Mobile-First Transformation of Healthcare

Mobile-First Transformation of Healthcare

When asked to explain their most pressing challenges, nearly every technology and IT department have similar responses: too many outstanding projects, ever-present backlogs, ever-growing demands, relentless roll-outs of latest technologies, not enough time to innovate and therefore the complexity of everyone’s favorite buzzword: interoperability.

Healthcare companies that endure and win during this 24/7, digital-mobile surrounding are going to be those whose technology teams accept two basic tenets:

1. you'll never be less busy than you're today.

2. Your opportunity to innovate and improve isn't getting to be better than it's today.

As technologists, we must borrow and apply to healthcare the mobile-first game plans and tools that are already successfully deployed in retail, manufacturing supply-chain, financial service, and other industries, from window shopping on Amazon or depositing a check from a smartphone.

Award-winning technology makes an impression 

In a project that has covered nearly five years; the VITAS mobile technology action put iPhone 6+ smartphones and tablets into the hands of 8,000 VITAS clinicians. Clinicians now deliver mobile-supported hospice care, communications, orders, and interactions to patients’ bedsides, whether privately homes, nursing or hospital facilities, or assisted living communities—quickly, securely, and reliably. The drive earned VITAS the 2018 Process Excellence Network Awards (PEX) for a technology-enabled process betterment project.

The goal of those personal mobile “workstations” was to scale back paperwork, speed up admissions of patients into hospice care, and place our interdisciplinary hospice teams at patients’ bedsides quickly. The spillover impact has been “outsized.” VITAS has:

• Saved clinicians’ time. By replacing keystrokes with swipes and therefore the power of touch-based systems, we eliminated estimated 60–70 keystrokes from bedside interactions. Mobile workflow applications allow our clinicians to line the device down if required, making patient interactions about the patient, not the pc.

• Embraced mobile clinical systems that are 20 times easier to coach, reducing orientation from 20+ hours to at least one hour. Employees are deployed to the sector quickly and use the phones immediately for communicating; completing/ sending forms; ordering equipment, supplies, prescriptions, and more.

Significant cost-effective and clinically effective results are delivered by shifting care—even for end-stage and chronic-disease patients—out of the hospital, into the house, and on to the bedside

• Streamlined operations. The fully interoperable solution has processed 288,863 medical records and referred 82,523 patients electronically since the 2015 launch; 97 percent of electronic referrals are handled and skilled within quarter-hour or less.

• Saved $2.2 million on hardware by replacing PCs and software with the iPhone6+ for physicians, nurses, chaplains, and social workers.

• Lowered equipment cost-per-caregiver to $43 from $71.25 while maintaining a theft/loss rate of but 1 percent (vs. 8 percent projection).

• Reduced per-referral costs by 15 percent, for $908,000 total savings in 2016.

• Reduced inbound and outbound calls to VITAS referral centers: 21 percent fewer inbound calls (665,973 in 2014 to 529,026 in 2016) and 40 percent fewer outbound calls (918,00 to 554,00)

The hospice influence on healthcare reform

It’s probable to me that the hospice and post-acute care experts are the proving grounds for healthcare innovation. because of our ability to grasp and fine-tune technology solutions significant cost-effective and clinically effective results are delivered by shifting care—even for end-stage and chronic-disease patients—out of the hospital, into the house, and on to the bedside.

What else have I learned?

• Results are less about the technology and more about what it allows: I’ve been impressed by our clinicians’ appreciation of their VITAS-assigned smartphones and tablets. Not only does the iPhone’s small form factor easily accommodate laboratory coat pockets and bags/purses, but it also reduces the spread of infection because the devices don't move from room-to-room as shared workstations. Our clinicians are grateful for the additional minutes they will spend one-on-one with patients and their families—not filling out paperwork and forms.

"Success isn't only about how well your employed together with your partners but also how well those partners work with each other"

• Hire the proper people and switch them loose: the most important challenge is attracting the proper talent, the programmers and developers I ask because of the “steely-eyed geeks.” They’re bright, innovative individuals with extreme technical skills who have the tenacity to urge the work wiped out an environment that cultivates and supports innovation. If your best and brightest technical minds aren't performing on the large problems, you’ll never solve the IT challenges that keep you up in the dark. Our most difficult challenge was developing fast, secure, and privacy-compliant real-time data transfers from our EMR to the mobile device. Once our technical architects solved the matter, we successfully developed a multi-factor data interface that was fully survivable on cellular or Wi-Fi. 

• Tech partnerships are key: AT&T’s 4G network has worked remarkably well altogether 44 VITAS locations around the country, and that we expect even better results from 5G. Success isn't only about how well you're employed together with your partners but also how well those partners work with one another. The partnership between AT&T, VMware and Apple is instrumental. Their willingness to deploy engineering talent, and their commitment to the mixing of their solutions with each other, made a seamless clinical experience possible. MobiChord and Wandera were also deployed into the mobile ecosystem to configure, monitor bandwidth and usage, and stop outages.

What’s next?

The VITAS mobile app, which in early 2018 experienced 101 percent growth compared to an equivalent period last year supported downloads and open rates, will soon allow healthcare professionals to refer their patients to VITAS directly from any smartphone. Our goal by late 2018: drastic reduction (and eventual elimination) of paper records and forms.

Those folks who add this profession understand that hospice is quite a medicine. it's our mission and our passion, a calling of sorts: a singular profession that draws healthcare professionals who are committed to compassionate care and quality of life. therein regard, hospice can function as an incubator for fulfillment for the remainder of the healthcare industry.


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