3 ways your IT system
can help your practice be more proactive

 

New patient management systems have the power to change the way we deliver care, yet care teams are rarely using them to their full potential. Discover three ways you can use your IT platform to deliver more proactive care to get ahead of problems before they arise.   

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Your patient management system is probably a lot like your smartphone: It has plenty of sophisticated, innovative capabilities, but there’s a good chance you’re only using a small portion of them.

 

Your system may have many features and functionalities, but to get the most out of it, it’s important to identify the ones most beneficial to your practice. Below, we examine 3 ways your system can help your practice improve quality and reduce cost by being more proactive in providing patient care.

Contributor

Tim Murphy Portrait

Tim Murphy

Business Leader,

New Business Solutions

Philips

What’s in your data

 

Your patient management system is continuously collecting data from numerous locations. EMRs, therapy devices and patient wearables all deliver real-time data that can provide insights to guide care and treatment decisions.

Data from therapy devices:

  • Adherence
  • Device usage
  • Respiratory rate
  • Tidal volume

Data from wearables:

  • Weight
  • Oxygen level
  • Blood pressure
  • Activity level

Early intervention starts with getting ahead of problems before they arise — and your IT platform is the perfect tool to help you do that.

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1. Risk indicators for earlier interventions

 

One of the biggest benefits to a patient management platform is its ability to identify patients trending toward problems. Risk indicators can often be set up as real-time notifications that alert you when a patient experiences an irregularity.

 

Whether the issue is nonadherence or an elevated heart rate, these risk indicators allow you and your team to intervene with the appropriate response before the condition worsens.

Patient profile*:

71-year-old male with advanced stage COPD and chronic hypercapnia

Treatment:

Prescribed noninvasive ventilation

Problem:

The patient is experiencing sudden low tidal volume

Reactive approach

 

The patient is admitted to the hospital with severe breathlessness

 

He is given noninvasive ventilation (NIV) during a costly two-day hospital stay

 

He is sent home and instructed to continue use of home NIV

 

Three weeks later he is back in the ED

IT-enabled proactive approach

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Risk indicator: Respiratory therapist (RT) gets an alert through the IT system that the patient is experiencing a sudden low tidal volume
Appropriate action icon
Appropriate action: RT visits the patient in his home and finds a leak in his mask
Results icon
Result: Refitting his mask resolves the issue and the patient’s tidal volume is back in normal range
Takeaway icon
Takeaway: An untreated respiratory issue could have catastrophic consequences for a severely ill patient. The risk indicator alert got him the help he needed without requiring a hospital visit 

2. Patient engagement

 

Keeping patients engaged in their therapy is no easy task. But you can use your patient management platform to aid in your efforts. Interactive apps and wearables give patients a way to get involved in their care while transmitting critical data back to their care team. But when these aren’t enough, you can use your IT system to get their caregivers involved as well.

 

The same way RTs can be alerted when a patient is trending toward non-adherence, their caregivers or family members can be informed too. The intervention of a loved one can get a patient back on track without requiring the involvement of the care team.

Patient profile*:

59-year-old woman with COPD

Treatment:

Supplemental oxyge

Problem:

The patient stopped using her oxygen because it prevents her from gardening

Reactive approach

 

The patient is admitted to the hospital with severe breathlessness

 

She is given oxygen and prescribed pulmonary rehab

 

The underlying problem with her oxygen system is never addressed and she readmits 26 days later

IT-enabled proactive approach

Risk icon
Risk indicator: With real-time data from the patient’s oximeter, the RT is alerted that the patient is experiencing hypoxemia
Appropriate action icon
Appropriate action: RT was able to alert the patient’s daughter to the issue so she could check in and ensure proper oxygen use
Results icon
Result: After realizing the problem, the daughter was able to help her mother get a more portable oxygen system that fits better with her lifestyle
Takeaway icon
Takeaway: In some cases, a family member or caregiver can be a vital unofficial member of your care team when it comes to keeping patients happy and engaged at home   

3. Remote monitoring

 

Telehealth and remote monitoring have helped care teams improve patient outcomes and significantly reduced the cost of care.1 Many home visits used to be centered around checking equipment or replacing devices, not necessarily directly impacting patient care.

 

But now, new technology has enabled tasks that used to require in-person visits to be done via phone, email or video. Not only is this more convenient for patients, it also saves healthcare organizations time and money.

Patient profile*:

64-year-old woman with advanced stage COPD

Treatment:

Uses supplemental oxygen and non-invasive ventilation

Problem:

The ventilator pressure is too high, making it hard for the patient to breathe on the device

Reactive approach

 

Patient stops using the device and is now non-adherent

 

RT calls the patient and learns why she stopped therapy

 

RT drives an hour to the patient’s home to manually adjust the ventilator settings

IT-enabled proactive approach

Risk icon
Risk indicator: RT is notified that the patient has missed two consecutive nights of NIV therapy
Appropriate action icon
Appropriate action: RT calls the patient and learns that she hasn’t been using her ventilator because the titration settings are wrong, which is making it hard to breathe
Results icon
Result: RT is able to remotely adjust the ventilator settings and the patient is able to continue with therapy
Takeaway icon
Takeaway: Remote monitoring enables more efficient patient management and can help care teams rectify problems before they escalate

Getting the most out of your data

 

While there is an endless amount of data within your IT platform, it’s critical to avoid information overload. With a bit of ingenuity, you can make your patient management system work harder for you.

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Start by working with your team internally to determine what is most important to you when managing patients
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Then, partner with your IT vendor to learn more about the best tools for your practice
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Finally, put your new tools to work and experience the efficiencies that come from a robust platform
The days of reacting to problems as they arise are behind us. With today’s technology, you can get ahead of potential pitfalls to proactively manage patients and deliver the best possible care.
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References:

1. American Hospital Association. Telehealth: Helping Hospitals Deliver Cost-Effective Care. American Hospital Association Web site. http://www.aha.org/content/16/16telehealthissuebrief.pdf. Published April 22, 2016. Accessed June 23, 2016.