by Audrey Kinsella

The first-time joint healthcare innovation presentation of the Alliance of Personal Health and Partners Connected Health will combine its findings to ignite many presentations at Partners’ Health “Connected Health Symposium” which will take place in Boston October 24-28. Once again this year, HCTR is sending this reporter to the symposium to find new ideas and technologies for improving care of patients living at home.  This year’s symposium is expected to provide more of the same high level of enlightenment.

This year’s event, titled “The Connected Health Journey: Shaping Health and Wellness for Every Generation,” promises to offer a broader focus. Program chair Joe Kvedar, MD, will open the conference with a keynote titled “The New Mobile Age.“ In it, he will focus on clinicians’ and patients’ use of new connected health technologies that will help us to re-imagine how we think about health as we age.  At Partners, Dr. Kvedar is creating a new model of healthcare delivery, developing innovative strategies to move care from the hospital or doctor’s office into the day-to-day lives of patients — at home and on the move.
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To “re-imagine” how we think about health as we age, we need to actively use healthcare technologies to “enable older adults to better maintain their chronic conditions and remain vital, engaged, and independent contributors to their worlds. [A view is presented on different focuses of this year’s and last year’s symposium speakers on their views about “disrupting aging” and this year’s focus on using healthcare technologies to help make them be vital and engaged contributors to their worlds.]

Last year’s conference keynoter, then CEO of AARP JoAnn Jenkins, presented a rousing call to “disrupt aging” by thinking much differently about aging seniors as being much more vital than “old folks planted in rocking chairs.” This year, Kvedar will go a step further by discussing how to engage elders in new healthcare technologies. Other conference presentations will focus on placing at center stage patients’ health activities and responses to their care. Several talks indicating this patient-centered focus will be:

“Patient Wisdom: improving health and care by listening;” “Transforming Healthcare Through Patient Engagement;”  and “Creating an Innovation Ecosystem to Disrupt Healthcare from Within” (Partners Connected Health Innovation Challenge, CHIC)  Clearly, attendees will be learning what needs to done to improve today’s patient care and, in the Partners Connected Health example, finding out which tools and responses “work.”

A very long first day of back-to-back presentations may seem overwhelming and it usually is. To provide some personal comfort, I attend many of these talks thinking I already know something of their focuses–elder healthcare and telehealth or new technologies’ use with tracking and managing burgeoning cases of chronic diseases, and so after attending 10 straight hours of talks. I will not have to concentrate as intently.  But I’m always surprised at the new and telling takes of each presenter at each year’s Partners Health symposium and I fully expect experiencing  the same reaction to this year’s talks, findings of which I will share with HCTR readers in the next few months.

One talk that I have my eye on and have great expectations about is this, near the end of the first very full day, which is part of the block of talks titled: “Next Generation Patient & Provider Engagement.”  This keynote talk presented by Jonathan Ballon–Intel VP  and GM of Internet of Things (IoT)  at Intel and is titled, “Remote Care, Right Now: In Pursuit of a New Standard of Care.”  I can only guess what comfort zone goals we’ll be expected to disrupt and change for the better in healthcare services delivery as a result of learning new ideas to implement from this talk.

Audrey Kinsella, MA, MS, is HCTR’s telemedicine reporter. She has written on home telehealthcare and new technologies for home care service delivery for 20 years, in 6 books, multiple web sites, and more than 150 published articles. Audrey can be reached at audreyk3@charter.net or 828-348-5308.

©2017 by Rowan Consulting Associates, Inc., Colorado Springs, CO. All rights reserved. This article originally appeared in Tim Rowan’s Home Care Technology Report.homecaretechreport.com One copy may be printed for personal use; further reproduction by permission only. editor@homecaretechreport.com

by Tim Rowan

In the past year, Great Lakes Caring, the largest healthcare at home and hospice provider in the state of Michigan, has significantly reduced its number of 7-day hospice stays while increasing its number of stays lasting 14 days or more. CEO William Deary attributes this change to a new software tool implemented in mid-2014. The agency’s corresponding uptick in revenue and cash flow has more than paid for the cost of the new system. (more…)

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by Tim Rowan

On July 31, 2015, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued a final rule (CMS-1629-F) that updates fiscal year 2016 Medicare payment rates and the wage index for hospices serving Medicare beneficiaries. For convenience, we reprint the official CMS summary of the final rule in the sidebar at the bottom of this page. Visit the CMS Website for a copy of the complete, 221-page, final rule.

To help understand how hospices will be impacted by the new payment system, we spoke with 20-year hospice veteran and consultant Coleen Rogers, RN, BS, CHPN. (more…)

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It is quite possible that nothing like this has ever happened before.

Gentiva Home Healthcare, one of the largest agencies in the nation, rolled out a new clinical point-of-care software system to all 264 branches in 10 weeks. Even more remarkable, from the project’s beginning in September through today, the organization has experienced no productivity decline. (more…)

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One thoughtless moment, one normally careful driver, one urgent text message, one quick reply…at 65 miles per hour. Car crash to lawsuit to bankruptcy, not for the driver but for his employer. Yes, there was a policy but it wasn’t enough. If only there were some technology to keep employees from texting while driving. We finally found one. (more…)

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Phil Chuang, PhD, FHIMSS is the CIO for Sutter VNA and Hospice, a Northern California not-for-profit affiliated with Sutter Health System. Edward Elliott is the agency’s Technical Services Manager. Like many in their positions, they learned more than they thought they would during the process of implementing a clinical point-of-care system across multiple branches. The duo shared those real-world insights with a SRO audience at this week’s HIMSS meeting in a presentation entitled “EHR To Go: Opportunities and Challenges of Mobile EHR Deployment.” (more…)

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Like many in their age group, my parents, at 91 and 87, still live in the house they bought shortly after they married. Though the fact of that is not constantly front and center in my awareness, its significance hit me squarely between the eyes earlier this year when I visited my childhood home for a few days to give my mother, Dad’s primary caregiver, a few days off.

As I helped Dad navigate his morning routine — bed to walker to bathroom to walker to the table in the extended kitchen he built with his own hands — the bathroom, admittedly an odd place for deep meaning to present itself, spoke to me. Modern cabinets and fixtures faded from my view as 50s-era linoleum and sinks took their place and the shadowy figure of a very familiar-looking little boy appeared, perched on an antique training seat atop the toilet.

Shaking off the vision, I removed a soiled pair of the “special pants” we had to force on Dad last year and replaced them with clean ones. As I guided his halting footsteps toward the commode, the boy said, “He used to do the exact same thing for you in this very room.”

The realization transcended mere memories of the days when Dad was big and I was small. It was more important than that. Here I was, caring for my frail, incontinent father, not just in any bathroom but in sacred space, the very room where he had cared for me, given me baths, bandaged my knees and taught me to shave.

Dad does not often speak today and, this time, it was just as well. If he noticed the redness that was surely visible in my eyes, the redness that returns as I write this, he did not mention it.

Dad’s legs barely hold him up today, partly from age, partly from living 68 years with some kind of primitive cement-based compound that was inserted in his right shin in 1943 to replace a 4-inch piece of bone that had been shattered by a sniper’s tracer bullet. According to a hometown Pennsylvania newspaper at the time, he had apparently run screaming and waving his arms down a Belgian hillside to draw the sniper from his nest, where the sniper was holding a company of G.I.s at bay. The small band of brothers did finally take the town; one small, forgotten component of the Allies’ victory at the Battle of the Bulge. “My buddy got the guy who shot me,” was the legend I grew up with.

His actual brothers once pointed out to me a three-story Pennsylvania house where they had lived, three-to-a-bed, during the Great Depression, apparently anxious to ensure I knew my heritage fell somewhere between courageous and nuts. “Your father used to do handstands on the top of that chimney,” they claimed. It was not fraternal joking. The story turned out to be true; they just couldn’t remember the name of the girl he was trying to impress.

These are the kinds of memories that make tolerable the work of the family caregiver, a person continually aware, “This is a human being who, though approaching the end, was once young and self-sufficient, a breadwinner and parent, who coached Little League and met his life partner at a square dance, who was capable only a couple years ago of cradling his great-grandchild in his arms.”

Certainly, family caregivers work hard and grow weary, sometimes short-tempered. Yes, they often compromise their own health by putting someone else’s health needs first. Of course, they save the Medicare Trust Fund millions, perhaps billions, of dollars every year. I have written about the financial boon family caregivers offer the U.S. taxpayer as a news item in the pages of this publication but, I have learned through experience, saving Medicare money is secondary to the family caregiver’s experience.

What is primary is that ever-present awareness, “This shrinking body and slowing mind are not the full story of who this person is.” It would be a great gift if family caregivers could put across the full story to those who meet him at age 90 for the first time, people such as home health nurses, therapists and aides.

Family caregivers do not see a 90-pound 90-year-old, they see the soldier, the square dancer, the Little League coach. Whether dressing him or cleaning him or reminding him of his grandchildren’s names, there is no moment when the feats and legends of his youth are not vividly present, living not only in what is left of him but in the people who inhabited the house he built and made sacred by more than 60 years of memory-making.

Every time I walk him from the bathroom to the kitchen, I steal a look over my shoulder at the otherwise ordinary suburban bathroom. A little boy smiles up from his comic book at me and says, “Take good care of him. He’s my Daddy.”

Tim Rowan
December 7, 2011

Jan Erickson was a volunteer caregiver. Answering her church’s call to be of service to the elderly and infirm, she worked with a number of women, one of whom broke her heart before inspiring her to dream, literally. That dream became a specialty clothing company with which home health care and hospice nurses and therapists need to be acquainted. (more…)

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by Trisha Tulloch, RN, BSN, MSN, HCS-D

TRISH TULLOCH

TRISH TULLOCH

In the summer of 2008, we at RBC Limited were privileged to work with two home health demonstration agencies participating with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and Abt Associates to field test the revised OASIS-C. Since that time we have supported dozens of agencies in their transition planning to OASIS-C through leadership, staff education and competencies. To help you plan and refine your agency’s transition processes to ensure success in 2010, this column shares some “Lessons Learned” from those experiences. (more…)