ThedaCare is a seven-hospital health system in Wisconsin with 180 locations and 7,000 employees. To succeed in its mission, ThedaCare is on a path to population health – aiming to go above and beyond treating a particular condition to make care easy and accessible to help achieve better health for life.
The health system’s goals include providing high-quality care, access for everyone in the community, a great patient experience and affordable care.
Successful population health management requires a complete view of each patient’s health. Getting that view requires gathering fragmented information held by outside providers, payers and the patients themselves.
“To really get a handle on patient care being delivered to our communities, we have to transcend all the different organizations the patient touches,” said Dr. Imran A. Andrabi, president and CEO of ThedaCare.
“The goal was to integrate data from many traditional sources and present it via a web portal, enabling patients to view their health records and lab results, and refill medications online.
“Moreover, ThedaCare wanted to integrate the portal’s access to the avalanche of digital data streaming from wearables, remote monitors, and the more than 500,000 health-related apps available for patients to use on their phones,” he continued.
“Access to all of that data was contributing to information overload and confusion among consumers and, all too often, driving fragmented and wasteful care.”
“The Ripple by ThedaCare experience gives people the ability to coordinate health information across providers, pharmacies and health systems.”
Dr. Imran A. Andrabi, ThedaCare
ThedaCare’s leaders were convinced that harnessing that sea of data and figuring out how to make it actionable for patients was the key to solving the population health puzzle, as well as addressing the behavioral choices, genetics, and social and economic factors that studies show influence 80% of a person’s health.
MEETING THE CHALLENGE
With all of these goals in mind, in early 2020, ThedaCare turned to digital health, rolling out to its team members, patients and the community at large a digital “front end” to healthcare, with the help of vendor b.well Connected Health.
Dubbed “Ripple by ThedaCare” to illustrate the cumulative power of change on a community, the app and digital platform integrates and analyzes data from virtually any source and presents it in a way that encourages and incentivizes consumers to improve their health while lowering costs.
“The Ripple by ThedaCare experience gives people the ability to coordinate health information across providers, pharmacies and health systems,” Andrabi explained. “Everyone who downloads Ripple by ThedaCare and registers has secure access to their provider and insurance information, can manage their medications, schedule and conduct in-person or virtual visits, and receive alerts and reminders on future care needs, such as immunizations and preventative care.”
To accomplish this, b.well leverages FHIR-based application programming interfaces to consolidate a 360-degree view of real-time health data from virtually any source. This includes labs, pharmacies, Medicare, the Veterans Administration, third-party apps and devices, and any FHIR-enabled health plan or provider. This access now is mandated by the Patient Right of Access law.
b.well’s use of industry standards means the data can be easily integrated with ThedaCare’s major applications, including the Epic electronic health record. Patients can use Ripple by ThedaCare on their phone or computer to do all of the things they could do through the web portal, plus view and share information from any outside source in a way that previously would have required them to maintain multiple logins and passwords.
“To create a healthier community, ThedaCare realized it must become an organization that proactively knows patients, anticipates health wants and needs, and prevents issues from arising,” Andrabi said. “Ripple does that by engaging people on the front end, providing patients and our communities a simple, secure way to manage health, save time and, in the process, create greater peace of mind.
“When the COVID-19 pandemic began impacting health systems, rather than delay the rollout, I decided to accelerate it,” he continued. “The health system understood the importance of having a dependable way to share real-time COVID-related information from a trusted source with team and community members.”
The goal is to make exceptional care effortless and easier for our patients, he added.
“Convenience was an important part of the design, especially for those who manage the health of multiple family members,” he noted. “For the mother who needs to schedule her child’s wellness exam, refill a parent’s medication or make an appointment for herself, Ripple has the capability to do all of that through a secure platform.”
A year after launch, the digital front door has generated significant adoption and engagement. The number of people who have downloaded the app rose by 312% in the first 10 months after launch, a rate that continues to increase today.
Moreover, 83% of Ripple users who are designated as high-risk due to their condition are interacting with Ripple in a meaningful way, Andrabi said.
Less easy to quantify but equally impactful has been the technology’s ability to help keep team members and the community at large safe during the pandemic.
By the time Ripple was launched, it was clear that Wisconsin would be inundated with COVID-19 cases. Committed to keeping team members safe, ThedaCare asked b.well to create a mobile triage solution that team members could use every day to verify their health before coming into work.
With the agile, configurable nature of the b.well platform, the company was able to develop and launch its COVID-19 Return to Work Solution in less than three months. The solution helped to transition ThedaCare team members safely back to shared workspaces while reducing the burden on internal HR teams – all while addressing employees’ health needs and protecting privacy.
ADVICE FOR OTHERS
“Continue to learn and adjust to take the right steps to improve health for your patients and families,” Andrabi advised. “At times, healthcare can feel like a maze, and systems must be there to help navigate so that we can empower our communities to live their unique, best lives.
“As caregivers work with patients and develop plans to stay proactive in their care, to better predict and prevent disease, we also have the opportunity to engage consumers in the right behaviors on the front end to help us, together, get to the best outcomes,” he added.
Andrabi encourages all health systems to continue putting patients and families first, at every interaction, prioritizing their schedule when making appointments and designing facilities for comfort and convenience.
“Understanding each person’s needs allows caregivers to remain proactive in care, to predict and prevent disease before complications arise,” he concluded. “Systems should strive to make exceptional care effortless and easier for patients – doing what’s best for the patient at every interaction.”
Email the writer: [email protected]
Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.
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