Family Caregivers Say Health IT Tools Can Provide Key Benefits

mouseMany caregivers who use health IT tools to help care for family members or friends believe emerging technologies such as mobile health devices and personal health records will significantly benefit them and their care recipients, according to a recent study by the National Alliance for Caregiving and UnitedHealthcare, InformationWeek reports.

The study was based on a November online survey of 1,000 caregivers who provide at least five hours per week of unpaid care to an adult relative or friend. All of the caregivers in the survey use the Internet or some other technology to help provide care.

Expected Benefits

In response to questions about the expected benefits of using health IT tools, the researchers found that:

  • 77% of survey respondents believed the tools would save time;
  • 76% believed the tools would make care easier logistically;
  • 75% believed the tools would make care recipients feel safer;
  • 74% believed the tools would increase feelings of effectiveness; and
  • 74% believed the tools would reduce stress (Lewis, InformationWeek, 1/11).

Top Three Tools

The survey also identified three health IT tools that appeared to have the greatest potential to improve care because they appealed to a large number of caregivers and had minimal barriers to adoption. The top three tools identified were:

  • Personal health records, with 77% of respondents saying they would find it helpful to have a Web- or software-based PHR to track medications, test results and other data;
  • Caregiving coordination systems, with 70% of respondents saying they would find it helpful to have a system that logged a care recipient’s medical appointments and helped coordinate care; and
  • Medication support systems, with 70% of respondents saying they would find it helpful to have a device that reminded patients to take their medication and provided data on side effects (Hobson, “Health Blog,” Wall Street Journal, 1/10).

Read more:

CollaboRhythm – Redefining the doctor-patient relationship

Redefining the doctor-patient relationship – John Moore MD

The doctor-patient relationship is deteriorating. And today’s information technology solutions are exacerbating the problem. They perpetuate paternalistic decision-making and episodic care, and they fail to assist doctors in making persuasive arguments to their patients.

CollaboRhythm is a technological framework that encourages new paradigms in doctor-patient interaction to improve health outcomes and the patient experience. It uses ubiquitous connectivity, collaborative decision-making, and compelling interfaces and visualizations to educate patients, improve treatment adherence, and deliver care at any point in time or space with seamless transitions.

New Media Medicine from nextlab on Vimeo.

Click the link to see the full article about CollaboRhythm – Redefining the doctor-patient relationship

Minimising patient waiting times

TechnowaiT provides innovative solutions in queue management systems for health organizations serving patients on a first come, first serve basis.

TechnowaiT’s 1-2-3-GO! service is:

  • An innovative technology offering a practical solution for the probleme of over full waiting rooms
  • A proven, robust and reliable solution
  • A unintrusive, turn-key service, free for the clinic (certain conditions notwithstanding)

The 1-2-3-GO! service from TechnowaiT is designed to allow patients to leave the waiting room to avoid long waiting periods. Patients register with the service, and via an interactive phone based system, obtain information about the progress of the waiting line. This allows them to return to the clinic in a just in time fashion.

This turn-key service does not require any change for the physician or clinic personnel. It really is as easy as 1-2-3-GO!

With TechnowaiT, you improve the waiting conditions of your practice in several ways, providing a better workplace environment, greater efficiency and optimising your available floor space.

More information can be obtained by contacting us

Scottish Government launches Patient Portal project to give people access to their records

Patient health records go online

Computer and mouse

The portal will allow patients access to records via the internet

A scheme which gives patients access to their own health records over the internet is being piloted at two GP practices in Ayrshire.

The Patient Portal allows doctors appointments and repeat prescriptions to be booked through a secure website.

It also lets patients access their own test results, and track and monitor blood pressure and blood sugar levels.

If the £175,000 six-month trial is successful, it could be extended across the country.

The Patient Portal is being trialled at Townhead Surgery in Irvine and the Kilwinning Medical Practice.

Click the link to read more about patient records

Scottish Government publishes bill to improve NHS patients' rights

Legal guarantee to be given for treatment waiting times

Surgeons operating - generic

Patients will have a legally guaranteed waiting time for an operation

Patients will be legally guaranteed hospital treatment within 12 weeks under new legislation which has been unveiled by the Scottish government.

An independent advice service will also be created for anyone unhappy with the care provided by the NHS.

The Patient Rights (Scotland) Bill will introduce a legal right to complain about treatment.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said the bill aimed to improve patients’ experience of using health services.

The maximum waiting time of 12 weeks will begin when a patient is put on a waiting list and will apply to both day case and in-patient procedures.

It is absolutely right that patients know what they can expect from their health service
Nicola Sturgeon
Health Secretary

If a hospital fails to comply, it will have to ensure treatment is given at the “next available opportunity” and provide an explanation to the patient for the delay.

Health boards will have a duty to direct patients who are unsatisfied with their treatment to the new Patient Advice and Support Service.

Follow the link to read more about improving patient care

Audit Scotland publish report on managing NHS waiting lists

NHS waiting lists fairer, says study

surgeons at work

The report said patients are getting a fairer deal under the new system

Changes to NHS waiting lists have made the system fairer for patients according to the public sector watchdog Audit Scotland.

In a report it said an overhaul of the system two years ago had resulted in most patients waiting less than the 15 week target.

It concluded the new arrangements had improved the way the health service managed waiting lists.

But it criticised the way the NHS communicated with patients.

Auditor General for Scotland Robert Black said: “Waiting times are very important to patients and the new arrangements have improved the way the NHS manages waiting lists.

“The NHS now needs to build on this to make sure that the new arrangements work well for everyone.”

Click the link to read more on NHS waiting lists

New way of managing waiting lists is fairer for patients

Posted: 4 March 2010

The National Health Service (NHS) in Scotland has made big changes in how it manages waiting lists since 2008 and these have made the system fairer for patients. The NHS has done well to implement these complex new arrangements.

An Audit Scotland report, Managing NHS waiting lists – A review of new arrangements, looks at how the NHS has applied the new arrangements, known as New Ways, and how this has affected patients. New Ways aims to manage patients more consistently and bring an end to patients being put on what were sometimes referred to as ‘hidden waiting lists’, where they would lose their guarantee of being treated within a certain period of time.

The report finds that the NHS has broadly achieved these aims, and the changes have resulted in a system that is fairer for patients. But the health service now needs to do more to make the new arrangements work as effectively as possible and to help patients understand New Ways and its implications.

Read more about the Audit Scotland report on waiting lists

New Microsoft Health Solution Connects Hospitals With Patients and Referring Physicians to Improve Coordination of Care

ATLANTA — March 1, 2010 — At the 2010 Annual Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Conference & Exhibition, Microsoft Corp. today announced Microsoft HealthVault Community Connect, a new software solution for hospitals designed to help them improve care coordination and engage patients and their families in managing their own health. HealthVault Community Connect enables hospitals to give patients and referring physicians access, after discharge, to electronic copies of the patient’s personal health data generated at the hospital. The product also lets patients preregister for hospital appointments online using their electronic personal health information to populate hospital forms in advance.

The new solution is scheduled to be available in the third quarter of 2010.

Using HealthVault Community Connect, a hospital can give patients the option to access electronic medical information generated during hospital visits through the hospital’s Web site. In addition, patients can store this information in Microsoft HealthVault, a security-enhanced online service that is designed to put consumers in control of their health by providing a central place for them to gather, store and manage their health records, as well as share that information with family and a trusted network of caregivers.

For example, patients can log on to the hospital’s patient Web site from any computer with Internet access to view their hospital visit records — including discharge instructions, clinician notes, medications, and laboratory and radiology results. In addition, HealthVault Community Connect allows the patient to send a copy of the hospital visit records to the patient’s personal HealthVault account to store the data and share it with family, caregivers or health applications as desired.

A patient or physician can request that the hospital grant referring physicians, perhaps the patient’s primary care physician or a referring specialist, access to the patient visit records through the hospital’s Web site. Providing this access will allow these physicians to easily stay informed about the patient’s treatment at the hospital and to help coordinate care more efficiently. The hospital will control the list of physicians who are authorized to access the patient’s records through the hospital’s physician portal.

“With HealthVault Community Connect, we are targeting one of the fundamental gaps in the care process — the lack of electronic information flow between the hospital, the patient and the patient’s care team outside the hospital,” said David Cerino, general manager, Microsoft Health Solutions Group. “By allowing patients and their personal physicians to access electronic copies of their discharge instructions, for example, hospitals can facilitate better health outcomes by getting the relevant information into the hands of the people who need it most.”

According to research conducted by The New England Healthcare Institute (NEHI), one-third to one-half of patients in the United States do not take their medications as prescribed, costing the country $290 billion annually in avoidable medical spending.* To help address adherence, the NEHI report proposes creating healthcare teams, engaging and educating patients in their own care, and taking advantage of health information technologies, including electronic health records, to promote the sharing of medication data among patients, physicians and other caregivers.

“As an early adopter of HealthVault Community Connect, Brooks is excited about applying innovative technology to enhance service to our patients and referring community,” said Karen Green, chief information officer at Brooks, a 143-bed acute physical rehabilitation hospital with more than 25 outpatient centers and a home health services division that receives patients from more than 2,000 referral sources in Florida and south Georgia. “This solution will address Brooks’ strategic initiatives to improve care coordination and engage patients and families in their healthcare.”

In addition to providing patient health data following treatment, hospitals using HealthVault Community Connect can offer their patients the ability to preregister for hospital admission online using the personal health information stored in their HealthVault account, including medical history, current medications, insurance and demographic information. Using the patients’ personal health data from HealthVault to populate the hospital’s admission forms before the visit can save time and help patients improve the consistency of information entered.

Designed for hospitals of any size, HealthVault Community Connect will integrate with an organization’s existing information technology infrastructure and use Microsoft SharePoint Server, so it can be easily customized and can evolve to meet future organizational requirements.

GPs' reactions to "internet-informed" patients

Don’t dismiss ‘cyberchondriacs’

Dr Anthea Martin
Dr Anthea Martin
Senior Medical Adviser with Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland

Searching the web

Many people now search the web for health information

As the internet becomes more and more easily accessible it is perhaps inevitable that patients should try to self-diagnose.

In this week’s health opinion column Scrubbing Up, medical law expert Dr Anthea Martin warns doctors against dismissing all web-wise patients as ‘cyberchondriacs’.

Picture the scene. A man walks into a GP’s consultation room and the doctor’s eye is immediately drawn to a 10-page print-out in his hand.

The GP suspects the patient has spent hours researching all of his symptoms on the internet before arriving at the appointment, armed with his dossier of medical information.

Some GPs said they were frightened of losing control of the consultation and of the prospect of having to admit to their patient that they have read something they don’t understand

It’s possible he has diagnosed himself with anything ranging from a simple cold or flu to some exotic disease such as dengue fever.

So, what would be the GP’s initial reaction? Does she welcome the chance to discuss her patient’s health, or does a look of panic cross her face while she gazes anxiously at the clock wondering how long the consultation will take?

click the link to read more about GPs’ reactions to “internet-informed” patients

Siemens Signs Agreement to License Microsoft HealthVault

UNTERSCHLEISSHEIM/MANNHEIM, Germany — Jan. 28, 2010 — Microsoft Corp. and Siemens AG (through its Siemens IT Solutions and Services division) have announced the signing of a licensing agreement to introduce Microsoft HealthVault in Germany. HealthVault, a personal health application platform, enables individuals to store their health information including immunizations, disease history and prescriptions in an online account. The vision of the Microsoft-Siemens relationship is to enable German citizens to connect to various systems run by physicians, hospitals, pharmacies and even fitness facilities for a comprehensive view of their personal health information. Siemens will be the exclusive operator of HealthVault in Germany and will market the platform to developers, application providers and device manufacturers to join the service and provide citizens with tools that will help foster dynamic, trusted and personalized healthcare.

HealthVault is a personal health application platform that enables individuals to store, share and manage their health information online and make them available to healthcare providers and family members that they select. Users can store information from multiple sources, including medical monitoring devices, to measure things like blood pressure, pulse and weight; diagnostic findings from general practitioners and medical specialists; imaging procedures; and training plans developed by physiotherapists and rehabilitation facilities. In addition to manually entering the information, data from certified devices can be transferred through a personal computer into HealthVault accounts using HealthVault Connection Center.

Security-Enhanced Platform for Health Data

The security-enhanced platform enables individuals to confidentially manage their personal health data. Users are able to access their data virtually anytime, from anywhere, and decide for themselves who is granted access to the information. Siemens will host all stored health data in security-enhanced datacenters in Germany. To help protect consumer privacy, user data is transmitted through an encrypted connection over the Internet. As their own health managers, users keep control of the information stored in HealthVault and can decide the people who are permitted access.

“In Siemens IT Solutions and Services, we have found a reliable and competent partner with whom we can jointly bring innovative solutions to the German healthcare system. With HealthVault, we provide citizens with a platform that allows them to better manage their health and the health of their families, and facilitates their communication with providers,” said Angelika Gifford, senior director, Public Sector and member of Management at Microsoft Germany.

“With the deployment of the HealthVault technology, Siemens contributes to the supply of affordable and personalized healthcare. At the same time, Siemens IT Solutions and Services completes its eHealth portfolio and expands the existing good relationship with Microsoft in the healthcare market,” said Frank Hauber, head of Business Unit Industry, Energy, Healthcare of Siemens IT Solutions and Services Germany.

First Market Launch in Europe

Microsoft initially launched HealthVault in the United States in 2007. Germany is now the third country worldwide where the platform will be available. With the operation of this platform, Siemens IT Solutions and Services is expanding its eHealth portfolio and opening up ways for organizations in the German healthcare sector and the fitness and wellness industry to develop citizen services based on this technology. In the United States, over 150 companies, ranging from health insurance companies and manufacturers of medical devices to pharmacies, are currently offering online applications for the HealthVault platform.

About Microsoft in Health

Microsoft is committed to improving health around the world through software innovation. Over the past 12 years Microsoft has steadily increased its investments in health, with a focus on addressing the challenges of health providers, health and social services organizations, payers, consumers, and life sciences companies worldwide. Microsoft closely collaborates with a broad ecosystem of partners and develops its own powerful health solutions, such as Amalga and HealthVault. Together, Microsoft and its industry partners are working to advance a vision of unifying health information and making it more readily available, ensuring the best quality of life and affordable care for everyone.

Interview with Pamela Swingley Founder of RememberItNow!

Pam Swingley
Pamela Swingley

Pamela Swingley is a seasoned software executive with more than 20 years of experience working with technology companies of all sizes. Pam has a passion for early stage companies. She has managed marketing strategy and programs for three successful startups: Onlink Technologies which was acquired by Siebel, Shoplink Collision Estimating, a division of ADP, and Gate58 Marketing, a leader in B2B lead generation. In 2005, she founded Savvy Internet Marketing, a consulting firm specializing in online marketing, website design and usability. Pam holds a B.S. degree in Human Development from UC Davis and an MBA from Saint Mary’s College in Moraga.

Interview Questions:

Why did you start RememberItNow?

I started RememberItNow! because I wanted to help my dad. He was forgetting his pills, he couldn’t remember if he put in his eye drops. And it was a pain to dig for all his phone numbers, passwords, and more for health insurance, doctor appointments, etc. Every time. Not to mention, I had to update my siblings or whoever else helping out. If one of us had to switch places to take care of him, we had to start the whole search all over again. I started to worry a lot too when he forgot his pills. After searching for a long time on the web for something that could manage his health, and not finding results…I figured, ‘Why can’t I make this?’ And that’s where it all started.

How did you make the switch from marketing to software development?

Making the switch was easier than I expected. As an internet marketing consultant I’ve been working for several years with a core team of people to build corporate websites. An effective website is the work of a team of people. One person will do the strategy. A graphic designer creates the look and feel. A writer creates the content. An engineer makes the forms work, builds a content engine, creates flash elements, and often builds mini applications. The production  manager puts all the pieces together and builds the site.  The entire team usually does a quality check making sure everything works before the launch. And lastly, a search engine optimization expert works on driving traffic to the website.
The process was the same to build RememberItNow!, it just took longer. Since we have all worked together before, things went pretty well. Our designer created more than 160 page comps to clearly articulate what was to be built. Because of this attention to detail at the beginning, the final application was exactly what was requested.

Patient-centric is the buzz word of the moment, what does it mean to you?

One of the common problems with software design is that the developers assume that every user is as tech savvy as they are. That is very far from the truth. Most computer users want to get their task done as quick as possible and go on to things they enjoy. Software built from an engineering perspective is rarely user-centric.

For us patient-centric means that every decision is made from the patient’s point of view. It may not always be feasible to implement, but we always consider the user’s needs first.

Before we wrote a single line of code, we built detailed personas for each user. These fictional characters included a background on illnesses and medication schedules, activities, attitudes toward technology, age, family relationships, attitudes, where they lived, and what they read. 

To build accurate personas we interviewed a variety of people who took multiple medications, and people who served as caregivers to a loved one. Karen, and her mother Carol, became our model for long-distance caregiving. Persona Janelle was a single, middle-aged interior decorator diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. Persona Manual is a much loved grandfather with several chronic diseases. He sees multiple doctors, and is cared for at home by his wife, with relief help from family and friends.

As we designed the application we considered how each of our personas would respond. Would they know the account section was under their user name? Were two links too close together for someone that wasn’t comfortable with a mouse? How many features are too many? What colors are least intimidating? What action on each page is most important? What matters most to the patient? To the caregiver? To the healthcare professional?

By starting from the patient’s point-of-view, we ended up with an application that is truly patient-centric.

The principles of patient-centric extend to how we’ve structured the business. We went with Software as a Service, (SaaS). You pay as you go, and no downloads. No contracts, no hidden fees, no constant upgrades. The first month is free too, and if you feel like you don’t need RememberItNow! anymore, then it can be canceled.

I noticed RememberItNow! has a noticeably simple and fun design, explain how you got there.

I worked in the business software industry for over twenty-five years. Business software is not easy to use. So when it came time for me to create RememberItNow! I wanted it to be the opposite of everything I hated. I wanted my software to be easy for anyone to use. If you have to train someone to use it, it’s pointless. And frankly, if I’m going to spend a year of my life working on something, I wanted it to be nice to look at.

Give us an example of why it’s so easy to use.

The “Medications” page is a good place to start. Adding a medication couldn’t be easier. Just click on the big orange button that says, ‘Add a medication’. Boom. There it is. No fancy icons or logos where you have to guess what something means and what it does. RememberItNow! is easier because our functions are labeled and every page has a clear call to action. Another example is the journal. You simply type an entry and click the orange plus button. Or click on the orange stars to add an entry for your wellness. It’s a little bit fun too. If you’re going to use something everyday, you might as well enjoy it right? Even our elephant is happy.

How did you stick with this though? Most companies seem to get off track and start listening to their investors.

Well right now we don’t have any investors. We’ve bootstrapped the company. When the time comes to raise funds, we will look for investors that share our same values. We wrote our core values within the first three months of starting RememberItNow!.They are designed to guide us in who we hire and partner with.

>Be understanding and responsive to our customer’s challenges – Our first responsibility is to listen to our customers, and respond to their needs. By building better products and providing customer service, we can help them get the most from their investment. This value ties directly into our patient-centric philosophy. Our market success will come from taking care of our customers.

Deliver value by doing more with fewer resources – It’s never been cheaper or faster to build software than right now. Agile software development, virtual teams, hard work, and adoption of the latest business tools (mostly free, thanks to Google) are a few of the ways we keep our expenses down.

We do everything with such a small team, that nothing gets neglected; and communication is easier. Things get done faster. Plain and simple. There is no need to go through a whole chain of people to get the approval of something small. We’ve had one meeting in the entire year.

>Build open and honest relationships. – It’s not a big mystery who we are. We strive for transparency in our communications. We value feedback from all. You can follow our story on our blog, Facebook, on Twitter, or send us your thoughts (support(at)rememberitnow(dot)com. As for the honesty part of this value statement, that shouldn’t require any explanation.

> Create quality and take pride in our work. – We believe that if something is worth doing, it is worth doing well. We work hard to create things we like to use, and are proud to show off. We expect everyone to do their best, and to be accountable for their actions.
> Make things easier, and be easy to work with. – For most people, technology adds complexity to their lives. Our job is to build software that makes things easier not harder. And while we are doing that, we want to be easy to work with. This doesn’t mean we say yes all the time, or that we let others take advantage of us. It means that we respect one another. We help others reach their goals and we don’t hide behind email or voicemail, or pass our responsibilities off to someone else.
> Bring passion and a positive attitude to all we do. – No naysayers here. Enthusiasm is contagious, and we only accept optimism. It’s an exciting time to be in business as the Internet reshapes how we build, market and deliver software. We’re fortunate to be able to participate in the Health 2.0 revolution. And we are thrilled to empower patients to reach their own health goals.

> Embrace creativity, innovation and change. – The healthcare industry is not known for rapid change, but RememberItNow! is. We believe it is better to move quickly and risk a mistake than to dawdle and miss an opportunity. We have a bias toward action.

So it sounds like you have built a small niche for yourself, any learning milestones so far?

One of the things we have learned is that we underestimated the opportunity for eHealth services. It’s not a small niche. Twenty-seven percent of the people in the United States take five or more medications a week, and almost every one of these people finds it a challenge to manage their health care. Nearly 50% of the time medications are not taken as they were prescribed.

In addition, this market is rapidly expanding as 77 million baby boomers enter their senior years. their senior years. We’ve realized that the value of RememberItNow! isn’t just medication reminders, it’s so much more. It’s a way for employers to control healthcare costs. For long-term care facilities to manage resident records. For patients to take control of their health. And for healthcare providers to provide better care.  It’s eHealth made easy.

Find out more about RememberItNow!