New patient monitoring technology targets readmissions

Monday, 13 February, 2017

New patient monitoring technology targets readmissions

A mobile patient monitoring system — which was last week selected as only one of 25 digital health and medical technologies in the world to be fast-tracked into the lucrative US market — is set to be released in Australia.

Developed by Adelaide-based tech company Personify Care, the easy-to-use software system allows nurses, specialist practices and hospitals to detect when a recently discharged surgical patient is at risk of a complication and intervene before their condition (and associated cost) escalates.

Extensive evaluation of the platform through pilot studies at South Australia’s St Andrew’s Hospital and surgical practices in Adelaide since 2015 has found:

  • Patients are monitored eight times more often.
  • Early detection of clinical risks. (In clinical evaluations, clinical teams reported the system led to the early detection of risks in 20% of cases.)
  • No increase in workload for surgical and nursing staff.
  • 96% patient response rate.
  • 95% of patients satisfied or very satisfied with their experience.
  • 86% of patients reported feeling better supported in their recovery after being discharged from hospital as a result of having access to the service.

Results of the trials were presented last year at the Royal Australian College of Surgeons Annual Scientific Meeting and the Health Informatics Society of Australia national conference.

St Andrew’s Hospital has now announced a hospital-wide rollout of Personify Care’s platform in collaboration with Bupa, for patients across all surgical procedures.

St Andrew’s CEO, Stephen Walker, said the hospital was delighted to be rolling out the Personify Care service in collaboration with Bupa across all specialty areas.

“Our experience has been that by using the Personify Care platform we have been able to improve patients’ experience of care, identify potential risks early and more effectively target interventions if required,” he said.

Meanwhile, last week the Houston-based Innovation Institute of the Texas Medical Centre (TMC) — one of the world’s largest medical centres — announced it would help accelerate the launch of Personify Care’s platform into the lucrative US market.

TMC consists of 54 medicine-related institutions including 21 hospitals, eight specialty institutions, eight academic and research institutions, four medical schools, seven nursing schools, three public health organisations, two pharmacy schools and a dental school. More than eight million patients present annually at TMC and a surgery is performed every three minutes.

The TMC Innovation Institute’s TMCx accelerator program — which Personify Care has been selected to participate in — pairs the resources of the medical centre with the innovative horsepower of entrepreneurs working in the areas of digital health and medical devices.

“We have had our sights on the US market from the very beginning, so this is a significant step for us,” said Personify Care’s CEO, Ken Saman.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the concept was formed following a hospital stay.

“I was being driven home after my second ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) knee reconstruction and frustration was my overriding experience.

“Despite having been through it before, I was having trouble recalling some basic information I’d been given during my hospital stay. I’d been bombarded with well-meaning advice, but the questions I wanted answered only seemed to come to mind after I was discharged.”

That was when Saman first started to wonder if there wasn’t a better way of supporting patients after a hospital stay.

Saman’s early career was spent working with Motorola in Australia, Germany and the US developing mobile phone software. He later spent seven years leading Engineering and Account Management for YourAmigo, a high-growth tech company which became a leader in the e-commerce space deployed in over 30 different countries for many of the world’s top 100 e-commerce companies.

At Personify Care, Saman worked with technology veteran Ivan Peevski to explore how some of what he’d learnt in the e-commerce world could make it easier for patients to manage their recovery and allow clinicians to spend more of their time caring for their patients. He also set about building a team supported by an experienced clinical advisory board and strategic advisors from the US and Australia.

“In Australia, over 6500 surgeries are performed every day. Research has shown that patients only recall about 25% of what they’re told as they’re leaving hospital. We also know that nurse-led follow-up can reduce hospital readmissions by 23%. The problem is that most patients don’t get the follow-up they need because we’re still using paper forms and phone calls to deliver these protocols.

“Meanwhile, patients are being discharged earlier as hospitals reduce the length of stay; and hospitals are becoming increasingly accountable for complications or readmissions in the weeks after a surgery.”

With the Personify Care system, discharged patients receive regular text messages from their nurse over a 6- to 8-week period with information about their recovery and assessments that monitor the risks associated with a complication.

“Patients get information when they need it most and are called with advice if their recovery isn’t as expected. Patients are reporting their pain levels, rating their experience and sharing images of their wound for the clinical team to review,” Saman said.

But the company’s vision goes beyond a more efficient experience of healthcare.

“As we start to track protocols against health outcomes, we’ll be in a position to start to identify the key drivers for better health outcomes, such as improved survival rates or reduced complications. In time we’d like to provide clinicians with the data to better inform clinical best practice.

“We don’t believe in a healthcare future where technology replaces the patient–doctor relationship — but we do believe that technology can free up valuable time so that patients get the care they need when they need it most,” Saman said.

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