Health equity. Telehealth. The blurring lines of post-acute care. Standardization and interoperability. These are just some of the recurring themes that emerged from our first Forcura CONNECT Summit, a full day of virtual presentations by engaging industry experts and forward-thinking vendors, payers and providers. In the hours between the opening and closing remarks of our Founder and CEO, Craig Mandeville, we were challenged to look beyond home health care and hospice to the opportunities and obstacles faced by all stakeholders in the healthcare continuum. Our moderators and speakers focused a variety of lenses on the continuity of care, such as technology, analytics and relationships. To say the least, we left with an abundance of food for thought.
A Universal and Foundational Issue
Our first speaker, CulturaLink Founder and President Yolanda Robles, shared some eye-opening statistics. For instance, there will be no single racial majority in the U.S. by 2055. And today, still 20 percent of Americans speak a language other than English at home. She detailed the causes and outcomes of systemic healthcare inequity, from higher rates of chronic conditions, lack of insurance, language and cultural barriers, and an overall absence of advocacy. As Yolanda put it, “Whether you speak English or not, you need effective communication in healthcare. That’s the cornerstone of patient safety.”
Dr. Rasu B. Shrestha, Executive Vice President & Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer of Atrium Health, pointed to the underserved communities that have been hit especially hard by COVID-19, a crisis that has opened more eyes to the vulnerability of non-white populations and the need for a demand-driven, consumer-centric response. Both Florida Blue Senior Medical Director Dr. Gordon Kuttner and SCAN Health Plan Chief Medical Officer Dr. Romilla Batra underscored the importance of better preparing to care for diverse populations, and the overall need to get to know people better…even before they are patients and caregivers.
“The Toothpaste is Out of the Tube”
The pandemic caused many to fear an in-person doctor’s visit; thanks to some regulatory changes and public education, telehealth quickly became the new way to accomplish those visits. CommonSpirit VP of Operations and COO Trisha Crissman said it has influenced the PAC space as the steam engine affected the industrial revolution. We also heard more about the potential generated by telehealth beyond its role as a technological enabler. Dr. Jennifer Schneider, president of Livongo Health, used the toothpaste analogy to describe how the novel coronavirus has put everyone in the same camp when it comes to consumer-directed virtual care – and there’s no turning back. “We are revolutionizing the delivery of medicine, which may have taken us three years if COVID-19 hadn’t come along.”
Our telehealth panel – The Health Care Blog publisher Matthew Holt, Medically Home CMO Dr. Pippa Shulman, and HRS CEO and Co-Founder Jarrett Bauer – looked at how telemedicine is just the tip of the iceberg in delivering detailed care where the patient needs it. The model of a “continuous clinic,” and improvements in obtaining and analyzing patient data, are more vital to the care continuum than ever. As Pippa reminded us, “You need to be sure you’re tooled up to provide these more acute services in the home.”
The Transformation of Post-Acute Care
Between PDPM, PDGM and COVID-19, post-acute care is far from where it was at the end of last year. Being proactive is the name of the game, both for PAC providers and the patients they serve. On the panel led by Gartner VP Mandi Bishop, we heard Medalogix President and CEO Elliott Wood, Amedisys Senior VP Nick Muscato, and PointClickCare VP and General Manager B.J. Boyle, talk about the promise of predictive analytics…and the need to get real value out of the data that’s generated. From staffing to readmissions to outcomes, data must be shared across the continuum of providers, as well as payers and referring partners. Then everyone must be ready to react to what’s revealed. As B.J. put it, “You need to look both inward and outward.”
LHC Group EVP and Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer Bruce Greenstein, was bullish on PAC’s ability to change, because “home is the destination of our healthcare system.” He told moderator Jessica DaMassa, executive producer and host of WTF Health, “Post-acute care has been the sleepy frontier of healthcare, a cul-de-sac off the highway of the health system…It hasn’t modernized in 30 to 40 years, and now’s the time. We have to think about what we’re doing in a completely different way.”
Greater Collaboration Needs Interoperability, Standardization
Speaking of doing things in a completely different way, several of our participants focused on the technology side of the care continuum, and the need for better communication among all parties. MITRE Principal Engineer David Hill spoke about the PACIO Project, working to develop a framework to facilitate health information exchange between PAC and acute care facilities. He noted that 45 percent of patients leaving hospitals go into post-acute care…but all their information rarely goes with them. The benefits of true interoperability will be huge: more patient-centered care, reduced burden on clinicians, and better outcomes based on real-time data and analytics.
In the panel, “Continuous Care, Continuous Data Capture,” WellSky Chief Clinical Officer Tim Ashe, QRM EVP Meredith Mull and CommonWell Health Alliance Executive Director Paul Wilder agreed that it’s time to move on from a siloed healthcare system. Meredith called it, “The most challenging aspect of our work, but the most important piece to affecting outcomes.” When will interoperability arrive? Paul was optimistic, saying “The sun is coming up – and we need to be sure we can stick this win!”
Stay Tuned for More Details
We’ll be drilling down into these and other topics from our Connect Summit in future posts. In the meantime, you can listen to any or all of the presentations here. You might recall me opening up our afternoon sessions saying, “we all share a commitment around a common cause.” We hope you’ll agree that our Summit participants truly brought that statement to life.
As Chief Strategy Officer, Annie Erstling is responsible for driving growth at Forcura. She oversees the company's strategic planning, product innovation, marketing and strategic partnerships. She has experience launching new brands, products and companies across the healthcare and technology sectors.