At HIMSS18, Validic CEO Drew Schiller joined Kelly Santomas, senior director of Programs and Operations at Partners HealthCare, and Emily Mitchell, senior manager at Accenture Federal Services (AFS) in a panel discussing the continued growth in the usage of patient-generated health data in clinical settings.

Patient Experience in Submitting PGHD

Throughout the panel, the leaders focused heavily on the impact that the use of PGHD and remote care has on the patient experience. Santomas mentioned that a major challenge for her team, and one they continue to keep in mind as their programs grow and evolve, is proper communication between care teams and patients. “Just getting [the program] out there and making sure people are aware that it’s out there, that it’s available for them to use, and that we’re here to support them as well,” is crucial, said Santomas. As a result, they work with a multi-pronged communication strategy to ensure that patients, providers and employees are all aware of the programs and the benefits their participation can offer.

Mitchell agreed with the importance of communication to enhance information sharing, both with patients and providers. “When we started doing the early industry outreach for the project, the feedback was clinicians don’t want this. But [as we as an industry] are recognizing the importance of patient self-care and patient empowerment, we can help educate them and enable them to take better care of themselves. And in turn, clinicians will be able to treat patients more effectively and efficiently,” said Mitchell.

Device Management Best Practices

Device management and security was also a hot topic. Santomas mentioned that the initial uplift of these programs can be difficult for health systems, who may not have the IT capabilities to develop expansive device connectivity, along with program dashboards and systems for their teams and patients. “When we looked at how we were going to pull all of this together [to support the enterprise-wide program], we recognized the challenge. We are a hospital, we’re into healthcare; we’re not developers,” she said. For this reason, Partners chose to work with Validic to support the device connectivity for their program so that they could offer more of a BYOD approach. “We wanted to give the choice back to the patient and the provider, where they hadn’t done that before,” said Santomas.

Likewise, Schiller mentioned that growing this device connectivity can often be the biggest challenge for health systems when attempting to develop even a small-scale remote care program. “People ask: why can’t a health system plug in to all of these [remote monitoring] devices on their own? Why do they need Validic? Let us take something as simple as Bluetooth,” he said. “Even with the implementation of Bluetooth devices, very few device manufacturers implement Bluetooth standards as is. The have their own protocols and security to create a proprietary experience. It’s not as simple as it seems.”

For this reason, Validic continues to provide expansive data connectivity to over 400 in-home medical devices and wearables – with a single connection, health systems can plug into various devices to help better connect their remote care programs.

Implementation of PGHD

During the panel, the three also discussed their personal experience in working with PGHD in a clinical setting and how to overcome barriers to its integration. Though many organizations see the value of said data collected outside the hospital setting, many leaders have concerns with the best way to safely, efficiently, and effectively incorporate PGHD into existing workflows to make the data actionable.

At Partners, Santomas explained how the organization launched their program as an enterprise-wide system. They focused on making a program that would not offer a one-size-fits-all approach, but one that could be flexible for various populations and use cases. They recently completed EHR integration of the programs and are continuing to evolve the programs to expand to more patients and ensure the efficacy of programs.

More specifically, Santomas explained how the use of a care team model for these remote programs of care has impacted patient outcomes. Having a team that works together based on protocol to support the patients, alongside the physicians and patients themselves, has already shown significant success in one of their hypertension clinics, she says.

“One surprise was how many physicians actually want to embrace it and want to do it, and are really interested in it and making that connection with their patients and managing that care a little better,” said Santomas on their implementation. For many teams at Partners, there is support across the board for the positive impact that remote care can have on patients.

AFS, on behalf of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC), recently published a white paper reporting on their research on the capture and use of PGHD. This included two pilot demonstrations which incorporated PGHD into a program of care. One of these pilot demonstrations was led by Validic and Sutter Health, which led 30 patients suffering from type II diabetes in a remote care program which collected their remotely-generated data on a near real-time basis from glucometers, connected weight scales, blood pressure meters, and activity trackers.

“What excites me is the impact we’re able to have is much, much quicker in these small programs,” Schiller said on the effects seen in the patient population in the Validic-Sutter pilot. Patients reported an improved quality of life, lowered a1c levels and better engagement and empowerment in their own health.

PGHD in Remote Care

The panelists made it clear: incorporating PGHD into remote programs of care is improving outcomes for patients everywhere and making care delivery more efficient. These programs have shown that they can lower readmission rates, relieve some of the burden on physicians, and improve patient engagement and outcomes, among numerous other benefits. It’s important to implement a program that works for your organization and can be flexible enough to accommodate various patients, populations, or disease states down the line. Most importantly, enterprise-wide understanding and buy-in are crucial to success of these programs, which are already improving lives for patients with chronic conditions across the country today.

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