Serving the home health, home care and hospice industry since 1999.

by Tim Rowan, Editor

Long Term Post Acute Care has not been a priority of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society over its 30+ year history. That may finally be changing, according to three prominent HIMSS leaders. We sat down with Tom Leary, VP of Government Relations for HIMSS North America; Joseph Kvedar, MD, VP of Connected Health for Partners HealthCare and PCHAlliance Board Member; and Pam Jodock, Senior Director of Health Business Solutions for HIMSS North America.

Dr. Joe Kvedar is a longtime advocate for the use of wearable technologies to monitor people with chronic conditions. He is concerned, however, that engineers are too enamored with impressing other engineers. "These devices need to adapted for use by the elderly," he told HCTR. "They should be designed for usability, not just to have more total functions than the last device rolled out. Are they usable by people with declining vision, hearing, mobility?" Regarding in-home care, he said, the industry must answer the question "who is going to deliver the equipment to the home?" He looks closely at how remote monitoring systems are designed, 

There are some companies he has been impressed with recently. He said that companies working with the Amazon Echo, Google Home, or Microsoft Invoke have grabbed his attention, mentioning Orbita (artificial intelligence; Alexa-compatible medical apps), Spire (wearable stress tracker), and Empatica (wristwatch that detects seizures) in particular. "Wearables," Dr. Kvedar emphasized, "need to give insight, not just numbers."

Tom Leary is the VP of Government Relations for HIMSS. He is charged with shaping and monitoring regulations that impact healthcare providers, particularly healthcare IT. At present, he is focused on the Continuum of Care. Asked whether that continuum, in his mind, extends to post-acute care providers, he hesitated, not because he is unaware of the importance of our healthcare sector but because his work for hospitals, ACOs, and physician groups absorbs all his resources. He was not familiar with the names of any of the national home care associations but promised to look them up.

Pam Jodock, Senior Director of Health Business Solutions for HIMSS North America, sees to the business needs of healthcare organizations. She has one message to add to the discussion about the so-called Triple Aim, and the various tools developed to achieve it. "Always keep in mind that controlling healthcare costs, as noble and necessary as it is for the nation, means reduced revenue for healthcare providers." Hospitals need to fill beds, she continued. Physicians need to see patients. Home health agencies need to keep their census up. "Keep an eye on progress toward efficiency and increased use of technology but do not be surprised when revenue-conscious CFOs push back."

Clearly, these three executives serving unrelated causes have delivered one cohesive message to the Long Term Post-Acute Care sector. The healthcare system in this country needs low-cost care providers, with wearable remote patient monitoring technologies in hand, to work closely with hospital systems and ACOs and their technology vendors. The challenge is that these large providers do not always know how desperately they need the smaller, lower-cost providers. We need to do something about that.

©2018 by Rowan Consulting Associates, Inc., Colorado Springs, CO. All rights reserved. This article originally appeared in Tim Rowan's Home Care Technology Report. One copy may be printed for personal use; further reproduction by permission only.