In the News: Apr 30–May 7

Digital Solutions to Reduce Unnecessary ED Visits

A recent Healthcare IT News article highlights positive results associated with the implementation of a digital health solution in a high-risk patient population. The Alliance for Integrated Care of New York (AICNY) oversees the health care needs of approximately 6,000 dual eligible Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries with developmental disabilities. Data collected from AICNY’s accountable care organization (ACO) revealed that among this population were high rates of ED utilization and correlated inpatient admissions. The proposed solution involved the implementation of on-site kiosks at resident group homes to better triage patients through a web-based connection to ED staff.

Adoption of the tele-triage kiosks offered impressive results, reducing expenditures and improving quality of care. In 2018, AICNY inpatient expenditures were reduced by 6%, and ED visits dropped by 11%. Data also suggest that almost 80% of the time, patients did not need to go to the ED following their engagement with the telemedicine kiosk. Telemedicine kiosk usage also improved continuity of care, with details from the health episode recorded in EMRs and a population health management platform and later communicated to the patient’s primary physician.

As health systems across the country struggle to manage overcrowded EDs, and pressure around staff shortages builds, the need for innovative approaches increases. Many health systems have sought to solve capacity and workforce shortages with the adoption of digital solutions, such as remote patient monitoring usage to improve care in the ED. To learn more about the innovative digital solutions being used in the ED, please read the Sg2 Virtual Health Newsletter Health Systems Utilize Virtual Health to Reduce ED Wait Times.

Liquid Biopsy Used to Identify Previously Undetected Cancers

A recent Forbes article discusses data from phase one of a study conducted by blood-based cancer screening company Thrive Earlier Detection Corp and Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center. The test developed by Thrive leverages liquid biopsy to detect tumor DNA within the bloodstream. The results of these biopsies can be used as early indicators of cancer, aligning with the study goals of finding early stage cancer through blood draws.

The research team found 26 new cancers across 9,000 women who had no previous history or symptoms of cancer. While this method identifies key indicators that cancer may be present via blood test, it does not detect where in the body the potential cancer may be located. However, the test combined with a scan had a 99.6% specificity, suggesting the liquid biopsy test should be done in combination with, rather than in place of, regular cancer screenings.

Traditional needle biopsies for solid tumors can be quite costly for the health care system, as well as an overall unpleasant experience for patients. Alternatively, liquid biopsies are not only convenient for patients, but they are also reliable and repeatable, which makes them flexible enough to play a role at every point of the cancer pathway from the risk assessment to monitoring for recurrence. To learn more about adopting liquid biopsy tests and how this new technology may impact cancer care delivery, please read the Sg2 FAQ  Liquid Biopsy Tests for Cancer Move Into the Mainstream.

Health Care Facilities Prepare to Resume Elective Surgery

A recent Medical Economics article dives into restarting elective procedures amidst the COVID-19 outbreak. As cases begin to peak in many areas of the US, plans are being made to start reducing some of the restrictions imposed to help minimize the spread of the virus. At the forefront of these discussions is not only when health systems can resume elective surgeries, but also how to assure elective surgery patients that it is safe to undergo these procedures again.

An important consideration for health systems restarting elective procedures is getting the perspective of elective surgery patients and their families when it comes to planning, delivering and evaluating their care to ensure patients and caregivers have all the information they need to reduce anxiety and feel safe. Having a comprehensive plan that addresses surgery location, testing and infection prevention, as well as patient/family perspectives, can help build patient trust and open up honest communication and shared decision-making that is important now—and will continue to be post–COVID-19.

COVID-19 has the potential to radically transform health care consumer purchasing patterns moving forward—concerns about infection risk and ability to pay for care won’t disappear with COVID-19 case declines. Thus, system strategy and marketing teams must now begin rethinking longstanding approaches to attracting and retaining patients. Please read the Sg2 Expert Insight Engaging the (Post–COVID-19) Health Care Consumer to learn how to view traditional consumer engagement through a news lens and pivot strategy to help speed business recovery.

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