VITAS and Centric Create Award-Winning Mobile Solution so Clinicians can Focus on Patients at Bedside
VITAS Healthcare, a pioneer in the hospice movement since 1978, is the nation’s leading provider of end-of-life care, caring for an average daily census of more than 17,000 terminally ill patients in their homes, nursing homes, assisted living communities, etc.
For a hospice provider, every moment matters. A request for an admission or a change in the level of care requires an immediate response. Recent healthcare legislation increased the need for nurse liaisons to capture sensitive patient information faster and cheaper, with greater accuracy.
VITAS needed to improve patient intake response times and digitize paper-based workflows, regardless of the clinician’s location or network connectivity.
Enter Centric: A Mobile Solution to Improve Patient Response
VITAS first worked with us about five years ago. They wanted to give their staff mobile devices to relay important daily care information faster and easier.
“Our goal this time was to reduce time incurred during the patient admissions process and increase speed to bedside by VITAS clinicians,” said Patrick Hale, CIO, EVP. “We reached out for the best talent we could find, and we loved the team that Centric brought,” he added. “They really meshed well with our team, and their technology expertise is unsurpassed.”
Chris Martinez, technology practice lead for Centric’s Miami office, met with VITAS executives and clinicians to understand how their system worked and to create a roadmap that would help the technology team convert VITAS’ paper processes to digital.
“At the time, nurses in the field were taking reams of forms with them to admit patients into care. We decided to transfer this information to iPads to help them do the process more quickly,” Chris explained.
“The initial challenge was to have the right subject matter experts in place, and be sure the 5,000 end users could understand the technology,” he added. “Many of them already used iOS devices in their personal lives, so switching them to iPads and iPhones was pretty easy.”
The VITAS and Centric technology team set out to create an app that would collect the information needed while not affecting the bedside experience.
“Using this technology, the clinician doesn’t turn their back on the patient while collecting information; the iPad or iPhone basically disappears from the equation,” said Hale. “It’s easy to set it down to hold a hand or to provide treatment.”
The app is extremely user-friendly, featuring a real-time interface so that clinicians don’t have to remember to store and then later forward information. A “body picker” enables users to click on an on-screen body part, such as the left arm, and enter a pain or wound score. The app also has a voice dictation feature.
“We created an app that is very familiar to our clinicians; when they open it, it looks like a chart,” said Hale. “They can point, click and swipe, and because the app translates touch to text, it eliminates 60 to 70 keystrokes.”
The app has created other efficiencies as well. In the past, a patient’s or caregiver’s first call to VITAS went to one of three nationwide call centers. The center would call the local program and share the patient’s medical history and needs, which required a lot of back-and-forth calls.
The patient intake mobile platform has been a game-changer for VITAS, with numerous benefits:
- Outbound calls decreased 40 percent over 18 months. In 2014, VITAS documented 918,000 outbound calls; in 2016, that number was 554,000. Inbound calls were reduced by 21 percent, which means nurses and clinicians are getting to the bedside faster.
- VITAS has saved $2.2 million by switching to the iPhone 6+, because phones cost about 35 percent less than desktop computers.
- VITAS has seen a 15 percent reduction on cost per referral. In 2016, that was a savings of $908,000. The process is also faster and more effective.
- Prior to the mobile platform, nurses needed to attend 23 hours of training before they could use the system; now it takes one hour: a new VITAS nurse gets a phone that configures itself, and after an hour watching tutorials, he or she can be caring for patients.
- A simple and intuitive interface makes it easy for nurses to capture patient details such as insurance and prior clinical assessments.
The mobile platform features an IT infrastructure that supports data communications with mobile devices through a web services architecture. This has eliminated hundreds of paper forms that were formerly faxed or carried between patients and clinicians. The app has also improved data privacy and security for accessing information, because only authorized clinical staff have the appropriate level of mobile device access.
“Providing the best, most efficient care for our patients is our mission and passion, and the mobile app helps us do that,” Hale said. “It allows our clinicians to spend time engaged with patients instead of on technology, and that improves the quality of experience at bedside.”
In January, the VITAS/Centric mobile solution partnership won the 2018 Process Excellence Network (PEX) award for its mobile solution to improve the patient experience. The award recognizes success in projects where processes are improved and enabled by technology. Projects are judged on initial implementation success, future sustainability, governance and business impact.
And we won’t stop there. After the 18-month pilot program proved such a success, the joint tech team is moving ahead to add new features and functions.
“Every piece of technology we layer on builds on how the system works,” said Hale. “We want to continue to leverage the power of mobile devices every day to make clinicians’ lives easier. By eliminating the technology burden, we make it more about patient interaction and clinical experience.”
To learn more, visit vitas.com.
This is a modified version of an article written by Vanessa Orr and originally published in South Florida Hospital News and Healthcare Report.