Digital Disease Management to optimize care and improve patient outcomes

Patient Generated Health Data

How Patient Generated Health Data Changes the Digital Health Game

November 5, 2019

Healthcare Stakeholders Can Leverage Patient Generated Health Data to Improve Outcomes and Reduce Costs

Patient generated health data (PGHD) is defined by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) as “health-related data created, recorded, or gathered by or from patients (or family members or other caregivers) to help address a health concern.” This includes biometric data, lifestyle choices, treatment history, health history, and symptoms. This is a deviation from the previous scenario in healthcare where the clinician was responsible for all the data collection, typically done during a patient’s visit to the office. Today, a lot of healthcare data is being generated by patients on their habitual living environment.

Why the Rise in Patient Generated Health Data?

Patient generated health data (PGHD) is increasingly becoming a mainstay in healthcare and its growth is being driven by  the significant advances in healthcare technology and the proliferation and popularity of consumer health devices which are becoming more affordable. Patients are now able to collect health-related data 24/7 and/or enter data into some software application which allows them to keep track of fitness and other health goals. Health devices like the Fitbit, Apple Watch, and smart clothing, are wearables that collect data such as steps and heart rate. There are mobile applications that collect data on lifestyle metrics such as caloric intake, physical activity, hydration, tobacco and alcohol use, and medication adherence. There are also registered medical devices such as the pacemaker and blood glucose monitors that monitor data on heart rate and blood glucose levels. Some of these devices allow for remote monitoring where data is collected remotely and transmitted to the healthcare provider.

76% of patients believe that wearables have the potential to help them better manage their health and potentially improve it.

Accenture Report

Big data analytics is another factor that is driving the increase in PGHD. A lot of investment is going into big data analytics due to its potential to offer advanced intelligence and objectivity. The ability to collect and analyze large quantities of health data is invaluable to population health management (PHM) and precision medicine. The National Institute of Health has launched an All of Us ResearchProgram in an effort to “gather data from one million or more people living in the United States to accelerate research and improve health.” PGHD will play a big role in this and other research programs that are seeking for large amounts of patient data collection.

Leveraging Patient Generated Health Data can Benefit your Healthcare Organization

Patient generated health data (PGHD) is here to stay and healthcare stakeholders can harness the continuous stream of PGHD that is available and leverage it to improve patient care. PGHD can provide clinicians with valuable insights into the health of patients outside of the care setting. Leveraging PGHD can benefit the patient, the provider, and the healthcare organization in various ways including:

  1. Disease management: PGHD can help providers to identify trends and outliers, allowing for more efficient data analysis and monitoring. PGHD is especially beneficial in the management of chronic conditions where remote monitoring devices generate data that can help providers to intervene earlier enabling better tracking of the progression of disease, preventing complications, and avoiding hospital admissions and readmissions.
  2. Improve patient outcomes: this comes from proactive monitoring of changes in routine, identification of exacerbations before they result in acute episodes and timely interventions.
  3. Improve patient engagement: the use of PGHD by providers increases patient engagement. A 2016 survey by WebMD and Medscape Education found that 65% of providers reported that their patients were more engaged when PGHD was used during their office visits. The survey also found that 97% of patients were more likely to measure, collect, and provide PGHD to their providers if they felt that the data will be used to develop their treatment plan or care.
  4. Reduce costs: the more efficient and timely treatment and improved outcomes associated with the use of PGHD will in turn result in reduced costs from fewer admissions and readmissions. Providers will also avoid penalties from high readmission rates.
  5. Support value-based care reimbursements: with the move towards value-based care, clinicians can benefit financially for using PGHD in patient care through Advanced Payment Models (APMs). The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will reimburse providers for remote patient monitoring services such as the monitoring of physiological factors like weight, blood pressure, pulse oximetry, and respiratory flow rate as per the 2019 Physician Fee Schedule.
  6. Improve analytics: continuous data on patients provided by PGHD can help to develop predictive analytics models based on advanced algorithms
  7. Compliance with federal regulations: incorporating PGHD into the care they provide will help healthcare providers and organizations comply with federal regulations. Presently, the CMS through the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) requires that healthcare providers integrate PGHD into Electronic Health Records (EHRs) using Certified Electronic Health Record Technology, although the CMS is seeking comments on this requirement in its 2020 Quality Payment Program Proposed Rule and Request for Information for 2021.

The healthcare industry is changing and is moving towards more patient-centred care, further patient engagement, and increased use of healthcare technologies. A big part of this change is patients generating their own data on their health status and conditions. Progressive healthcare stakeholders can digitally transform their organizations and derive numerous benefits from leveraging PGHD to improve the care they provide and add to the vast amount of information needed to improve health systems and make breakthroughs in areas such as precision medicine.

Learn more about Acuma Health technologies to help you incorporate patient generated health data into your healthcare organizations or begin leveraging healthcare technology today with this guide.


Medication Management to Reduce Avoidable Readmissions

October 23, 2019

Improve Patient Compliance in Medication Management

Patients with chronic illnesses are usually placed on a chronic care management plan that includes multiple medications. Proper medication management, including compliance with the care management plan, is integral to successfully treating high risk patients with chronic conditions and minimizing hospital admissions and readmissions.

Non-compliance or non-adherence to medication is of global concern in healthcare and is associated with poorer patient outcomes including hospital readmissions and death. There are reports of medication non-adherence affecting 50% of patients and resulting in an increased likelihood of hospitalization by up to 134% for diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Medication management can improve patient compliance and therefore significantly reduce avoidable hospital admissions and readmissions. Patient compliance with respect to medication management could be improved in ways such as:

  • Providing support so that patients can better understand their disease and its management
  • Providing medication management counselling for caregivers
  • Incorporating pharmacists into the care team as coaches for drug therapies
  • Leveraging healthcare technology such as automated medication dispensers and text message reminders

Medication Management in Reducing Avoidable Readmissions Effectively

With non-adherence to medication comes increased hospital readmissions and associated costs. Healthcare organizations, spurred by regulations of the Affordable Care Act which instituted penalties for excessive 30-day hospital readmission rates for certain conditions, are implementing programs to reduce these rates. The Reducing Avoidable Hospital Readmissions Effectively (RARE) campaign was one initiative within the Minnesota Hospital Association aimed at reducing avoidable hospital readmissions. The RARE campaign saw healthcare stakeholders in the state of Minnesota collaborating to combat the issue of avoidable hospital readmissions within 30 days of hospital discharge by focussing on five key strategies:

  1. Comprehensive discharge planning
  2. Medication management
  3. Patient and family engagement
  4. Transition care support
  5. Transition communications

The medication management strategy included educating patients to ensure that they knew about their medications and how to take them properly, providing a written list of instructions to both the patient and his/her family, and collecting a list of the medications a patient was taking and updating it with any changes that was made in the hospital so that the next healthcare provider had the patient’s most current medications. Additionally, patients with multiple prescribed medications (greater than 5), or more than two medication changes in the hospital, were referred for follow-up visits with other healthcare professionals to help them manage their prescriptions.

The RARE campaign was a success with the Minnesota Hospital Association reporting 9,981 readmissions avoided, 39,924 nights where patients slept in their own beds, and $87.9 million in savings between 2009 and the second quarter of 2014.

Healthcare Technology to Support Medication Management

The use of healthcare technology is becoming mainstream and essential. As in many other aspects of healthcare, technology can be leveraged to support medication management for the benefit of all healthcare stakeholders. Some ways in which healthcare technology can be used to support medication management include:

  • Electronic Health/Medical Records (EHR/EMR)–can be used to accumulate and update medications thus facilitating the smooth coordination of a patient’s medications across all healthcare stakeholders.
  • Electronic Decision Support Systems (EDSS)–these are tools that can be used to support healthcare providers in making evidence-based decisions at the point of care and to provide patient-specific recommendations.
  • mHealth apps – these can be utilized to remind patients to pick up or renew their prescriptions, take medication based on their prescribed medication schedule, keep track of their medications, and record progress.
  • Technology to support different aspects of medication management–Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE) or electronic prescribing (e-prescribing) tools can be used to support medication ordering, bar coding can support nurses in medication administration, and there are tools for assisting pharmacists with reviewing medication orders and dispensing.
  • Error monitoring – Computerised systems and applications can be utilized to facilitate documentation and detection of Adverse Drug Effects and support the voluntary reporting of medication errors to regulatory bodies.
  • Text messages – can be used by healthcare providers to remind patients of when and how to take their medications as well as remind them to refill and/or renew their prescription
  • Automated medication dispensers – dispense pre-packaged medication in the right dose and at the right time. These machines can remind patients of the time to take their medications as well as collect data on missed doses that can be fed back to the patient’s healthcare provider for use in their care management.

Healthcare technology is revolutionizing the way healthcare services are provided and is beneficial to the patient and all healthcare stakeholders. There are many tools that can be utilized to manage health conditions and improve patient outcomes. See how Acuma Health’s Digital Disease Management Solution can help your healthcare organization improve outcomes and optimize care. For more strategies on improved management of patients, download the Guide to Leveraging Healthcare Technology.


Patient Engagement Strategies for Healthcare Stakeholders

October 8, 2019

Ten Patient Engagement Strategies for Healthcare Stakeholders

Healthcare in the US has moved away from a fee-for-service model and is embracing value-based care largely driven by policies, regulations, and health care reform initiatives including the Affordable Care Act, and Meaningful Use. To maintain sustainability and remain competitive, healthcare stakeholders are developing and implementing new strategies to help them improve patient outcomes and the value and quality of the service they provide. Patient engagement, where providers and patients work together to improve health outcomes, is one such approach being embraced by healthcare stakeholders and has become integral to the success of healthcare organizations.

Here are 10 patient engagement strategies for healthcare stakeholders looking to improve the quality of care they offer:

1. Develop and implement patient engagement policies and procedures

Policies are necessary to demonstrate the commitment of the organization to patient engagement as well as to ensure that all staff and other stakeholders are aware that patient engagement is a focus of the organization. Specific procedures must be developed for all staff to follow to ensure that the policy is adhered to and the goal is achieved.

2. Develop a patient engagement framework

This framework should define the organization’s vision for patient engagement, stating clearly what the organization should look like when the patient engagement strategy is working. It will guide the organization in planning for, implementing and evaluating patient engagement activities across all departments and in all areas that can impact patient engagement. Some of these areas include; personal care and health decisions, organizational program or service design, delivery of service across the care continuum, and incorporating the patient’s family as well as other healthcare stakeholders into the process. Define the goals and expected outcomes for successful patient engagement at the individual level (patients and families), the healthcare team level, and the organizational level. The policies and procedures developed should form part of the patient engagement framework.

3. Create a culture of patient engagement

For any patient engagement strategy to be successful there must be buy-in from all stakeholders. Ensure that the organization creates a culture of patient engagement by involving staff, providers, and patients as much as possible in the creation of the patient engagement vision, policies and procedures, and framework. Creating a strong culture of patient engagement can support high quality health care.

4. Leveraging healthcare technology

Numerous healthcare technologies are available that can support patient engagement for healthcare organizations; implement the technologies that are right for your organization. Some of these technologies include:

  • EMR/EHR
  • Patient portals
  • Telephone calls/SMS/Email
  • Social media
  • Online appointment scheduling
  • Mobile health applications
  • Telehealth/telemedicine
  • Digital disease management solutions
  • Patient engagement solutions

Employing the right technology and services is key to successful patient engagement.

When adopting healthcare technologies, it is best to implement cloud-based services and software. You must also ensure that solutions are compliant with the different healthcare regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Meaningful Use mandates.

5. Educating patients and healthcare providers

Educating both patients and healthcare providers is fundamental to the success of any patient engagement strategy. Educational interventions for patients can focus on areas such as preventative health; safety improvement (including medication management); and managing their conditions, especially for those with chronic illnesses. It can take different formats such as holding educational sessions (including food demonstrations) in a hospital, clinic, or the community; pamphlets; brochures; YouTube videos; videos playing in waiting rooms; information on the organization’s website; and sending text messages with information such as medication safety reminders.

Healthcare providers need to be educated on the importance of the role of the patient in their own care and how to engage with patients. Educate providers to use lay language to communicate with patients instead of medical jargon, have open discussions on patient engagement, and include patient engagement in teaching sessions and workshops.

6. Touch points during patient visits

Look for opportunities to engage the patient when they visit the organization. There are many touch points that can be leveraged to engage the patient and improve their experience and satisfaction. Some touch points in a typical primary care setting and how they can be utilized for patient engagement include:

  • Waiting room – TV, print materials, posters
  • Reception area – receptionist (at check-in and check-out), computer kiosk, follow-up email and correspondence
  • Nurse’s examination room – nurse
  • Doctor’s examination room – doctor, posters, print materials

7. Incentives and rewards

Try to engage patients by offering incentives and rewards for active involvement in their healthcare. This can include providing discounts or entries into a raffle for meeting health outcomes set between the provider and the patient such as lower blood pressure or reduced Body Mass Index (BMI). The organization can partner with local gyms to offer a discount on membership to its patients.

8. Engage the patient as part of the healthcare team

Patients will feel more engaged and empowered when they are actively involved in the decision-making surrounding their healthcare. Interact with and enable patients to become involved through methods such as making online payments, viewing test results, scheduling appointments online, requesting prescription refills, and utilizing patient-generated health data.

Healthcare organizations can engage patients in planning committees, patient and public engagement groups, patient advisory committees or in prospective surveys to encourage change.

WHO Report

9. Empower caregivers

According to an American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) report of 2015, 43.5 million adults in the US had acted as unpaid caregiver to a child or adult in the previous 12 months. With so many persons functioning as caregivers, a good patient engagement strategy must incorporate the caregivers as well. Caregivers play an active role in the healthcare of patients, so empowered with the right education and provided with the proper tools and support, caregivers can have a significant positive impact on the success of any patient engagement strategy.

10. Measure progress and make changes

To ensure the organization’s patient engagement strategy is successful and sustained, it must be continuously measured, and changes made where necessary. Gather feedback from patients, their families, staff, and other healthcare stakeholders who have an impact on the strategy. Conduct surveys and assessments and use all results and feedback to revise and revamp the strategy. Remove what is not working and implement new viable suggestions.

If you are looking to develop or enhance the patient engagement strategies in your healthcare organization and seeking dedicated software tools for improving the care you deliver, Acuma Health’s Digital Disease Management Solution may be right for you.

Contact Acuma Health and request a consultation today or get started by downloading the Guide to Leveraging Healthcare Technology.


Patient Engagement Strategies Can Assist Healthcare Stakeholders with a Competitive Advantage

September 24, 2019

Healthcare Technology: Patient Engagement Solutions Allow Progressive Healthcare Organizations to Lead the Way to Patient Empowerment

The healthcare system is complex, involving multiple stakeholders all surrounding the patient at the centre. With the advent of value-based care driven by the Affordable Care Act, healthcare organizations and providers are seeking new approaches to improving patient outcomes and the value and quality of the service they provide. One such approach has been through patient engagement.

What is patient engagement?

The World Health Organization describes patient engagement as “the process of building the capacity of patients, families, carers, as well as health care providers, to facilitate and support the active involvement of patients in their own care, in order to enhance safety, quality and people-centeredness of health care service delivery.” Patient engagement is being increasingly recognized as an essential component of health care and major health care reform initiatives such as Meaningful Use, Patient-Centered Medical Homes (PCMH), and Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), have patient engagement as the goal.

Patient engagement is: “Providers and patients working together to improve health.”

HIMSS

Why is patient engagement important?

Patient engagement is important for many reasons including:

  • Improved health outcomes – engaged patients have better outcomes. Patients who are more engaged in the decision-making surrounding their healthcare tend to be healthier, show better adherence to medication, and have better outcomes.
  • Patient retention -patients who feel highly engaged by their healthcare provider are more likely to remain with that provider.
  • Reduced costs -healthcare organizations that invest in healthcare technology to aid in patient engagement, ultimately realize reduced costs as technology such as the Electronic Medical/Health Record (EMR/EHR) can help to improve workflow through the use of shared information, reduce or eliminate paperwork and assure accurate information. Technology can also help to reduce errors, improve scheduling, insurance, and payments.
  • Organizational competitiveness – a healthcare organization that is fully engaged with its patients functions more efficiently, offers patients options such as online appointment scheduling, and communicates better with patients, among other things. All this provides the organization a competitive edge over other organizations that do not have patient engagement tools and infrastructure in place.
  • Improved patient satisfaction – patient engagement can improve patient satisfaction as increased communication with their healthcare providers and receiving more information regarding their health can result in patients becoming more confident about their health status and ultimately being more satisfied.

Healthcare Technology for Patient Engagement

Patient engagement is now an essential component to the success of healthcare organizations. Progressive healthcare organizations are developing and implementing patient engagement strategies and solutions that can assist them in improving the quality of healthcare services they deliver and provide them with a competitive advantage. Healthcare technology plays a major role in any patient engagement strategy and as such, progressive healthcare organizations are utilizing available technologies and implementing processes to digitally transform the way they engage with patients including:

  • Allowing patients to book appointments and request prescription refills online
  • Enabling patients to access their test results online
  • Communicating with patients via email, SMS, video calls, etc.
  • Utilizing social media and YouTube videos to provide information to patients
  • Developing patient portals that integrate with EMR/EHR systems and can facilitate patient registration, online bill payments, secure messaging, among other things
  • Incorporating data generated from wearable devices and mHealth apps that patients are using as part of their care process
  • Implementing Digital Disease Management Solutions that can collect and leverage patient generated health data for improved patient outcomes
  • Utilizing telehealth/telemedicine to provide patients with specialist care that is not available in their setting or to reach patients in remote/difficult to access areas
  • Acquiring patient engagement solutions and tools

“A study out of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine found that medication adherence increased from 54% to 73% when automated telecommunication-based reminders were used.”

If you are looking to develop or enhance patient engagement strategies in your healthcare organization and are seeking dedicated software tools for improving the care you deliver, Acuma Health’s Digital Disease Management Solution may be right for you.

Get started by downloading the Guide to Leveraging Healthcare Technology here.


Leveraging Healthcare Technology Guide Now Available to Support Improved Management of High-Risk Patients and Patient Outcomes

September 9, 2019

The complexity of the healthcare industry requires leveraging data-driven healthcare technology to improve patient outcomes – The Leveraging Healthcare Technology Guide is available as a free download to help transform the management of patients with complex chronic conditions.

NEWS RELEASE – San Jose, CA – August 2019 – Fast growing leader in digital health and disease management solutions, Acuma Health, is pleased to introduce the Guide to Leveraging Healthcare Technology to Improve Management of High-Risk Patients. The free 16-page download will help healthcare organizations truly understand the complexity of the healthcare industry and the challenges of disease management in high-risk patient care. The guide will also illuminate how healthcare technology can be used to maximize patient engagement and transform the collection, analysis, and reporting of patient generated health data to achieve improved patient outcomes.

Patients with chronic complex conditions such as (hemophilia, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and more) are cared for by several different healthcare providers, making care coordination a challenge and resulting in increased cost of care.

The Guide to Leveraging Healthcare Technology to Improve Management of High-Risk Patients covers a variety of crucial areas that healthcare stakeholders should be well-versed on to ensure better management of patient care and costs including:

  • Challenges of chronic care management in high-risk patients
  • Increased use and availability of technology in healthcare
  • Growth in use of smart connected consumer devices
  • Ways to improve and enhance patient self-care
  • How a digital disease management solution can help improve patient outcomes and reduce cost

“The Guide to Leveraging Healthcare Technology to Improve Management of High-Risk Patients was developed because we wanted to provide healthcare stakeholders with a roadmap to improving high-risk patient care and outcomes while optimizing healthcare costs. We know that implementing the right healthcare technology is a major part of that journey,” said Anoo Nathan, President and CEO of Acuma Health.

“The Acuma Health team is passionately dedicated to assisting healthcare stakeholders who are treating and managing patients with chronic conditions. We focus on leveraging the most up-to-date technologies to provide a frictionless process to allow patients and their healthcare providers to engage,” said Dr. Sanjaya Kumar, Chief Medical Officer Smart Monitor.

Those interested in obtaining the Guide to Leveraging Healthcare Technology to Improve Management of High-Risk Patients can download the guide for free at the Guide to Leveraging Healthcare Technology download page. Interested parties can also contact our healthcare technology experts with any questions or to request a consultation.

About Acuma Health

Acuma Health, a business unit of Smart Monitor, is a fast-growing Silicon Valley company and leader in digital health and disease management solutions. The company is led by a management team that encompasses a vital blend of technology, healthcare, and clinical expertise leadership.

Acuma Health serves leading specialty pharmacies, pharmaceutical manufacturers, self-insured employers, hospitals and healthcare institutions, and accountable care organizations across the country.

The patent-protected, proprietary, digital health platform, Acuma Health’s Digital Disease Management Solution, collects, manages, and analyzes patient generated health data which provides actionable, cost-reducing, real-time insights and workflow optimizations to healthcare stakeholders.

For more information about Acuma Health, please visit www.acumahealth.com or contact our healthcare technology experts.