Collaborating across the continuum of care is becoming increasingly important, a point crystallized by one health care technology company’s rapid growth—and success in bringing together some of the nation’s largest home health and private duty providers, as well as rehabilitation companies and health systems.
That company, PreparedHealth, has recently landed new business, validating its mission to better connect providers from hospital to home through a platform inspired by social media.
A proven success in dramatically reducing readmissions is driving that growth, its executives say.
The Chicago company announced at the end of July that Cherry Hill, New Jersey-based FOX Rehabilitation had joined its growing enTouch Network, PreparedHealth’s flagship offering. Less than two weeks later, PreparedHealth announced that Des Plaines, Illinois-based Crystal Home Health Care had also signed on.
The two recent announcements add to PreparedHealth’s growing list of health system and post-acute clients currently using enTouch. So far, the list includes Centegra Health System, Holy Redeemer, Bayada Home Health Care, Encompass Health (NYSE: EHC), and Homewatch CareGivers, among others.
Regionally, about one-quarter of the post-acute providers operating in the Philadelphia and New Jersey markets are actively using PreparedHealth’s software, Chief Operating Officer Tim Coulter told Home Health Care News.
“enTouch is a very simple communication platform that’s HIPAA-complaint and secure, allowing providers to communicate with one another and do things like send referrals, pass progress notes back and forth,” Coulter said. “We’ve worked to build up some key markets in certain geographies, hoping to connect hospitals to rehab facilities, skilled nursing facilities and home health providers.”
PreparedHealth pulling from Facebook’s playbook
PreparedHealth was launched roughly three years ago by founders Ashish Shah and David Coyle, who, along with Coulter, had previously worked together at population health management company Medicity. Aetna acquired Medicity for $500 million in 2011.
While Medicity was focused on hospital and physician connectivity, PreparedHealth and its enTouch network is largely tuned into the post-acute side of the U.S. health care system, according to Coulter.
Boiled down, enTouch is a digital platform for all levels of post-acute providers to message and share critical information related to patient care. In many ways, the platform was built to mimic popular social media networks that most people already felt comfortable using.
In fact, it’s a lot like Facebook or LinkedIn for health care, Coulter said. That includes a real-time feed the displays newsworthy updates.
“When you’re discharged out of the hospital, how do you make sure everything gets coordinated? How do you make sure all the services get connected from leaving the hospital to going back home?” he said. “We didn’t see a good network that existed to kind of connect all those providers because people were focused on different types of micro-networks and not really connecting the whole experience.”
The enTouch platform has two basic functionalities. Its care transitions features allows post-acute providers to stay in touch and send referrals back and forth when needed, while its care coordination capabilities help case workers and managers rally around a patient’s plan of care to achieve good outcomes.
The enTouch Network is accessible via mobile devices and desktop; it’s available for download for both Apple and Android devices. Providers pay a flat fee for enTouch, with costs ranging from about $300 per month for a home health company to higher, custom prices for hospitals.
“We set up your organization on enTouch very quickly, get your users provisioned so you can start inviting your partners and see the existing network in your area,” Coulter said. “We’re really trying to serve the whole continuum.”
In addition to its enTouch platform, PreparedHealth also sells a predictive modeling tool called DiNA that helps providers identify intervention points in caring for patients.
Reducing hospital readmissions
FOX Rehabilitation is a primarily clinician-owned-and-operated private practice of full-time physical, occupational and speech therapists. The company specializes in providing care for older adults with multiple chronic conditions in their homes. With more than 1,300 employees, FOX Rehabilitation provides house calls to seniors in a total of 16 states.
Crystal Home Health Care provides skilled nursing, therapy and wound care services to patients living in the Chicago area and surrounding Illinois counties. A sister company, Crystal Home Care, offers private-duty services focused on activities of daily living.
“We are looking forward to being part of the enTouch platform to help with overall communication from our office staff to referring sources,” Raj Pillai, Crystal Home Health Care managing partner, told HHCN. “It is important to us in providing quality care and continuity of services by working in collaboration with the patient’s health care team.”
Crystal Home Health Care is still in the early stages of joining and leveraging PreparedHealth’s enTouch Network, though it eventually plans on using the platform across all levels of care and services, Pillai said.
The home health agency currently conducts most of its communications over the phone and through fax, he said. Specifically, Crystal Home Health Care is hoping enTouch will help the agency when it comes to preventing hospital readmissions.
“We find being able to share information via this platform will help high-risk patients [and] reduce readmissions,” Pillai said. “enTouch allows time-stamped documentation and continued communication with referral sources through the transition process from one level of care to the next—and ultimately upon final discharge.”
Case studies conducted by PreparedHealth have found that home health providers using enTouch can slash readmission rates for congestive heart failure patients, a group known to have particular high readmission rates, by nearly 30%. About four out of every 10 patients with heart failure are readmitted within six months of initial hospitalization.
Prepared Health case studies have highlighted similar success in reducing hospital readmissions for skilled nursing facilities and hospitals as well.
“We’ve seen some really positive results,” Coulter said. “And a lot of that is just about situational awareness and being able to know what’s going on in the home.”
FOX Rehabilitation, meanwhile, has started to roll out the enTouch platform to its New Jersey and Pennsylvania field teams, Yong Kim, the company’s vice president of strategic partnerships, told HHCN.
“We have existing provider partners requesting to create internal work flows to be able to receive and accept referrals,” Kim said. “Since our formal launch a few weeks ago, we’ve gained a high level of interest from existing and new partners.”
Putting a premium on cross-continuum collaboration
Tightening communication channels is becoming ever more important for post-acute providers.
Bundled payment programs and other alternative payment models have put a premium on cross-continuum collaboration, tying financial incentives to how well providers can work together.
Additionally, the growth of Medicare Advantage means that more of these insurers are also looking to work closely with networks of post-acute providers. These payers want sophisticated communication and data capture capabilities from their provider networks.
Pending changes from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Patient-Driven Groupings Model may result in agencies treating nursing patients with higher levels of acuity and shifting away from therapy services.
“We always have concerns about any CMS changes within our continuum for ourselves and other providers,” Kim said. “Health care is becoming an ecosystem where changes are very impactful. Just at face value, I can only assume Part A providers will be potentially encouraged by CMS to provide less therapy.”
PDGM could mean that Fox and other Part B providers will be treating clients with a higher level of acuity, he added.
Written by Robert Holly