Care Transitions Need Improvement, Simple Technology Can Address Process Ailments

Care Transitions Need Improvement, Simple Technology Can Address Process Ailments

Today, nearly 1 in 5 patients discharged from a hospital is readmitted within 30 days.  Simple IT-enabled processes and tools can help make care transitions easier for patients, care givers and providers by addressing the gaps and burdens in care coordination.  Doing so will help achieve the tripartite mission of better care, better health and lower costs.

The “Discharge Follow-Up Appointment Challenge” features the unique opportunity for winning solutions to garner the attention of innovative providers, such as the ONC’s Beacon Communities.  Keep reading for detail about the challenge and insight from Korey Capozza, a member of the Challenge’s review panel, and Consumer Engagement Director for the Utah Beacon Community Improving Care through Connectivity and Collaboration (IC3).

The Challenge closes on April 30, so sign up now (note that existing and new solutions can be submitted)!

Challenge Goal:  Make Post-Discharge Appointment Scheduling Easier, and Develop a Scalable Solution

The “Discharge Follow-Up Appointment Challenge” brings attention to a critical problem in appointment scheduling.  Research has shown that scheduling follow-up appointments and post-discharge testing before a patient is discharged, with input and engagement from patients and caregivers, is one of the most important elements to a safe and effective transition.  While an increasing number of organizations has adopted this as best practice, most patients across the country continue to leave hospitals without confirmed appointments and many providers remain frustrated by highly manual and unreliable systems.

Challenge Prize:  Provider Partnership and Pilots – Insight from Korey Capozza

One of the unique features of this Challenge is the opportunity for winning solutions to pilot their applications in the care delivery setting.  This “matchmaking” between developers and providers is sorely needed in order to find solutions to some of the most intractable healthcare problems we face today — including preventable hospital readmissions.  Health-IT innovators often face a “chicken and egg” problem. In order to convince providers to take a chance on new technologies, the innovators need to show proof of concept through pilot testing or study results. But innovators can’t test their solutions in the care delivery setting without provider buy-in, which  is all the more feasible with evidence from pilot tests.

At the same time, providers recognize that contemporary protocol does not maximize efficiency and innovations that improve the care transition process are necessary.  Too often, patients return to the hospital soon after discharge - an outcome that is frustrating to patients and provides alike. Yet, the care delivery setting is remarkably isolated from the developer/health innovation community.  Health innovators create solutions in a bubble, divorced from the setting where these solutions are intended to be implemented. As a result, they often fail to consider workflow processes, human factors, and the realities of the care delivery setting.  Likewise, providers often lack the time or expertise to consider the barrage of products and solutions that come their way from the private sector. Yet, as we have discovered, in deploying an mhealth innovation in Beacon Community clinics, providers are hungry for solutions that improve patient engagement, experience and, ultimately, health outcomes. They just need help finding those that are worthy of their attention and personal investment.

This Challenge helps bridge this divide by offering developers the opportunity to take their solutions to the field, gain valuable feedback on how to integrate with care delivery settings, and refine their innovations accordingly. In turn, it offers innovative communities receptive to technology-based solutions the opportunity to try out products that have been reviewed, vetted, and found to be worthy of deployment by a community of experts — a rare win-win for both parties.

Health 2.0