GetWell Network Puts New Spin On Patient Engagement

GetWell Network's patient engagement pathways are helping organizations achieve substantial drops in readmission rates and rises in Hospital Care Access Program scores.

Michelle McNickle, Associate Editor of InformationWeek Healthcare

January 14, 2013

4 Min Read

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Through the use of interactive patient care technology, Maryland-based GetWell Network aims to boost patient engagement across the country, a much-needed asset for hospitals and medical practices trying to meet Meaningful Use Stage 2 regs. The vendor points to provider organizations that have already seen drops in readmission rates and rises in quality and safety scores using their tools.

The company functions on the premise that "a more active, engaged patient is a better patient who will have better outcomes if we find a way to hardwire patient involvement in their care," said GetWell Network's founder and CEO Michael O'Neil in an interview with InformationWeek Healthcare. About 10 years ago, O'Neil was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and after surgery and four cycles of chemotherapy, O'Neil was cancer-free but had mixed feelings about his experience with the care process.

"Throughout our journey, [my family and I] felt like we were on the outside looking in; care was being done to us as opposed to care being done with us. So we began researching and writing about this new concept of interactive patient care."

From there, O'Neil launched GetWell Network, which focuses on building solutions and deploying them alongside provider partners. The technology, O'Neil said, is aimed at incorporating patient engagement into the care process and then measuring outcomes. "The most important thing about the technology is the workflow engine we developed called Patient Pathways," O'Neil said. These pathways, O'Neil explained, integrate into various steps of a patient's care process and are designed based on third-party metrics providers are required to do well with in regard to both value-based purchasing and Meaningful Use.

There are about 30 pathways available through GetWell Network. The company's discharge pathway, for instance, was designed to help providers and patients better prepare prior to a patient leaving the hospital. GetWell Network integrates into an organization's EMR, and after gaining access to a patient's data, alerts him a day or two before his discharge date. The technology works through the patient's television and allows GetWell Network to overlap content, like how to schedule a follow-up appointment, on top of television programs.

[ For the latest development on Meaningful Use, see Meaningful Use Stage 2 Rules Finalized. ]

"We begin to get the patient involved," said O'Neil. "And as the patient becomes engaged in the platform, we push that data back into the EMR." The technology also alerts clinicians when a patient isn't far enough along in the discharge process, allowing a clinician or nurse to help with the process if need be.

"We use a series of these workflows around specific outcome areas to drive the lowering of costs and the improvement of quality and service," O'Neil said. GetWell Network worked with Banner Health's Cardon Children's Medical Center in Mesa, Ariz. to develop a pediatric asthma care program using a similar discharge pathway. The plan involves four phases of preparing patients and their parents for discharge, and according to O'Neil, the organization has seen a substantial drop in readmission rates after deploying the program.

"Over an 18-month period, they've seen readmission rates go down from 4.2% within 30-day readmission rates to 0.01% -- that's a 99% reduction of people who completed the care plan," he said. "This isn't just waving a flag at how great the tool is; it's also the commitment of the organization to leverage the information and combine our tools with their staff to see these outcomes."

Using similar pathways to help with HCAP scores and improvements in quality of care, Florida Hospital Celebration Health, a 174-bed facility in Celebration, Fla., saw increases like an 11.4% increase in nurse communication, a 5.3% increase in staff responsiveness, and a 24.6% increase in room cleanliness.

"HCAPs impact both quality and service of care, but also the hospital's financial performance," said O'Neil. The folks at Florida Hospital Celebration Health sought to increase patient satisfaction scores and perceptions of their facility. They used a GetWell Network pathway to reach out to patients across the organization at 9 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. daily to gauge satisfaction scores.

"They designed a process to address concerns, and as a result, gained more interaction and commitment on behalf of their staff," said O'Neil. "What you're seeing over a 9- to 12-month period is an increase in HCAP areas that are difficult to move the needle on for hospitals."

Clinical, patient engagement, and consumer apps promise to re-energize healthcare. Also in the new, all-digital Mobile Power issue of InformationWeek Healthcare: Comparative effectiveness research taps the IT toolbox to compare treatments to determine which ones are most effective. (Free registration required.)

About the Author(s)

Michelle McNickle

Associate Editor of InformationWeek Healthcare

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