Catholic Health Services taps Uniphy for caregiver communication, collaboration app

By Jonah Comstock
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Catholic Health Services of Long Island, a 1,928-bed, six-hospital health system, has tapped Uniphy Health for a physician communication and collaboration app that will be rolled out across the whole system. 

"The most important aspect Catholic Health Services was interested in [was] its ability to support in-network referrals, minimize referral leakage and maximize referral retention in network," Dr. Stuart Hochron, chief medical officer and co-founder of Uniphy Health, told MobiHealthNews. "It’s a huge problem: Hospitals the size of CHS are in a position to lose up to $40 million a year in terms of referral leakage just from a clinically-integrated network."

As the name implies, Uniphy has created an app intended to bring together many different workflow needs for physicians. It supports secure messaging, secure image sharing, and group announcements as well as a physician directory. The app also facilitates referrals, helping to keep them in network, and interfaces with two databases: the hospital's EHR and the New York State Health Information Exchange (HIE). This allows physicians who are on some kind of value-based compensation such as bundled payments or shared risk arrangements to be notified when their patients show up at the emergency room.

"In this case we’re taking data from the New York State Health Information Exchange on patient transitions from home or nursing homes into an emergency department, and when one of the clinically-integrated network patients hits an emergency room, the primary care doctor, or if it’s a bundled payment, shared risk patient, those physicians who are financially at risk will receive an instant notification on their mobile device," Hochron said. "One click will bring them to the emergency department physician and they then have a 40 percent chance of preventing that admission. It’s a tremendously powerful proven tool to prevent readmission."

What's being rolled out right now is a caregiver-facing app that helps smooth communication throughout the enterprise, but Uniphy offers some of its other customers patient-facing apps as well. Those apps can tap into the same network to allow patients to communicate with their doctors for things like appointment scheduling or price comparisons. Uniphy is meeting with CHS to discuss the possibility of rolling out that app next.

Dr. Joel Shu, CHS vice president for clinical transformation and population health, said in a statement that CHS chose Uniphy Health for its straightforward design.

“The differentiator with Uniphy Health is that their platform is designed from the ground up for clinical communications," he said. "There are bigger players in healthcare IT, the EHRs, for example, but when they try to bolt something onto their existing systems, it’s not always successful.”

The key to making an app like Uniphy work is quickly getting a critical mass of providers to use it, so that communications sent in the app don't go unanswered. Hochron says that they take that challenge seriously.

"You have to give the physicians [and other caregivers] functionality that they can’t live without," he said. "It has to be functionality that’s difficult to acquire elsewhere, and it has to provide them with a path of least resistance to the most important information."