Above the EMR: Care teams use the cloud to close gaps

From the mHealthNews archive
By Eric Wicklund

Two Indiana physician practices are using a cloud-based platform to "connect the dots" in patient care, enabling clinicians in different locations to pull in patient data and coordinate a care management plan on tablets.

The practices, part of the 22-hospital St. Vincent Health system, are piloting the population health platform from Acupera to "provide transitional care management to patients leaving institutional care, identify and proactively manage patients with complex chronic conditions and transition to patient-centric team care."

Bruce Bethancourt, chief medial officer for the St. Vincent Medical Group, says the platform gives clinicians the freedom to pull information from various locations and connect the care team in real-time. That's quite a change from the "day-prior huddle" method, in which physicians met in one location and tried to collect all the files and test results they'd need.

"You're getting information that you need at the point of care," he said. "Things aren't siloed any more."

Ron Razmi, chief executive officer of San Francisco-based Acupera, says the company's population health analytics and clinical workflow management platform meets a glaring need among healthcare providers who are trying to transition from fee-for-service to accountable care. The platform pulls in care data from various locations, identifies care team members and assigns tasks based on their roles. Razmi sees the Acupera platform as a dynamic workflow tool sitting atop whatever EMRs the provider may have, pulling out information that the care team needs at the point of care. Bethancourt – whose organization is now undergoing a change of EMRs – agreed.

"You can get some of the data out, but not necessarily in a meaningful way," he said. "This facilitates (clinicians) caring for patients, giving them what they need so they can focus on the immediate issues."

Razmi said the platform also enables caregivers to keep tabs on a patient's progress at home and intercede if he or she isn't following doctor's orders. That's an important step in long-term or chronic care, where patient adherence tends to wane after a while.

"Patients haven't shown that they stay with these types of programs long-term," he said. "Most people have other things to do. Even if you have the best medical program it isn't going to make any different if (the patients) are not going to follow it."

Bethancourt said he's already seen positive results in the first month of the pilot, with the platform even identifying "unappreciated risk factors," such as when a patient is getting the right medicine but at the wrong dose. In six months he'll report on quality metrics from the pilot to Ascension Health, St. Vincent's parent company, and expects the Acupera platform to be rolled out to more locations.

"We're identifying gaps in care and closing them," he said. "That's huge."