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Every Patient Has a Story

I have just returned from my first Beryl Institute Patient Experience Conference 2016 (PX2016), and I’m inspired. At Wellpepper, we are focused on empowering the patient to feel ownership and accountability to participate in their healthcare journey. The Beryl Institute and their members are doing the same and it was great to connect with so many like-minded people. The PX2016 conference is just one way they bring together this community.

PX2016 is 6 years young and attended by mostly caregivers, nurses, doctors, regular people who were touched by a personal health experience and now are in the field, and patients. With only 1000 attendees, it’s possible to form relationships. There was lots of hugging, sharing, pictures and overall excitement to be in Dallas. I met several newbies and like me, they were inspired too.

The conference opened up with a real life patient story. Les, a heart attack survivor, told his story of how he was participating in a sculling exercise and went into cardiac arrest in the middle of the water. The following chain of events happened that allowed him to be standing in front of us to tell his story. A retired nurse was on board and jumped into action to do CPR (she was filling in for her friend who couldn’t make it), the bowman had his cell phone to call 911 (typically he doesn’t bring it on the boat), another rower in his own boat happened to be near the dock gate and had a key to unlock the gate (usually locked because it was 5:30AM) which allowed the paramedics to get to Les. If there was one break in that chain, Les would not be with us. He went on to share his experience about his care at UCLA Medical Center and how every touch point from the people on the boat, to paramedics, to the care team made a difference in his recovery. By this time, there was not a dry eye in the place. It was all about why we in this profession of healthcare really do want to make a difference in the patient experience.

This lead to the theme that every patient has a story. From the other keynotes to the sessions I attended, this theme was pervasive. The focus of PX 2016 is to share stories, best practices and ideas on how to bring together interactions, culture and perceptions across the continuum of care.

In the session, Removing Complexity from the Post-Acute Care Patient (one of our passions at Wellpepper), it became clear that the long term care model needs to be reinvented for simplicity. True simplicity comes from matching the patient’s experience with the patient’s expectations. As an example, The New Jewish Home is renaming its post-acute rehabilitation to The Rapid Recovering Center which supports setting a different tone for the patient and ultimately in their experience. When a patient is sent to a post-acute rehabilitation center it can suggest a long and difficult recovery. But, naming it the Rapid Recovery Center aligns with the patient’s expectation of wanting to get better as soon as possible.

Another session that hit close to Wellpepper’s core values was how University of Chicago puts family and patients first in their patient experience strategy. Enhancing Patient Experience and Engagement through Technology Innovation by Sue Murphy, RN, Executive Director- Patient Experience and Engagement Program and Dr. Alison Tothy, Associate CMO – Patient Experience and Engagement Program at University of Chicago suggest the ability to capture real-time opportunities for engaging patients in their care and in their service expectations with innovative technology and techniques can lead to overall happier patients. Such technologies like rounding, discharge call centers and interactive patient care have led to substantial outcome improvements. However, just implementing technology did not solve the patient experience challenge. A culture shift in the staff was required which inspired them focus on individualized care for each patient. Combining a culture shift with innovative technology has allowed the University of Chicago to increase patient satisfaction scores, reduce readmission rates and improve outcomes. Furthermore, leadership is engaged and excited about the power of technology to improve the patient experience.

To bring it to a close, we were inspired by another personal patient story from Kelly Corrigan. She is a New York Times best-selling author who shares her most personal stories, including her health challenges. She has had more than her share of health encounters between herself and her family. She read an excerpt from her book, The Middle Place, where her and her Dad where both diagnosed with cancer in the same year. It was a compassionate and funny rendition of when she just starting her chemotherapy sessions and her Dad came across country for support. She talked about how in the middle of crisis, magnificent can happen. She was amazed to witness how all the people around her, including herself, able to conform into the new reality – cancer. Although a happy ending for her, not so much for her father. He passed away last year. She emphasized how at the end of her father’s journey, she made a point to thank all the caregivers for they really did make a difference in a very difficult time. Then looking out at all of us in the audience at that moment, almost with a tone of authority, she challenged us to hold on to the feelings of why we went into healthcare.

For some of us, it was a personal experience. For others, it was the opportunity to make a difference. Regardless, as Kelly so eloquently put it, people want to feel as if they have been felt and be a good listener because every patient has a story.

Posted in: Behavior Change, chronic disease, Healthcare transformation, Managing Chronic Disease, patient engagement, Patient Satisfaction

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Wellpepper to attend The Beryl Institute Patient Experience Conference in Dallas!

I will be traveling to the great state of Texas for my first Beryl Institute Patient Experience Conference next week. The Beryl Institute is a global community of practice dedicated to improving the patient experience through collaboration and shared knowledge. They define patient experience as the sum of all interactions, shaped by an organization’s culture, that influence patient perceptions across the continuum of care.

As a first time attendee, I am thrilled to be part of this community that is inspired to improve the patient experience. It will be a great 3 days of networking, education and sharing of ideas on how we, as a healthcare community, can make a difference in patient care.This shift to patient centered care has been coming for quite some time. Now that value-base reimbursement is starting to take shape, this conference could not be timelier. Since I will be an attendee and not an exhibitor (yea!), I will be able to get in the trenches with leaders of patient experience, quality and transformation from major health systems from across the country.

There are so many sessions that touch upon all aspects of patient experience and engagement, it’s a bit overwhelming. But, here are the sessions that peaked my interest.  Hope to see you there!

April 13, 2016
Opening Keynote: Dr. Ronan Tynan – Recording artist, physician and champion disabled athlete

Breakout Sessions I
Patent is Not a Consumer – Here’s Why
Leveraging Physician Engagement in Patient Experience Improvement Efforts
Evolving to a Patient-Centered Team-Based Culture – Engaging the Healthcare Team

April 14, 2016
Keynote Day: Cynthia Mercer – Senior Vice President & Chief Administrative Officer – Mercy Health

Breakout Sessions II
Removing Complexity from the Post-Acute Patient Experience
The Role of the Built Environment in Improving Patient Experiences and Outcomes

Lunch & Learn
“I’m There to Efficiently Help People”: How Our Busiest Clinicians Balance Productivity and Patient Experience
The Role of the Built Environment in Improving Patient Experiences and Outcomes 

April 15, 2016
Keynote: Montel Williams – Talk Show Host and MS Awareness Champion

Breakout Sessions III
Digital Engagement of Discharged ED Patients is a Must
The Impact of Cultural Diversity on Patient Experience

Breakout Sessions IV
Enhancing Patient Experience and Engagement Through Technological Innovation
The Patient Financial Experience: A Link to Satisfaction, Payment and More.
Closing Keynote: Kelly Corrigan – Author, Philanthropist and Breast Cancer Survivor

Conference program full packet can be found here

If you will be at the conference too, please contact Robin to schedule a meeting.

Posted in: Adherence, Healthcare transformation, patient engagement, Patient Satisfaction, Telemedicine

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Did HIMSS deliver on its Charter? Transforming Health through IT

HIMSS Annual Conference
February 29-March 4, 2016

Another HIMSS has come and gone for me. I will not brag about how many times I have attended this conference, but I will brag about it being the first time with Wellpepper. Overall, the level of activity exceeded our expectations and validated the need for innovative patient engagement technologies like ours.

Being with a new company gave me a whole new perspective on the HIMSS annual event. Reflecting back, years of HIMSS events can blur together and it can seem like the same old same old. This year was different: the healthcare ecosystem is going through a profound change and the providers and payers know this. Health systems are beginning to understand that the model is moving away from a passive engagement with the patient, to a model where the patient is taking more initiative to include their own wants/needs to participate in their care delivery.

With that, comes a whole new set of demands from the patient consumer and that I believe is where HIMSS is trying to make the transformation.  For the second year, HIMSS has partnered with HX360’s Innovation Pavilion to showcase pioneering health IT solutions that are addressing these challenges. As a start-up company, we can often get lost in the maze of vendors at a large conference such as HIMSS (estimates suggest more than 1200 exhibitors). The HX360 Innovation Pavilion provides an opportunity for entrepreneurial health IT companies to shine… and that we did.

Along with this venue, HX360 sponsors an Executive Program that runs concurrent with HIMSS. These educational sessions attract leaders such as Chief Innovation Officers, Nursing Informatics Officers and Vice Presidents of Digital Health who are looking for innovative solutions from companies like Wellpepper. Because of this venue and opportunity, we were able to have meaningful conversations with IT and executives that are looking to get a head of the curve and provide innovative solutions for their patients and systems.

Upon my travels home, I felt optimistic this shift to value-based healthcare will really drive innovation and allow companies like Wellpepper to part of the conversation and solution. The future appears to be bright and full of opportunity.  It is an exciting time for both the healthcare community and the consumer.

So, did HIMSS hit their mark? In part, yes. HIMSS is making great strides to keep up with the changing landscape of healthcare. No longer is it just about the EMR, servers, networks and storage in the IT back room. It’s about patient facing solutions that provide ownership and accountability for the patient while securing that brand loyalty for the provider.

The transformation of healthcare is now. Healthcare does not take to change lightly. But, companies like Wellpepper will continue to pave the way to innovation and the industry will take notice.

Posted in: Healthcare Technology, Healthcare transformation, M-health, patient engagement, Telemedicine

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Does Healthcare Need a “Call to Minga”?

ihi-logoIn the most recent months, I have experienced a lot of “firsts” since I have joined Wellpepper. Although still in healthcare, I have ventured into the patient engagement space which has opened up a whole to new world. This technology is evolving in the marketplace with the charter of quality, value and engagement, specifically around the patient. This is one of the reasons why I joined Wellpepper…..we are about improving the patient experience.

Attending the Institute for Healthcare Improvement National Forum in Orlando (IHI) last week was another “first”. This conference was focused around how we change and improve healthcare for the patient. There was a real sense of community at this conference among the attendees. Everyone was focused on the patient and how to better serve and improve outcomes.

Unlike other conferences I have attended, I was able to participate in several sessions. Even though we exhibited at this forum, attending the sessions provided me with a different perspective on what healthcare professionals are really concerned about and how they are looking to learn from others on how to “fix” it. Again, another “first”.

The atmosphere at the conference was very upbeat and optimistic but there is a transition happening at the helm of IHI. Maureen Bisognano, President and CEO for the last 12 years, she will be retiring after 27 years at IHI. She gave the opening keynote which was very inspirational and echoed the commitment of IHI to improve the quality in healthcare for the better of the patient. Her theme was all about collaboration among the healthcare teams to give care with the patient and not just to the patient. Quality should be everyone’s job and that is why they developed the Breakthrough Collaborative at IHI. This brings together patients, families and health systems to improve the care.

We need to understand what matters to the patient and not what we think matters. In the session, “Thriving in a Value-Based Environment”, Anna Roth, CEO of Contra Costa Health Services, emphasized what matters to patient might not be their health problem but their ability to buy food, pay rent, and job security. So value for that patient goes beyond addressing their health issue but rather access to other life sustaining needs. Furthermore, when you engage with your patients be prepared to act. Lisa Schilling from Kaiser added during this session – “find the problems that really matters and then find an elegant solution”.  This can lead to innovation both from a technology perspective and re-design of care plans for that patient community. As an example, physicians are now prescribing community parks as part of their treatment plans to help address obesity and get their patients moving.

This theme echoed with the other keynote speakers such as Earvin “Magic” Johnson. He was on course with his message of bringing together a sense of community to improve healthcare access and services in the urban cities. He stressed people can make a difference if we just listen to what matters to the community. He has engaged with many charities to address the food deserts that plague our urban cities.  Providing better options to fruits and vegetables will result in healthier communities.

However, the keynote from Craig Kielburger really hit home for me. Craig is the co-founder of Free the Children, an international charity; Me to We, an innovative social enterprise; We Day, a signature youth empowerment event. His journey to where he is today started when he was 12 years old. He was touched by a tragic event with a young Pakistani boy by where he felt compelled to make a difference in children’s lives. Today, he is building schools and empowering our young to make a difference.

So what has this got to do with a “Call to Minga” and healthcare? Craig experienced a “Call to Minga” for the first time more than a decade ago when he and his brother Marc (co-founder of Free the Children) went to Ecuador to build a school with volunteers. Given unforeseen obstacles such as transportation for building materials was difficult and the time to transport was longer than anticipated, his team was falling short of completing the school….in fact, they didn’t even get a chance to start it.  They were two days from traveling back to North American when he and his brother had to explain to the Chief of the village that they would not be able to complete their task. At that moment, the Chief went outside her hut and called “Minga”. The next day, people from surrounding villages ascended upon this village and began to work on building the school and completed it. The “Minga” was a call to action. It is a community coming together to work for the benefit of all.

This is what was happening at IHI, a call to action. We must come together as a healthcare community and work to improve healthcare for patients and overall, our country. Our community consist of caregivers, educators, innovators and the patient. With all the resources available to us, we can have a “Minga” moment. Here at Wellpepper, our “Minga” moment is now. Health systems are hearing the call to action to engage their patient in a fashion that supports their live style along with the technology they use every day.  Our technology allows patients to personalize their care plans that will drive ownership and improve outcomes because we are able to provide them with what matters. This is a “first” for the patient!

Since this is probably my last blog post of 2015, I invite you to consider your call to Minga at your organization for 2016. There is so much we can do together!

Posted in: Health Regulations, Healthcare Disruption, Healthcare motivation, Healthcare Policy, Meaningful Use, Outcomes, Patient Satisfaction

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The Tide of Change is Coming…….

I have been in healthcare my entire career and have seen lots of change in some form or fashion for this industry. But, as many will attest to, BIG change is fast approaching when it comes to reimbursement. That was very evident at a recent conference I attended – The American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons – AAHKS. Change in reimbursement was the common theme and the ones shouting it from the roof tops were the industry expects, the surgeons in the trenches, and us – the vendors. Although many are getting ready for this tidal wave, there are still the ones, very few, that are digging their heels in hoping to ride out the wave. I think they’ll likely crash head first.

In January 2016, bundled payments will be here for total joints via the Comprehensive Care for Total Joints mandates from CMS.  The sessions I attended at AAHKS made it loud and clear: surgeons need to be prepared for this change. What they need to be prepared for could be anywhere from working collaboratively with their hospitals partners to really understanding the data for process improvement, results and patient engagement. All of these efforts are needed to drive value for their practices, partners and ultimately the patient. No longer are the days where practices, departments or hospitals can stand alone in this journey.

Dr. Thomas Vail from UCSF suggested in order to attract patients that still have a choice, physician practices and health systems must work together to drive value and make that the centerpiece to improve outcomes. Furthermore, instilling competition among the care teams will instinctively drive better behavior and thus, have shown to improve patient satisfaction stats in those departments.

Every department at UCSF will be effected by change in reimbursement. They use the data to drive a strategy of quality, safety, efficiency and financial performance to help mitigate the risk fact that goes along with this change in reimbursement. The data will show trends to drive change verses just looking at individual metrics. Their focus is on the goals that focus on the measurements.

During a panel discussion on Patient Reported Outcomes – This is Your Reality, it was all about engaging the patient. Dr. Kevin J. Bozic from Dell Medical School at UT Austin, PROs are the “holy grail” for measuring quality. Physicians should understand patient outcomes are based on the patient’s expectations and the cost it takes to get to that outcome.

Orthopedic society groups such as AAHKS, AAOS and AJRR are taking it upon themselves to bring the PROs up to today’s reality by working together to modify the surveys to make them more patient friendly – thus getting the patient more engaged. (These recommendations are awaiting CMS approval.) Also, there is a big push to ensure there is a “risk adjustment” factor taken into consideration in order to make it a level playing field given the diversity of total joint surgery and the different levels of complexity. However, regardless of any update or approval by CMS, the panel agreed that obtaining RPOs will be the cost of doing business. Last, which I believe supports the need for patient engagement technologies, Dr. Bozic closed with……“It (PRO) will be a nice to have to a need to have”.

The Tide of Change provides a tremendous opportunity to all of us who look to make a difference in the way technology can improve the delivery of healthcare but most importantly, provide the patient with a better experience.

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Accountable Care and HealthIT Strategies Summit 2015: Still early days

Patients and providers both need to be empowered to deliver on the promises of the Affordable Care Act. That was the major theme and takeaway of the recent “Accountable Care and Health IT Strategies Summit” that I attended a few weeks ago in Chicago. I would add to this sentiment that IT needs help to implement technologies that empower these end-users. While not underestimating the importance of making sure technology is secure, and scalable, with too much focus on the back-end, IT can miss an opportunity to help deliver real value and change by putting tools in the hands of end-users.

Since value-based payments require health systems to be able to impact patient behavior outside their four walls, technology (and therefore IT departments) have the ability to play a greater role in helping to monitor and manage patients, and scale healthcare providers. Access to real-time data can also help identify issues and impact patient behavior before small problems turn into big ones.

While some of the stories and sessions at the conference were promising, I came away with the impression that we are still in really early days, and the leaders in this care transformation are willing to take leaps without having all the data. Considering that even with data, it still takes 17 years from innovation to transfer from research to clinical best practice, it seems that some amount of faith is required for this healthcare transformation.

In no particular order, here are a few of my notes from the 2-day conference.

Theme: Population Health 2.0: Accountable Care, Big Data and Healthcare Analytics

Population Health seems the furthest along in this transformation both in the way care is delivered and how technology supports care. Participants on this panel from Partners, Geisinger, and Hackensack University Medical Center, along with population health vendor Wellcentive debated the differences between Population Health 1.0 and 2.0. They even tried to see the future with Population Health 3.0.

Population Health 1.0 was seen as identifying risk and gaps in care, and attempting to plug those gaps. Although many organizations are still in this stage, some haven’t even gotten there yet. The panel saw themselves moving to a more evolved state of Population Health where data is used to drive better care, while responsibility for population health moves to the individual primary care physician rather than being managed in aggregate by remote care teams. However, this type of shift requires engagement by both the patients and the physicians which is still a work-in –progress.

The representative from Geisinger stressed for an effective implementation of population health, a multi-disciplinary team needs to be assembled that includes both clinical and IT. Wellcentive agreed and added that analytics need to be in the hands of end-users so they can make informed decisions.

The panel was also asked to speculate on Population Health 3.0: historical data, data driven decisions, and patient empowerment through data from sensors and surveys were all seen as key.

Honestly, my biggest takeaway from this session is that while some organizations may be claiming it’s time for Population Health 2.0, many haven’t gotten to 1.0, and no one seems to be in agreement on the definitions of each stage. Given today we already have the ability to collect survey and sensor data in the context of care, it seems like we are already have the tools for Population Health 3.0. But, we haven’t implemented the technology to address Pop Health 1.0 & 2.0 to achieve value…..so how can we even look to addressing the road to 3.0?

Theme: EMRs and Enabling Technology for ACOs

Another major theme that arose across many sessions at the conference is the limitations of current technology to support the infrastructure of new models of care. While organizations are looking for the EMR to be the Holy Grail, it’s a challenge as most EMRs are built to support older models of care, specifically around billing and reimbursement. Renown Health’s Accountable Care Organization, in Northern Nevada, will look to EPIC to solve some of their technology care needs, but realizes the need for M-health and other care coordination technologies to move up the stack, and exist separately from the EMR will be required.

Many of the participants are either trying to collect and track ACO data in the EMR or build their own systems to engage patients that fed data back into the EMR. Others acknowledged that new systems to directly engage patients need to be built on new technology stacks, although surprisingly one panelist on the Connected Care – How Trends in mHealth, Wearables and Connected Medical Home are Shaping Healthcare keynote boasted about 20-30% engagement rates with paper surveys. Yes, paper.

Theme: Engaging Patients and Providers

For ACOs and the ACA in general to be effective, the consensus at the conference was the need to enable both patients and providers. Adding individual providers into the mix seems to be a bit of a shift in thinking, and one that we’re supportive of at Wellpepper. We know that a key driver of patient adherence is the relationship between patients and providers. With our system, a good provider can influence patients to be over 85% adherent to their treatment plans. Some key ideas at the conference were providers may still need to be convinced of the need to influence patients directly, and that showing them data is the way to do that. However, the method of communication to that patient needs to connect in a way that is of their everyday life routine.

Overall, the conference presented some early wins in the shift to ACOs and value-based payments, but showed that we still have a long way to go and a lot of opportunity to improve care based on data. That said, this was the first conference I’ve been to where IT was front-and-center at the table and able to drive change if they wanted to. We have an opportunity to leapfrog old ways of doing things and implement new systems that have focus on the patient and provider, and are based on data to drive better outcomes. I for one am excited about this new opportunity and how it will change the way we deliver care in the future.

Posted in: Behavior Change, Health Regulations, Healthcare Disruption, Healthcare motivation, Healthcare Technology, Outcomes

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