Collaboration key in realising telehealth potential

Philips Australia & New Zealand
Friday, 03 February, 2017


One of the biggest opportunities currently facing the Australian healthcare sector is to develop a more sustainable approach to population health management; optimising available public funding and care outcomes for the patient.

The pressures on the current system mean we need to respond to industry challenges innovatively; the key to which will be industry wide collaboration. As a nation we have the opportunity to lead the industry towards a more sustainable future.

Philips has recognised the need to rethink this approach together with industry to ensure a future of high quality, accessible, and practical care. In 2016, together with West Moreton Hospital and Health Service, Philips launched MeCare.

MeCare is a personalised, connected health management program designed to revolutionise care for chronically ill patients. The technology links care teams — whether they be in the hospital or wider community — remotely monitoring patients and encouraging them to proactively engage in managing their own health.

The program aims to improve the health and quality of life for high-needs patients from the West Moreton community, while providing significant economic benefits to the hospital and health system. Directly tackling the challenges of needing to improve patient self-management, delivering treatment closer to home, meeting the needs of an ageing population and rebalancing increasing pressure on the hospital system, the MeCare program is transforming the delivery of care through the support of connected technology.

The MeCare program is a revolutionary step in shifting focus from reactive to proactive care of these high-needs patients. This solution demonstrates reduced reliance on hospital-based inpatient, outpatient and emergency services when it comes to chronic care; improving patient quality of life, operational efficiency and system sustainability by redressing the financial implications of managing these patients within the hospital system. The potential in the MeCare model to not only amend an unsustainable health system, but also improve patient outcomes, could have pronounced implications industry-wide.

By delivering proactive, continuous and integrated care, the MeCare program is designed to support Australians with complex chronic illness. For many of these patients the delivery of care is largely episodic. They become ill, they go to the GP, and they go to hospital where they are treated and discharged after some time. Until they next present to the GP or hospital, there’s little follow up or coordinated care to ultimately prevent these patients from further hospital admissions.

MeCare is highly personalised with health management plans specifically tailored to each patient’s current behaviours. A patient receives the Philips eCareCompanion, an easy-to-use telehealth app that patients access on a secure tablet at home, and a range of monitoring devices such as a blood pressure monitor, a pulse oximeter and a weight scale. With just a few simple steps, a patient’s vital information is captured wirelessly and transmitted to their care team for review. They can also answer survey questions, receive reminders about their care plan and connect to their care team via a video call.

With this program in place, West Moreton Hospital and Health Service and the extended community are able to make more timely care decisions and intervene earlier, leading to fewer hospitalisations and enhanced patient self-care. The participants will be cared for in the community by a multi-disciplinary team that includes their family/carer, GP, specialists, allied health professionals and social and community support services, reducing their reliance on hospital inpatient and emergency services.

The WMHHS MeCare Program is underpinned by the Philips population health management solution, Integrated Tailored Ambulatory Care (ITAC). The solution runs on Philips’ enterprise telehealth platform eCareCoordinator, which is built on the Philips HealthSuite digital platform, a secured cloud-based platform of services, capabilities and tools used to create the next generation of connected health and wellness innovations. The platform has clinical decision support tooling and incorporates deterioration algorithms to predict patient deterioration. The eCareCoordinator platform prioritises populations so clinicians can identify and provide care to the patients most at risk for readmission, provides structure for cross-team collaboration and delivers extended reporting so program effectiveness can be measured and continuously improved.

The partnership between Philips and West Moreton Hospital and Health Service is an example of the promise of innovative collaboration in the healthcare space. The MeCare program is proof of the potential to not only improve the lives of patients with chronically ill health, but also embed connected care across the entire health systems enterprise, revolutionising the industry and promising a sustainable solution for the future of Australian healthcare.

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