Toward Connected Health</h2> <div>It’s difficult to go to a health care technology conference these days and not see half or more of the content focused on patient engagement, chronic disease management, and analytics. </div> <div><br></div> <div><img src="/Monthly-Issue/2019/June/PublishingImages/Tech1.jpg" class="ms-rtePosition-1 ms-rteImage-1" alt="" style="margin&#58;5px 10px;width&#58;269px;height&#58;317px;" />Many of these solutions are early in what Gartner research and information technology company refers to as the Hype Cycle for health care technology, indicating there is still a fair amount of maturation needed within the various sub-segments these solutions are targeting.</div> <div><br></div> <div>As providers evaluate solutions like this to improve connectivity between systems and people, and to drive additional insights into their business, it will be important to do three things&#58;</div> <div>1. Understand current technology capabilities. Often the success of connected health strategies is heavily dependent on deep connectivity to the underlying electronic health record. Consider what the EHR vendor offers and who they partner with as part of the center’s short list.</div> <div>2. Analyze current capabilities in skills and expertise. Implementing connected health technologies may require staff to acquire new skills. Patient engagement platforms may necessitate the need for skilled marketing resources. Advanced analytics may require data science skills to leverage the power that machine learning or artificial intelligence technologies can provide.</div> <div>3. Continue to push for more automated data flows from the organization’s partners. Identify and work to eliminate processes that are manual or require paper.</div> <div><br></div> <div>And one last item, be prepared to experiment. In the areas of patient engagement and connecting people, it is important to follow the principle of “think big, start small, and fail fast.” Start with narrow use cases and expand from these based on lessons learned, and don’t try to “boil the ocean.” </div> <div>&#160;</div> <div><em>Lee Kilmer is senior vice president of product development and commercialization for MatrixCare. For questions about MatrixCare’s industry-leading approach to interoperability, contact&#58; lee.kilmer@matrixcare.com. </em></div>2019-06-01T04:00:00Z<img alt="" src="/Monthly-Issue/2019/June/PublishingImages/tech_t.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />TechnologyLee KilmerAs technology has evolved, labor shortages among long term and post-acute care (LT/PAC) workers have increased, and more and more seniors are looking for opportunities to age in place rather than move to a facility.