How Home Health Could Sync Better with Other Providers

The state of Vermont has aimed to reduce gaps across health care providers by adopting and subsidizing a technology program that enables real-time communication that follow patients as they enter different care settings. Providers not communicating across care settings is one of the biggest issues of an evolving health care system that increasingly rewards care coordination. 

Vermont has partnered with PatientPing and Vermont Information Technology Leaders (VITL) for a state-wide adoption of a program that enables health care providers to follow their patients if they are admitted into another care setting via a “ping.” PatientPing is a Boston-based health technology company with a nationwide community of more than 12,000 health care providers in five states. The program is one of the first of its kind to connect providers universally across an entire state. 

“If you’re a home health agency nurse and your patient gets admitted to the hospital or shows up at the emergency room or transitions to a skilled nursing facility, we will notify them about that in real time,” PatientPing Founder and CEO Jay Desai told Home Health Care News. “The nurse can work with that provider and ensure the patient gets the best possible care.”

The system replaces the current inefficient methods that different care settings utilize to talk with one another. 

“The current status quo [of care coordination across providers] is a hodgepodge of emails, texts, fax and phone calls,” Desai said. “In fact, they are probably a pretty sophisticated provider if they are using text and email.”

The ping notifications follow a patient’s movement when they travel across the care continuum and can be viewed and accessed in a few different ways. VITL, a 501c3 non-profit organization that advances health care reform efforts in Vermont, is a vital part of the equation. Having already been working in Vermont for the last decade, VITL already connects to the state’s hospitals and numerous providers to share health information. 

“Our role is to connect all of the disparate clinical data in the health care system out there and make sure providers have the information that they need,” Robert Gibson, vice president of marketing and business development at VITL, told HHCN. “We already had a lot of the infrastructure in place. We had connectivity to a lot of the electronic health record systems in Vermont. It was natural for us to play the role of providing data to do the alerts.”

The infrastructure already in place was originally designed to enhance information from health care providers and is now being used as a tool to enable the state’s community of providers to stay in touch. PatientPing is also working with accountable care organizations (ACOs) in the state to outfit the tool to as many providers as possible. 

The connections that the program makes could also potentially enable more care to take place in home settings, according to Desai. When hospitals and other acute care settings are discharging patients, connecting with a home care agency or other provider that will handle the transition helps reduce readmissions risks.

“We do know for sure that timely notification of patients getting admitted and being discharged anywhere to the full care team [?], having that care team work together reduces the risk of hospitalization,” Desai said. “It can also reduce the amount of time that a patient is in a rehabilitation facility. By going home with home supports, home care in particular, the patients can get that care in a much lower cost environment and ensure that they are not going back to the hospital.”

With the rollout across Vermont already on the ground, PatientPing is still collecting data on readmission rates. As part of the partnership, Vermont has agreed to subsidize 70% of the service for providers who want the technology, accordion got Desai. While the Green Mountain State is on the forefront of adopting a universal care coordination technology, others are likely to follow suit.

“Vermont is a very innovative state,” Desai said. “We’re talking to a number of other states to replicate the same sort of effect.”

The three-way partnership between a state entity, a technology business and a non-profit organization that straddles public and private lines is leveraging information that was already available and pushing it to become more useful.

“Right now, there is not really a great standard around the country, and that’s a problem,” Desai said. “The last thing we want is for a provider to have to make it really difficult to log into multiple systems and deal with that.”

Written by Amy Baxter