As home-based care patients become more complex, providers are finding ways to ensure that clinicians don’t feel alone.
Specifically, providers have started to use data to solve those challenges, especially through decision support tools that improve work patterns.
“These patients, when in the hospital, were on a floor with every specialist and every diagnostic 48 hours ago,” Jeffrey Sommer, chief quality officer and VP of clinical innovation at VNA Health Group, said at the National Association for Home Care & Hospice’s (NAHC) annual conference last month. “Now they’re at home with one of our nurses. How do we create a supporting ecosystem for [our nurses] to be able to leverage technology so that they can make good decisions for a patient’s care plan?”
Based in Holmdel, New Jersey, VNA Health Group is a provider of home health, hospice and palliative care services. The nonprofit serves patients in New Jersey and Ohio.
In 2015, VNA created the Connected Health Institute, which included projects focused on data collection, aggregation and reporting. Even back then, there was a need to leverage data in a way that went beyond collecting it for collection’s sake.
As patients have become more complex, that need has only grown.
To manage complex patients in a more controlled environment — at scale — VNA Health Group has leveraged technology to facilitate and expedite clinical decision-making and has used data that had otherwise been “trapped” in the reporting phases of documentation.
The second layer of the new strategy was simple: get everyone involved and on the same page.
“We really needed to align all of our clinical reasoning with all the experts we have on staff,” Sommer said. “We need to help create less spaces for our experts to find this information. The last piece, which I think is really important, is that our system is built by clinicians for the patients and for themselves.”
The results have been promising.
For its wound care patients, managed pressure injuries healed at a 34% greater rate in 2022 compared to 2018. Length of stay for stage 3 PI decreased by 27% compared to levels in 2019.
As the average time to review wound care patients has gone down, revenue for VNA has gone up.
“By finding things that aren’t as easy to get at without poking around your EMR system, we were able to integrate this new system into our at-home wound care program,” Renee Coughlin, VP of Service Development and COO at VNA Ohio, said. “Now we’re looking at different ways in how we can evolve this system even further.”