Healthcare transformation

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Is Connected Health Entering The Mainstream?

I’m just back from Parks Associates 3rd Annual Connected Health Summit. The summit, which began with a focus on consumer health and devices, is broadening to include the consumer experience in all digital health. Most attendees were from technology, payer, and device industries rather than healthcare organizations, and I was struck that a lot of the discussion of about the data from devices, predictive analytics, and natural language processing was beyond what we’re seeing in implementation in healthcare industries today.

Evolution of Digital Health

Evolution of Digital Health

Possibly because Parks Associates focuses on consumer data, and also that the conference has been consumer-device focused in the past, attendees and presenters included telecommunications companies, and even home security companies. This was my first time at the conference but from the data presented by Parks it seems as though digital health, and consumer focused health has become accepted as inevitable and mainstream. A few examples include ADT, the home security company talking about in-home sensing to enable seniors to stay in their homes longer, and Wal-mart talking about meeting healthcare consumers where they are. All of this is a far cry from traditional healthcare delivery. There was also a belief that digital health and the digital health consumer touches everyone from seniors, to the example that for many homeless people their most prized possession is their mobile phone.

Top takeaways:

  • There is no silver bullet for mobile health, digital health, or sensors.
    • Personalization is going to be key as the drivers for engaging in health are different for each person
  • There is no digital health consumer. Segmentation is very challenging in this market. Parks Associates Research identified 4 consumer groups, and 14 segments within those groups.

Digital Health Segments

  • Technology is currently out-pacing implementation possibly due to a slower transition to value-based care than the speed of consumer technology adoption.
  • People are sometimes consumers and sometimes patients, and this is not mutually exclusive.

From Fee For Service To Value-Based Payments

I had the pleasure of participating on a panel on moving to value-based care with Dr. Alexander Grunsfeld, Chief of Neurology from our customer Sentara Healthcare, and Angie Kalousek  from Blue Cross/Blue Shield of California. Too often value gets lumped into the idea of bundles versus fee for service, instead of considering the triple aim of healthcare and delivering the best patient experience and outcomes cost effectively. Fee for service remains the stumbling block to value-based care and organizations have to straddle two worlds when considering implementing two programs. Those who can effectively cross the chasm from fee-for-service to value-based care will be the ones who succeed in the long run, and especially those who consider options before they are legislated to do so.

Crossing the chasm from fee for service to value-based payments

Crossing the chasm from fee for service to value-based payments

Our headache management project with Sentara started from the need of one neurologist to manage his caseload. He had too many patients and not enough data, and needed a way to identify patients that needed the most help and also to enable patients to self-manage their headaches. Interestingly, though although the problem that he was trying to solve was focused on access, in a fee-for-service world, initial appointments are compensated at a higher rate that follow on appointments, so decreasing the need for follow on appointments could actually increase revenue. In an exact opposite scenario, this project has caught the attention of those in Sentara’s health plan, Optima, and they are looking to use this patient self-management to decrease ER costs by enabling patients to better self-manage.

Audience poll on in-home care

Audience poll on in-home care

Posted in: Adherence, Behavior Change, Healthcare Policy, Healthcare Research, Healthcare Technology, Healthcare transformation, M-health, Managing Chronic Disease, patient engagement

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Cardiac rehab is effective, but patient-centered care needs to actually be patient-centered

With CMS’s new Cardiac Bundle, cardiac care (especially post-acute care), is the next service line to go under the microscope. As with total joint, variations in outcomes and costs are often seen in post-acute care so looking at how that care is delivered is key. For any bundle to be successful, engaging patients and ensuring their participation in follow up is a driver of success.

I have to admit, I haven’t read the bundle specs yet, just the news on the bundle. According to Becker’s Hospital Review’s “10 things to know about CMS’ new mandatory cardiac bundle”, the bundle includes provisions to test cardiac rehabilitation services, with 36 sessions available over 36 weeks. However, according to this article from NPR, although cardiac rehabilitation is proven to be effective, most people don’t participate. If you read through the comments on the NPR article (ignoring the trolls of course), you’ll start to see the reasons: cardiac rehabilitation care is built around the needs of the people providing the rehabilitation, not the patients.

From our experiences delivering post-acute care plans, as well as talking to payers and providers we’ve learned a few reasons why patients don’t follow up with their outpatient care:

  • Distance: In cardiac cases, patients are taken to the closest hospital, but this may not be the closest to their home or work. In other post-acute scenarios, they may have gone to a center of excellence that is also at distance.
  • Time commitment: These programs often require multiple days of treatment a week. Not everyone has the flexibility to take off work.
  • Timing: Programs are usually offered during 9 to 5, to accommodate the needs of the providers. Patients might prefer evening or weekend programs. We talked to one provider that focuses on lower income patients. People in hourly wage jobs don’t get to choose when they take breaks and their breaks are usually 15 minutes, and maybe 30 minutes for lunch. It’s next to impossible for them to attend in-person sessions.
Francis Ying/Kaiser Health News

Francis Ying/Kaiser Health News

The NPR article keyed in on these within the one example of Kathryn Shiflett (a healthcare worker herself!) whose distance and work hours (4:30 AM – 3:00 PM) pose a significant barrier: “She lives an hour away and is about to start a new job. Cardiac rehab classes happen Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, with sessions at 8 a.m., 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.”

While the bundles are definitely driving the right behavior in focusing on patient outcomes rather than procedures, they need to go further to promote patient-centered care. In this case, that should be testing new models like mobile health or community-based rehab programs that are adaptable to the unique needs of different patient groups.

Posted in: Adherence, Healthcare Disruption, Healthcare Legislation, Healthcare motivation, Healthcare transformation, Occupational Therapy, patient engagement, Patient Satisfaction, Rehabilitation Business, Uncategorized

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Patients As Designers Of Their Own Health

Seattle’s grassroots healthcare community continues to gain traction with a new meetup for patient-centered design. Last week’s meeting was generously sponsored by MCG a subsidiary of Hearst Publications who are quite active in the healthcare world with content and education. The panel discussion featured Dana Lewis, a patient-maker who is active in the open source movement for diabetes care and built her own artificial pancreas, Christina Berry-White from the digital health group at Seattle Children’s, and Amy London, Innovation Specialist at Virginia Mason. The group talked about how to effectively get feedback from patients, and how patient hackers like Dana can take poor design into their own hands build tools they need, and ultimately influence large healthcare companies, in this case device manufacturers.

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Dana, Christina, and Amy, photo credit Alina Serebryany

The panel had great advice for understanding and developing products and improving processes for patients, as well as for soliciting feedback from patients. Here are a few of my takeaways.

Tips for developing products and process

  • Understand patient’s goals and desires. Often the goals of the hospital or health system are not the same as the patient’s. After meeting with a group of patient advocates one Virginia Mason surgeon realized that the only outcome that really mattered was whether the patient had a positive experience.
  • Let patients customize their views and experiences. Amy talked about a particular chart where she wanted to see the graph rising to show increasing blood sugar and another user she talked to wanted to see the graph lowering to show insulin lowering and a need for intervention. Amy was confused by this view but created her open source artificial pancreas interface to enables people to choose their own view, and the result was that people who had diabetes looked at it the same way Amy did and parent-caregivers of diabetic children wanted the second view. Which brings us to the next point–
  • Differentiate between users. Patients often have different requirements than their caregivers, whether that’s parents caring for a child or teen, or adult children caring for a parent. As well, the clinical workflow shouldn’t dictate the patient experience.
  • Get feedback early. Amy mentioned meeting with a device manufacturer who showed her an almost ready for release glucometer that was intended to fit in the pocket. She quipped “you obviously didn’t test this with women’s pockets.”

Tips for collecting feedback

  • Build it into the product. Christina from Children’s mentioned that when they switched from reams of paper to an iPad-based tool for patient on-boarding forms the physicians wanted to stop using it because it did not immediately integrate with the EMR. Luckily the tool had a feature to survey users on whether they preferred using it to paper, and the answer from parents was overwhelmingly yes. The digital health team showed these results to the physicians, and the tool stayed in place.
  • Be creative when soliciting feedback. Children’s knew from experience that parents and patients were reluctant to give them negative feedback after a lifesaving experience like an organ transplant, so they used techniques that are often used in brand market research: analogies. For example, they asked teens to describe a digital tool as a car, and found out that their tool was like a pick-up truck to them: useful but utilitarian.
  • Use patients to collect feedback. Patients are also often intimidated to provide direct feedback to healthcare professionals as they see them as authority figures. At Virginia Mason patients who have already had a successful joint replacement visit post-surgical patients to find out how they are doing, and talk about their own experiences. Patients are a lot more candid with each other, and Virginia Mason was able to benefit from understanding the questions they asked the peer ambassadors and incorporate that information into formal programs.
  • Ask the questions at the right time. If you want to understand post-operative experiences ask within a few weeks of the actual experience, not 6 months later.
  • Be aware of selection bias. Patients who volunteer for focus groups are often those who have the time and money to be able to do so. Your feedback may be skewed towards retired patients, and those who are not hourly workers. Consider how you will cast a wide net.

Lots of great advice at this event, much of which we already incorporate into our processes and products at Wellpepper, although I definitely got some new ideas and it’s great to see the community coming together to share best practices. My only disappointment with the event was that with a title of Patients as Designers, I expected to see more patients on the panel. While there was a last minute cancellation of a patient-maker, it would have been amazing to have Children’s and Virginia Mason bring one of their patient-designers to be on the panel. Maybe next time?

Posted in: Healthcare Disruption, Healthcare Research, Healthcare Technology, Healthcare transformation, Lean Healthcare, Research, Seattle

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Intelligent Disruption in Healthcare

Two recent webinars tracking recent trends and outlooks on the future of digital health presented interesting perspectives on how the healthcare industry is evolving, but also trigger some concerns about such advancement. The first webinar, Digital Health Tech Vision 2016, hosted by Accenture Consulting, featured Kaveh Safavi, M.D, J.D. (Senior Global Managing Director of Accenture Health) and Jane Sarasohn-Kahn (Health Economist, Industry Advisor and blogger at Health Populi) addressing their prediction of the top five digital health trends in the coming year:

  • Intelligent Automation – the merger of humans and artificial intelligence in a health setting (citing an intriguing example of a company integrating AI into a therapy setting).
  • Liquid Workforce – technology enabling the application of healthcare across geographies.
  • Platform Economy – an economy based on multiple technologies to platform architectures that allow them to work together.
  • Digital Trust – the importance of ensuring patient information isn’t shared improperly by those who have legal access to it.
  • Predictable Disruption – industry leaders agree that the nature of healthcare services will change faster in the next ten years than the last thirty

The second webinar was the MobiHealth News Digital Health 2016 Midyear Review, featuring Brian Dolan (Editor-in-Chief of MobiHealthNews) and Ryan Beckland (CEO and Co-Founder of Validic), who spoke about the past year in digital health, including key acquisitions, policy news, and the importance of patient generated health data in the future.

Both webinars addressed the fact that there is significant consumer demand for digital health innovation. Patients want a more seamless and efficient experience that gives them a better “life-health balance” and does so inexpensively. From the physician point of view, MobiHealthNews pointed out that doctors have about seven minutes on average to spend in person with a patient, most of which is spent doing data entry on a computer, so physicians are looking for solutions that enable them to be more “present during care” and not miss out on any important clinical information. As for healthcare systems, the Accenture webinar touched on the “Predictable Disruption” trend, noting a recent poll showing 86% of healthcare executives feeling pressured to “disrupt” their business model or face disruption from the outside (e.g. companies like Wal-Mart, Apple, Google, and financial service firms are entering the healthcare space).

This high demand for digital health solutions is certainly good news for any companies operating in the space, especially in light of regulations pushing the industry more towards value based care. But is it good news for patients?

With such multipronged pressure facing hospital systems, a concern might be that in trying to keep up with the industry, they too quickly install digital health solutions that aren’t adequately designed for interoperability with other technologies and EMRs and in doing so, could make the patient experience worse. The American Medical Association CEO recently commented on the influx of “ineffective” and “mixed quality” digital health products, going as far as comparing them to modern-day snake oil, and Dr. Sachin Jain, the CEO of CareMore, said that most remote monitoring solutions are not currently working because they aren’t adequately integrated into a system of care, and are just “bolted on” to a current system.

In such a fragmented market, it will be important for healthcare systems to take the time to make decisions based on how well these solutions can integrate with the current systems and EMRs (which aren’t patient-facing, but need to integrate with these new technologies for a seamless patient experience), work with other digital products within the system (achieving the platform economy mentioned by Accenture), and enhance the patient and physician experience and interaction. Perhaps then the industry can claim a new trend: intelligent disruption.

Posted in: Healthcare Disruption, Healthcare Technology, Healthcare transformation, Interoperability, Patient Satisfaction

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MACRA: A Rule Worth Learning

Introduction to MACRA

Those of us who that work closely with clinicians or simply work in healthcare have no doubt heard of the total revamping of Medicare (Part B) clinician payments from a fee-for-service to a value-based system; this sort of change hasn’t occurred in over a generation. If that isn’t incredible enough for you, how about the fact that this 892 page document was passed by Congress with a bi-partisan ‘supermajority’; that alone speaks volumes on the importance of this change. The culprit of my angst and information overload is called the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) that will go into effect 1/1/17. This rule is so complicated with so many layers, it does not even have a Wikipedia page (nobody as been so bold); so keeping that in mind this blog post is my attempt to sum up my own understanding of this proposed rule.

Courtesy of CMS.gov

Two pathways to payment. MACRA is built upon two value based pathways that eligible clinicians (physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, and certified registered nurse anesthetists) must chose from: Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) or the Advanced Alternative Payment Model (Advanced APM). Which path a clinician takes depends on their patient threshold and if they are new to the Medicare. It also depends if the clinician is part of an Accountable Care Organization that is established as an APM entity. The advantage of one over the other is a 5 percent annual payment increase from CMS over 6 years if a physician decides to be grouped with their ACO APM entity. The risk is if clinicians do not meet metrics chosen and set by their ACO they will not be rewarded with their shared savings. The good news is Physicians can elect to switch between the two payment models from on year to another. This flexibility is the foundation to the MACRA proposed rule. Additional choices given to eligible clinicians are: they can report on measures that are important to them and decide if they want to report as an individual or in a group.

Courtesy of HIMMS MACRA information Webinar

Fundamental basics to the MIPS. The MIPS replaces the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS), Value-Based Modifier (VBM) and Meaningful Use (MU) programs with the categories: Quality, Resource Use, Clinical Practice Improvement Activities and Advancing Care Information. Quality metrics are mainly derived from PQRS, Advancing Care Information is a simplified version of MU, and Resource Use is similar to VBM. The biggest change, as far as I can tell, is clinicians can choose six quality reporting measures that are important to them. Each year HHS will publish a list of quality measures to be used in the forthcoming MIPS performance period (which is 365 days) for clinicians to choose from. Out of these measures, one must be an outcome measure of high priority measure, one must be cross-cutting (hit on several quality measures), and clinicians can choose to report a specialty measure set. Clinicians composed quality score is measured against clinicians similar to themselves; this is another significant change. If you recall previously the sustainable growth rate (SGR) “set an arbitrary aggregate spending target” not based upon individual performance or clinician peers.

Introduction to Advance APM. There is a reason why I explained in more detail the MIPS path- because I understand it better; as with many things in my life I relate it to food. MIPS takes the wholesome ingredients from MU, PQRS and VBM programs and makes it a much better appeasing entrée. Whereas the Advanced APM program doesn’t focuses so much on the recipe but on the consumer. From what I understand so far, you have to be an eligible clinician determined by CMS, and work in an organization that participates already as an APM through an agreement with CMS. Also, so far, CMS has only identified six APMs that qualify as Advanced APMs. These include Comprehensive End Stage Renal Disease care, Comprehensive Primary Care Plus, Medicare Shared Savings Program (Track 2 and 3), Next Generation ACO Model, and Oncology Care Model. The three criterion’s in order to become an Advance APM clinicians are: 50% of physicians must use Certified EHR technology; payments are based on quality measures; financial risk and nominal amount standards. I hope to dive deeper into Advanced APMs in a later blog post. For now please check out the HIMSS information deck here.

MACRA professional I am not… is anyone? Whereas I love to always learn, MACRA was difficult for me to grasp, HOWEVER I spent about 2 years in Graduate school studying Meaningful Use, so that says a lot. I am sad to say that a lot of what I learned about MU no longer applicable, but good riddance! The beginning of this year the Acting Administrator of CMS said “The Meaningful Use program as it has existed, will now be effectively over and replaced with something better.” I hope we you are right Mr. Slavitt.

Posted in: Healthcare Legislation, Healthcare Policy, Healthcare transformation, Outcomes

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Different System, Same Challenges: Long-Term Care Perspective From Canada

Kristin Helps, our Director of Client Operations, and I had the opportunity to speak about delivering Empathetic Care for Seniors Through Technology at the annual BC Caregiver’s Association Conference in Whistler, BC. The BCCPA is the representative body for long-term care, skilled nursing, homecare and retirement facilities in the province of British Columbia in Canada. These types of facilities are mostly privately run, by both for-profit, and charity organizations, as opposed to acute care which is run by provincial and regional authorities. While this was a BC organization and conference, delegates came from across the country, and ranged from individual home care works, to facility owners, to university professors and researchers.

For the most part we heard similar challenges to those encountered in the health system in the US:

  • Communication between care settings
  • The struggle to deliver patient-centered care
  • Decreasing reimbursement for homecare
  • Enabling staff to operate at the top of their license

At the same time, people expressed a desire to age in place, and the health system wanted to be able to support this. While 80% of Canadians cited wanting to die at home, only 40% actually do.

One of the big differences we noted at this conference was that speakers and participants were calling on the Federal government to step in and fix many of the problems in a way that we don’t often see in the US. Another difference was that participants were looking globally for solutions to challenges, particularly in dementia care.

Looking Globally for Dementia Care

This was our first time at this conference and veterans told us that the previous year was quite focused on analytics, while this year the focus was on dementia care. While not primarily our area of expertise at Wellpepper, we heard about a number of innovative initiatives to improve care, including a novel approach by the government of Japan. Japan decided to characterize dementia as a social problem rather than a medical problem and trained bank tellers and grocery store clerks to recognize the signs of dementia. It was thought that these people were most likely to see problems, for example if someone was unable to understand how to pay bills or buy groceries. Considering that many with early onset dementia are quite successful at hiding changes from their loved ones, this idea is quite interesting. It also puts the responsibility for care back into society rather than relying on medical facilities that often distance the rest of us from the challenges of aging.

Basketball courts at Aegis Living Seattle

Basketball courts at Aegis Living Seattle

The Butterfly Household Model of Care, which was initiated in the UK, but has been implemented in Alberta with some success, is another novel idea. People with dementia often don’t know what day it is or what they had for lunch, but they do have vivid internal experiences, often remembering happier times of their lives. Butterfly Households are designed to stimulate people with dementia with bright colors, and also to stimulate memories with areas designed to invoke feelings of the past, for example an ice cream shop or an area with old photographs. The idea in a Butterfly home is to meet patients where they are, and caregivers report much joy in delivering care and significantly fewer of the violent behaviors often associated with dementia.

While not a designated Butterfly Home, you can see some of these techniques in action at Aegis Living in Capitol Hill, Seattle. Here are a couple of pictures from when I visited last fall. In an outdoor area they have a car and a garden shed designed to stimulate conversation and fond memories, and an old-gym styled basketball court, where you can shoot hoops sitting down.

Invoking memories at Aegis Living Seattle

Invoking memories at Aegis Living Seattle

To find out more about the topics in this post:

Bank Tellers Act Serve as Caregivers in Aging Japan

BC Caregivers Association

Butterfly Household Model of Care

Aegis Living Capitol Hill Seattle

If you’re interested in learning more about our talk on delivering empathy through technology, contact us.

Posted in: Aging, Behavior Change, chronic disease, Healthcare Disruption, Healthcare motivation, Healthcare transformation, Managing Chronic Disease, Seattle, Uncategorized

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The Consumerization of Healthcare

While Healthcare is sometimes criticized as being behind other industries when it comes to technology, being behind this can have advantages. The first is that early adopters in other industries have worked the kinks out of new models like Saas or not-new models like single-sign-on. The second is that you can understand how technology and usage might evolve by seeing what happened in other industries, and the third is that you can skip steps in technical evolution and potentially move faster. This is what’s happening with the Consumerization of Healthcare IT, as evidenced by the proliferation of mobile and consumer-facing health technologies, topics at a few key healthcare events I’ve attended lately, and conversations I’ve had with senior healthcare leaders.

The concept of consumerization is the idea that consumer perceptions, expectations, and consumer technology can have an impact on an industry. This sometimes results in direct applications, like “it’s Uber for ambulances” or “Netflix for CPE credits” but more frequently it’s a subtle shift in thinking.

When I was working at Microsoft preparing for the launch of Office 2010, the consumerization of IT was a major theme of the release. We talked about the influence of the expectations of end-users on the tools they used every day: users were always on and always connected and they expected the same of their companies. We talked about the impact of BYOD on security and also the expectations to be able to communicate and collaborate from anywhere. The same is happening in healthcare today. Patients and physicians alike want to be able to communicate in the ways they communicate elsewhere and wonder why they can’t. They want applications that are as easy to understand and interact with as those on their phones.

One health system CIO I spoke to recently envisioned providing a “productivity stipend” and enabling all his staff to use whatever type of computer and smartphone they wanted. He would make sure they kept patient-health information secure but they would be responsible for choosing and maintaining their devices. Where BYOD was seen as a threat back in 2010, it’s now an opportunity. (I checked in with some of my former colleagues and they are seeing BYOD for phones but not computers, so this CIO is ahead of the industry pack and could even be seen as an example of skipping a step.)

When we started Wellpepper a little over three years ago, people commented on how patient-friendly and patient-focused our software was, and how it was a shame because it didn’t really matter what patients thought or what the patient experience was. (Not everyone said this, but we did hear it more than you’d hope.) Today, leaders in the industry are laser-focused on the patient/consumer experience. There are a number of reasons for that, which are both carrots and sticks.

  • Meaningful Use, while not always driving the best technology, has put an emphasis on communicating electronically with patients
  • High-deductible plans have made patients into consumers, carefully evaluating the service and value they can get for their healthcare dollars
  • New technology players like ZocDoc with online scheduling and MDLive with telemedicine delivered at Walgreens have trained people to expect on-demand services
  • New care delivery players like Iora and Zoom+ have set expectations for wellness and preventative care, and have attracted healthcare professionals who want to practice differently
  • We are all consumers. These supercomputers in our pockets and the constant connection and sharing they provide, and the ease of use of the applications that run on them have trained us to expect the same in our healthcare whether we are patients or providers.

At two recent conferences, I participated in conversations about the consumerization of healthcare service and tools. At the annual Health Evolution Partners Summit in Laguna Beach I had the opportunity to participate in a workshop where we were asked to imagine what it would be like if healthcare were run by customer-focused brands like Nordstrom, Amazon, Apple, and Uber for example.

@griotsyeye draws the consumer revolution in healthcare

@griotsyeye draws the consumer revolution in healthcare

At a local Seattle event hosted by the University of Washington Foster School of Business and sponsored by Providence Healthcare and Premera, I participated on a panel with Bill Frerichs, VP of Clinic Operations from Zoom+ and Paul Stoddart, VP of Marketing for Providence, and hosted by Curtis Kopf, VP of Customer Experience, Premera Blue Cross. We had all joined healthcare from other industries: Bill from running Target’s Store Operations and Paul from Microsoft, like me. We had all had personal experiences that had moved us into healthcare to try to change the system from within. Similar to many that choose healthcare as a career from day 1, we had become vocation-driven.

While it’s easy to come up with ideas for how healthcare can improve by looking at the customer focus from other industries as we did in these two sessions, for example, taking a concierge model like Nordstrom’s personal shopper or pattern-matching what’s important to each patient like Amazon’s “people like you also bought”, or using data to predict pregnancy like Target, it’s important to remember two things. First, if history of adoption of technology is any indicator, healthcare will evolve like other industries and will move to the cloud and more end-user and patient-friendly tools. It’s already happening. And second, that we need to remember the goals of healthcare while transferring best practices from other industries, and emulate only what’s best in healthcare settings: compassion and care, not greed and a ‘gig-based’ economy that is sometimes the focus in other industries. As well, while patients want to share data with their care teams, they want this data protected and used appropriately. Those who question the status quo, embrace change, and yet do it while remaining true to the ideals of healthcare should be the winners in this new consumerized world.

Posted in: Healthcare Disruption, Healthcare Technology, Healthcare transformation, M-health, patient engagement, Patient Satisfaction

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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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Flexible Care for Independent Aging: Don’t Dumb It Down!

I had the pleasure of participating on a panel on technology for aging, along with Honor founder Seth Sternberg and CareTicker founder Chiara Bell during the HX360 event at HIMSS 2016. (HX360 is a “conference within a conference” focused on innovation and C-suite leadership.) The panel was hosted by Jeff Makowka, Director of Market Innovation for AARP, and ranged from topics on entrepreneurship and whether there is a venture rush to technology for aging now to approaches for delivering care for aging in place.

Interestingly, all three panelists were inspired by personal experiences to found our companies. For me, it was poor discharge instructions and lack of continuity of care when my mom was released from 6 months in a long-term care facility. For Seth and Chiara, it was trying to figure out how to enable their parents to age at home. It’s a classic entrepreneurial model to experience a problem and try to find a solution to it, provided the market is big enough, and this market certainly is based only on demographics of the aging baby boomers. Seth and I both made the leap from technology, Seth from Google, and me from Microsoft, and Chiara from a long history in healthcare and homecare.

We were much sharper in real life.

We were much sharper in real life.

Honor’s $20M in funding lead by Andressen Horowitz is proof that Silicon Valley is paying attention to homecare, which can be viewed as important from two aspects: first we need innovative and new thinking to approach these challenges, and second these solutions could require a lot of money. (Although I would posit that we need patient capital in this space, something that Silicon Valley is not always known for. Interestingly, the same week as the panel Dave Chase and Andrey Ostrovsky posted a piece on why Silicon Valley does not belong in homecare. Maybe they should be on next year’s panel.)

The three panelist companies took similar approaches in using technology to scale and empower the people in the process, both patients and caregivers. For Wellpepper it’s about empowering the patient to follow their care plans and get remote support from the healthcare team. Honor and Careticker are more focused on the patient and their homecare team, whether that is professionals or family members. What was similar in the approach was providing information in real-time to the people who need it, and treating everyone in the process with respect. Honor does this by ensuring homecare workers are paid a living wage. Careticker does this by recognizing for people to age in place, the family caregivers need the right information and supports and Wellpepper does this with patient-centered and highly-usable software that is not dumbed down for the aging.

We were perhaps the outlier on this panel as our solution is not aimed specifically at the elderly. However, you could say we are the most representative of the way we need to approach the challenge: we need solutions that are designed with empathy, putting the patient first, and are not categorizing people into “young” and “old.” Well designed solutions and products should can address a broad spectrum of users, and we need to treat those aging in our population as another audience in this spectrum.

Posted in: Aging, Behavior Change, Healthcare Disruption, Healthcare motivation, Healthcare Technology, Healthcare transformation, M-health, Managing Chronic Disease, Patient Satisfaction

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Cross-Fit for Healthcare: An HX360 Workshop

At the recent HIMSS 2016 conference in Las Vegas, Robin Schroeder-Janonis, Wellpepper’s VP of Business Development,  and I were up early for cross-fit. Not the total body workout you may expect, but a workout nonetheless in the session “Innovation Cross-Fit” facilitated by Leslie Wainwright, Molly Coye, Gregory Makoul, and John Kutz. The cross-fit in this session referred to cross-organizational teams, the type required to implement innovation in healthcare and the workout took the form of a workshop where participants determined how big of a lift it would be to implement a new innovation.

Each table was comprised of a cross-section of senior healthcare leaders including CIOs, CEOs, business development, innovation leaders, IT, and marketing/communications. As a warm up, we were asked to evaluate the effort to implement a new innovation from a number of axes including user experience, implementation, stakeholders, path to scale, and opportunity. Our table was asked to evaluate the Proteus Discover Platform, a new category of ingestible medicine. We were given a high-level brief of Proteus and set loose.

In evaluating the “lift” for Proteus our group took into consideration a number of factors. First, while the population that would receive the ingestible medication would be relatively small, the legal and privacy impacts could be huge. As a result, we ranked higher complexity on user training and stakeholders, particularly with respect to medical users who would need to explain how the medication worked. Implementation costs were low as there was no IT involvement and no new hires, and only some new hardware required.

Here’s an example of the scorecard from our table:

Cross-Fit For Innovation

The next step was to map the implementation journey by adding steps in the process and stakeholders involved at each step. Our group started with the process steps and added stakeholders after the initial process was mapped out. Others fully explored each step before moving on to the next in the process. We found that there were a few stakeholders missing from the provided stack, for example although this was a medication we didn’t have a sticker for pharmacists, and that we had stakeholders participating in multiple process steps: patients and end users for example were seen at multiple stages.

In this stage the interdisciplinary teams brought their own experiences and filters to the table, which resulting in a more inclusionary process. For example, marketing representatives suggested that although the board of directors was not required to approve the implementation because the budget was so low, that they should be on an FYI list before any press releases related to using the new technologies. Operations people pointed out that procurement was left out of the process initially, and yet they’d have to sign the contracts and issue the POs.

Here’s what the process looked like from my group:

Innovation Journey Map

Finally, groups presented to each other, and this is where things got really interesting, as you can see the approach differed significantly across groups. Our group heavilty weighted the beginning of the process while another used iteration to get the same effect. Another group’s results showed that organization was the driving principle.

IMG_2559 IMG_2558

 

For me, the top takeaways from the session were:

  • Don’t be surprised how quickly a group of individuals with completely different backgrounds and experiences can coalesce to get a job done.
  • Innovation takes a cross-disciplinary team.
  • Making sure the right stakeholders are involved at each step is important, and consider that stakeholders aren’t necessarily decision makers, but they can also be people who need to be informed about the project.
  • The more time you spend in the first part of the process the easier the actual implementation
  • Conferences need more interactive sessions like this but it would also be an easy activity for a team within a health system

Posted in: Healthcare Disruption, Healthcare transformation, Lean Healthcare

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Wellpepper goes to Vegas for HIMSS16!

Screen Shot 2016-02-24 at 4.03.54 PM

 

Sunny and 70’s all week,Vegas here we come! We will try to bring some sun back with us.Vegas Weather HIMSS Blog

We will be in booth #5 @ the HX360. Let us know if you’ll be attending HIMSS16 by sending us a tweet @wellpepper.

Contact us, to set up a meeting with Anne Weiler CEO or Robin VP of Business Development 

The annual HIMSS conference is almost here! A few tips.  Wear comfortable shoes and your Fitbit, you will be walking miles. With over 43K in attendance at HIMSS15, the lines for coffee and food were long.  Bring a few snacks and get your morning coffee before you get to the conference!

So many interesting and inspiring education sessions, so little time! Between walking and navigating the crowds, it can take up to 10-15 minutes to get where you are going so take some time to plan out your education sessions. Get to the sessions early if you want a seat, many sessions end up being standing room only. 

Stop by to see Wellpepper CEO Anne Weiler on this panel which is part of the HX360 Innovation Leaders Program

Date: Monday, February 29, 2016: [Time: 2:30 PM – 3:15 PM]

Session Title: Flexible Care to Fit the Second Half of Life: from Independent Aging to Acute & Long Term Care

Session Description:  How can technology support flexible, high quality, cost-efficient care delivery that meets patients’ needs in the second half of life? Where are the most egregious gaps in care for older patients? These are the questions that will be explored by our panel, covering topics ranging from aging independently to rehabilitation, home care support, family caregiving and honoring end-of-life wishes.

Here are some of our  education session picks.

Connected Health

March 1, 2016 — 08:45AM – 09:45AM : Trends & Resources in Connected Health: Harnessing the power of mobile for research 

Clinical and Business Intelligence                                                                

March 1, 2016 — 10:00AM – 11:00AM: Actionable Analytics: From Predictive Modeling to Workflows

March 3, 2016 — 02:30PM – 03:00PM: Getting to Big Data Insights in Healthcare

Consumer and Patient Engagement

March 2, 2016 — 10:00AM – 11:00AM: Patient Engagement – The Next Chapter

March 4, 2016 — 12:00PM – 01:00PM: Patient Engagement Beyond Patient Portal-Strategic Approach

Care Coordination and Population Health

March 1, 2016 — 10:00AM – 11:00AM: Too Many Patient Portals – What Can You Do About It?

March 1, 2016 — 01:00PM – 02:00PM: Coordinated Health: The Experience You Should Expect

March 1, 2016 — 03:15PM – 03:45PM: mHealth solution for remote patient engagement

March 1, 2016 — 04:45PM – 05:15PM: Rethinking patient engagement and provider workflow

Clinical Informatics and Clinician Engagement

March 1, 2016 — 04:00PM – 05:00PM: Enhancing Patient Outcomes with Big Data: Two Case Studies

March 2, 2016 — 10:00AM – 11:00AM: Taking Plans of Care from Clinician to Patient-Centric

March 2, 2016 — 01:00PM – 02:00PM: Seven Essentials in Clinical Information Technology Adoption

 

Posted in: Healthcare Research, Healthcare Technology, Healthcare transformation, M-health, Outcomes, Patient Satisfaction, Uncategorized

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EvergreenHealth Selects Wellpepper as Mobile Patient Engagement Solution for Total Joint Replacement

SEATTLEJan. 20, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Wellpepper, Inc., a clinically validated platform for patient engagement, today announced that EvergreenHealth, an integrated health care system that serves nearly 850,000 residents in northern King and southern Snohomishcounties in Washington State, has selected Wellpepper as the mobile engagement solution for all total joint replacement and musculoskeletal care plans. The project was made possible at EvergreenHealth with a generous donation from The Schultz Family Foundation, a private not-for-profit foundation founded by Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks Corporation, and his wife Sheri.

Patients with musculoskeletal issues that require surgery or rehabilitation will use Wellpepper on their mobile devices to track their outcomes and adhere to their care plans. This information will enable patients, physicians, and other healthcare providers to track progress and patient-reported outcomes in real-time to improve care. Wellpepper enables health systems to implement their own care instructions on its task-based platform and makes it easy for patients to understand and adhere to their care instructions.

“Across our organization, we strive to be a trusted source for innovative care solutions for our patients and families, and our partnership with Wellpepper helps us deliver on that commitment,” said EvergreenHealth CEO Bob Malte. “Since we began using Wellpepper in 2014, we’ve seen how the solution enhances the interaction between patients and providers and ultimately leads to optimal recovery and the best possible outcomes for our patients.”

The Wellpepper remote care management solution is designed to be easy-to-use and highly engaging for patients while being flexible and easily customizable for use in clinical practice. It is clinically-proven to improve patient adherence and outcomes with over 70 percent patient engagement.

Health systems are increasingly looking for solutions to enhance patient care while reducing costs, and this is particularly true in total joint and musculoskeletal scenarios. The new Comprehensive Care Model for Total Joint replacement announced by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid aims to reduce the cost and quality variability of procedures.

“We are seeing a lot of interest in using the Wellpepper platform in orthopedic and total joint replacement scenarios,” said Anne Weiler, co-founder and CEO of Wellpepper. “Interest and adoption are largely being driven by our ability to customize the care plans based on the health system’s own protocols, personalize the plans for each patient and collect the standardized outcomes required as part of the new Center for Medicare and Medicaid requirements.”

The Wellpepper platform doesn’t dictate care plans; instead it provides a set of task-based building blocks that health systems and providers can customize to reflect their own methodologies and practices. The patient interface is simple and straightforward, so patients get only the tasks and questions they need on a given day.

For more information about Wellpepper or to find out how the Wellpepper patient engagement solution can support value-based payment models, please visit wellpepper.wpengine.com or email info@wellpepper.com.

About EvergreenHealth
EvergreenHealth is an integrated health care system that serves nearly 850,000 residents in King and Snohomish counties and offers a breadth of services and programs that is among the most comprehensive in the region. More than 950 physicians provide clinical excellence in over 80 specialties, including heart and vascular care, oncology, surgical care, orthopedics, neurosciences, women’s and children’s services, pulmonary care and home care and hospice services. Formed as a public hospital district in 1972, EvergreenHealth includes a 318-bed acute care medical center in Kirkland, a network of 10 primary care practices, two urgent care centers, over two dozen specialty care practices and 24/7 emergency care at its Kirkland campus, Monroe campus and at a freestanding center in Redmond. In 2015, the system expanded to include EvergreenHealth Monroe – an accredited, full-service 72-bed public hospital district, established in 1960 in Monroe, Washington. EvergreenHealth has clinical and strategic partnerships with several health care entities, including Virginia Mason, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and dozens of independent practices that are part of the clinically integrated EvergreenHealth Partners network. In addition to clinical care, EvergreenHealth offers extensive community health outreach and education programs, anchored by the 24/7 EvergreenHealth Nurse Navigator & Healthline. For more information, visit www.evergreenhealth.com.

About The Schultz Family Foundation
The Schultz Family Foundation, established in 1996 by Howard and Sheri Schultz, creates pathways of opportunity for populations facing barriers to success. The Foundation invests in innovative solutions and partnerships that unlock people’s potential, and strengthen our businesses, our communities, and our nation. For more information about the Foundation and its work: schultzfamilyfoundation.org.

About Wellpepper
Wellpepper is a healthcare technology company that provides a clinically validated platform for digital treatment plans delivered via mobile devices. The Wellpepper patient engagement solution improves patient adherence and outcomes with its patent-pending adaptive notification system and just-in-time, task-based instructions and by fostering communication between healthcare providers and patients. Wellpepper is used by major health systems that are moving to an accountable care organization model and need to track and improve patient outcomes while lowering costs. Wellpepper was founded in 2012 to help healthcare organizations lower costs, improve outcomes and improve patient satisfaction. The company is headquartered in Seattle, Washington.

Media Contact:
Jennifer Allen Newton
Bluehouse Consulting Group, Inc.
503-805-7540
jennifer (at) bluehousecg (dot) com

SOURCE Wellpepper

RELATED LINKS
http://wellpepper.wpengine.com


Posted in: Healthcare Technology, Healthcare transformation, Interoperability, M-health, Outcomes, Physical Therapy, Prehabilitation, Press Release, Rehabilitation Business

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Hot topics of 2015 from the Wellpepper Blog: It’s All About Value

As we get ready for big changes in 2016, especially in the world of value-based payments, let’s take a quick look at our most popular blog posts of 2015. Not surprisingly, they are related to changes coming with bundles and value-based payments, and the role of patient-reported outcomes and patient engagement.

In no particular order, here are our most popular blog posts from 2015.

From Wellpepper CTO, Mike Van Snellenberg.

http://wellpepper.wpengine.com/decreasing-the-patient-survey-burden-for-total-joint-pros

From Wellpepper, VP of Business Development, Robin Schroeder-Janonis

http://wellpepper.wpengine.com/does-healthcare-need-a-call-to-minga

And from Wellpepper CEO, Anne Weiler

http://wellpepper.wpengine.com/value-based-bundles-for-total-joint-the-glass-is-more-than-half-full

And from Wellpepper Business Analyst, Liz Zampino

http://wellpepper.wpengine.com/2016-the-year-of-telehealth

 

Posted in: Health Regulations, Healthcare Disruption, Healthcare Policy, Healthcare Research, Healthcare transformation, Outcomes

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2016: The Year of Telehealth

Judging by the freezing rain hitting my window pane and the darkness that comes at 430 pm, it is evident we are coming to the year’s end here in Seattle. As always the approach of a new year brings a great number of predictions and I don’t mean the kind that are derived just out of hope, but out of reality. A quick Internet search produces many real 2016 telehealth predictions; some are witty, honest and steadfast, others more conservative. However one common thread not to ignore is the ever increasing benefits of telehealth and the great strives by the US Congress to regulate and support such. For instance there are 17 telehealth bills pending in the Senate and 21 in the House; from excise tax on medical devices to the “VETS Act to improve the ability of health care professionals to treat veterans via telehealth…” The 114th Congress ends in January 2017 so the progressive reality of telehealth to have a presence in your healthcare entity is undeniable and if such already exists it will be more palatable.

Another common thread in my searches is the statement: 2016 will be the Year of Telehealth. It is easy to believe this statement without any gullibility especially after experiencing first hand the steadfast innovation of telehealth over the last few months of 2015. Coupled with the readmission penalties, competitive advantage, telehealth parity laws, quality reporting outcomes incentives, and transformation of rural care it is no surprise that this statement is used liberally. Furthermore every year it is becoming increasingly more difficult to find skeptics of telehealth, the list of benefits are always increasing and scrutiny of our healthcare system forces many to find solutions. Telehealth is on that strong progression towards not just being an added bonus to way we provide care to our patients, but in some cases the only way we provide care.

I would never claim to be an elite expert in the field of healthcare innovation and policy, so I do not want to go into what I think will happen in 2016, but one cannot help feel the buzz in our Wellpepper office in Fremont, Seattle, WA. Our group serves has an example of what is going on in the mhealth field; we have grown in leaps and bounds just over the last 6 months in order to keep up with the demands of the industry. I cannot believe how incredibly lucky I am to be part of such great innovative team of professionals that have one goal of many in mind that brings my sentiment home, to make healthcare better for all of us.

Happy New Year!

Posted in: Healthcare Policy, Healthcare Technology, Healthcare transformation, M-health, Seattle, Telemedicine

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Digital Health and the Influence on Healthcare: Wearables, Telehealth, & Treatment

Things are looking up in the world of digital health at least this was the view from “Digital Health and the Influence on Healthcare: Wearables, Telehealth, & Treatment.” The WBBA held their last event of the season with a panel on digital health, hosted by Russell Benaroya, CEO of Everymove, and featuring Dr. John Scott, Director of Telemedicine at UW Medicine, Davide Vigano CEO and co-founder of Sensoria, Mike Blume, independent healthcare consultant, and myself. I’d characterize the overall event as being optimistic and realistic, both from the panel and the attendees.

Digital health event

It was a dark and stormy night

No one said that the road to digital health was easy or fast, but the consensus that things like moving to the cloud, and the acceptance and adoption of patient-driven digital care is reaching a turning point.

Both Sensoria and Wellpepper’s business models are made possible by the cloud. For Sensoria this was the ability to process millions of datapoints coming from their wearable technology. For Wellpepper, this is our ability to rapidly implement solutions working with department heads facing a particular challenge in patient engagement and outcome tracking and improvement. Dr. Scott remarked on the dramatic drop in the cost of telemedicine solutions over the years he’s been an advocate and solutions due to both Moore’s Law and cloud computing over his tenure running telemedicine at UW.

Sensoria's Quantified Socks

Sensoria’s Quantified Socks

As well, although Dr. Scott highlighted how telemedicine was limited by arcane reimbursement models that did not allow for patients to receive telemedicine consults in their homes, he and other panelists discussed that they were not waiting for billing codes to do the right things in using technology to deliver better care. As usual, the Affordable Care Act was seen as a big driver as patient-centered and digital care.

Possibly because there were two ex-Microsoftees on the panel (Davide and me) a cloud-based platform approach was touted as the best way to both collect, analyze, and sort the data that came in directly from patients. In the case of Sensoria and Davide, this was to look for trends and patterns coming from sensor-integrated clothing, and in the case of Wellpepper it was to collect patient outcomes in the context of care and compare these across patients, procedures, and healthcare organizations.

This view led to a discussion about the proliferation of data, and everyone agreed that digital health has the ability to overwhelm health systems with data that they are currently not prepared for. EMRs are not set up to include sensor or patient-reported data, and as Dr. Scott pointed out, physicians are not looking for every data point on a patient, only the anomalies, like glucose out of range.

One audience member asked about whether healthcare organizations had an overall data strategy, and whether digital health data should be collected as part of that. It’s an interesting idea to consider but it seems like it’s still a long way off in healthcare. Does your organization or CIO have an overall data strategy? It seems that quality measures and the need for patient reported outcomes are introducing new requirements for data, but this is at the departmental or initiative level. Grappling with questions like this will be important as connected devices, digital, health, and patient reported outcomes enter the mainstream.

Posted in: Health Regulations, Healthcare Disruption, Healthcare Policy, Healthcare Research, Healthcare Technology, Healthcare transformation, M-health, Outcomes, Telemedicine

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