The Most Solvable Communication Issues In Healthcare

Family Communication with Nursing Home
Mass notification technology and telehealth applications can improve communication with employees, patients, and other stakeholders which can boost engagement and morale for any healthcare provider.
Hucu is doing exactly that. Hucu.ai is a HIPAA Compliant Text Messaging App that can be seamlessly incorporated in all the processes within a healthcare organization. It is easy to use and provides the majority of the functionalities and features that can eliminate communication challenges in healthcare.
While Hucu.ai and other such telehealth technologies exist, hospitals and healthcare providers in the industry still face communication issues and challenges that can cause financial, operations, strategies, and reputational damage. Here are the top six communication challenges faced by the healthcare industry and how Hucu.ai can help resolve them.

Antiquated Technology

Faces, pagers, radios, and telephones do have their place but they do not offer quick and effective information to multiple people. These tools are used for one-to-one communication and require manual replication to share the information to other stakeholders (i.e. you have to individually page everyone or to individually call everyone to let them know something of importance).
In an article by Insights, Darlene Duncan – a registered nurse for 25 years – shares her experience with the old school technology. She carries three devices to work: a charge nurse flip phone, a beeper, and a voice-activated device to locate her team. She says:
“Our greatest continuing challenge is timely communication. “I need one device to communicate with my staff and physicians, and to interface with the EHR. Instead, I have all three devices, all the time, physically attached to me. Even the physicians in our hospital use a very antiquated beeper system. Sometimes I don’t even need the doctor to call me back. I just need to inform him about something, but I have to page him, and he has to stop and call me, and I have to stop what I’m doing to answer the phone. Other times, I have a patient in a critical state, and I need the doctor now. If I could call or text directly, it would save time and potentially lives.”
“Our greatest continuing challenge is timely communication. “I need one device to communicate with my staff and physicians, and to interface with the EHR. Instead, I have all three devices, all the time, physically attached to me. Even the physicians in our hospital use a very antiquated beeper system. Sometimes I don’t even need the doctor to call me back. I just need to inform him about something, but I have to page him, and he has to stop and call me, and I have to stop what I’m doing to answer the phone. Other times, I have a patient in a critical state, and I need the doctor now. If I could call or text directly, it would save time and potentially lives.”
This gives us valuable insight into the core of the communication problem faced by many staff members like Duncan.
Solution: Hucu application can be installed on smartphones that nurses and doctors carry all the time. With a single message in a “channel”, the healthcare staff member can communicate with the relevant person. Since the text messaging app is HIPAA compliant, the staff member can quickly write down the purpose of the message. With Hucu, healthcare staff does not have to carry multiple devices.

Manual Alert Increases Vulnerability

Printed notices can cause technological and reputational risks if they get thrown away, misplaced, or lost. This exposes the facility of the healthcare provider to vulnerabilities. The notice can go in the wrong hands and create a security breach or cause the spread of misinformation. Mishandling or protected information is a major concern.
Solution: The push notification feature in Hucu can convey important information only to the relevant eyes instantly. The application is password protected and has a biometric login feature which ensures only the authorized person is accessing it.

Spend less time chasing communications with Hucu.ai

Shifts Not Filed On Time

Patients always need medical supervision when they are hospitalized. If the healthcare provider is short of staff, then there is a need to quickly fill shifts. Usually hospitals and healthcare providers make manual calls to off-duty employees and this is an ineffective, slow process. Also, this process requires multiple people making calls and trying to fill shifts. Shifts may get filled but slow communication results in wastage of time and manpower.
Solution: Hucu app allows the healthcare provider to create a specific channel for off-duty employees that can be notified of a potential shift instantly with just one message. Whoever is available can reply back instantly – also notifying others that the shift has been filled. What takes hours to do can be done within a couple of minutes and this requires only one person to send the message. Hucu is one of the best Healthcare Communication Solutions that also saves manpower hours and call costs incurred by the traditional method of filling shifts.

Timely Delivery of Information

When there is a situation that needs attention quickly or if there is a change in policy, printed notices or phone calls are not the best way to give out more information. Healthcare employees work different shifts on different hours so engaging them all on a regular basis is a difficult task. Even if healthcare providers provide lockers or on-site mailboxes for printed information sharing – it does not guarantee that the information was received and read by the recipient. There will be a high number of employees claiming they did not see the information with the flyer system and it could cause liability issues.
Solution: Using Hucu, healthcare providers can send out individual messages to staff members who will be notified of the important information and can reply back confirming they have received it. Hucu offers transparency and accountability on all fronts that ensure information is imparted and received without wasting time and resources.

With Hucu.ai, get messages and updates in real time

Alerting Different Groups of Stakeholders In a Crisis

Notifying a large group of different stakeholders of dangerous situations and crises such as infectious disease outbreak, medical lockdown, missing patients, evacuation, and others – is a difficult task. It requires a detailed communication plan including contingencies and legacy planning. Such notification needs to take place instantly in order to save patients and employees. Calling on phones manually will require hours and that’s something healthcare providers can’t afford in a crisis.
Solution: Hucu app allows healthcare providers to create different groups of stakeholders. Healthcare providers can also customize their communication messages for each group so that relevant information is given to the right group of stakeholders. All of this can happen in real-time and instantly. Groups can also pour in suggestions to resolve real-time problems in times of crisis.

Lack of Mobile EHR Access

Healthcare is a mobile profession inherently since the doctors are running from hospitals to clinics and nurses are always rushing from one patient’s room to the other’s. However,, most healthcare organizations, hospital communications are not mobile. Medical staff can only access patient medical records from shared computers in the facility or nurses’ stations. This wastes time and can end up delaying information that could save a life.
Solution: Hucu.ai offers real-time messaging and secured end-to-end encryption of the patient’s medical record that can be shared through the app. It is a HIPAA compliant application that allows the sharing of patient data securely, quickly, and efficiently.
Healthcare providers are ready for smartphone-based communication channels. Modern technology and telehealth can resolve most of the issues in healthcare communication and save lives, time, manpower, and resources.
Information source: Samsung.com, Virtru.com, Remver.com
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Family Communication with Nursing Home Residents Required During Covid19

Family Communication with Nursing Home

As COVID-19 rages on, governments around the world are taking stricter measures to protect senior citizens in nursing homes by limiting their physical interaction with families. In the U.S., the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued these new measures which are intended to keep the nursing home residents safe. These measures implement new rules for family communication with nursing home residents during the pandemic.

Measures To Protect Senior Citizens in Nursing Homes

The measures by CMS come from the new recommendations from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It requires nursing homes to restrict visitors, communal activities, gatherings, and the presence of nonessential personnel inside nursing homes. These measures are CMS’s latest action to ensure protection for America’s senior citizens who have the highest risk to develop complications from COVID-19. Visitor restrictions may be difficult for the residents of nursing homes but it is an important and temporary measure for their protection. One might wonder how necessary these measures are and what impact they would have. To answer that, Seema Verma, CMS Administrator pointed out:

“As we learn more about the Coronavirus from experts on the ground, we’ve learned that seniors with multiple conditions are at highest risk for infection and complications, so CMS is using every tool at our disposal to keep nursing homes free from infection.”

These new measures supersede previous CMS guidelines and include the institutions’ most aggressive recommendations to lock nursing homes in a safety cushion in the face of the spreading coronavirus. These measures include:

  1. Restricting all visitors effective immediately, except for compassionate care ( in end-of-life cases). In such cases, visitors will be given personal protective equipment like masks and the visit will be limited to a specific location in the building only.
  2. Canceling communal dining and group activities
  3. Restricting volunteers and nonessential healthcare staff and other personnel like barbers etc.
  4. Implementing screening of nursing home residents and healthcare staff for respiratory symptoms or fever.

CMS’s guidance was developed based on CDC recommendations delivered by real-time information gathering from experts in the field and in areas where there is a large number of COVID-19 positive cases, like California and Washington. According to the CDC, senior citizens who have multiple health conditions are at a higher risk of complications. Nursing homes are very prone to the rapid spread of the virus because of large gatherings for this vulnerable part of the population. 

Already there have been many reports of large numbers of cases of COVID-10 spreading rapidly in nursing homes including Life Care Center in Kirkland, Washington. This is particularly more dangerous because the spread of the coronavirus in a nursing home can amplify further spread to other facilities when patients are transferred or when the visitors and staff members come and go.

According to CDC, visitors and healthcare staff that are ill are more likely to be the source of introducing COVID-19 into the nursing home. This fact has necessitated the change in guidance to restrict personnel and visitors.

Impact of Isolation on Skilled Nursing Residents during Covid 19

CMS also understands how important it is to keep nursing home residents connected with their families and loved ones. However, the quick spread of COVID-19 and its transmission through visitors and healthcare staff members have made it mandatory to restrict nonessential visitation to safeguard residents’ health that is susceptible to complications from the virus.
However, instead of visits nursing homes are encouraged to facilitate increased virtual communication between families and residents in addition to encouraging nursing homes to keep residents’ families and loved ones informed about their health and condition. This includes assigning a staff member as a primary point of contact for families to facilitate inbound communication and outbound communication.
Nursing homes are expected to defer visits from families and loved ones until further notice through signage or other outreach methods. Taking a cue from these recommendations, Governor Ned Lamont in Connecticut has issued an order to implement standards at nursing homes that ensure residents can speak with their families through video conferencing or windows.

Hucu makes family communication simple and effective

New Rules for Family Communication with Nursing Home Residents in Connecticut

Since visitors are barred from meeting nursing home residents in person, it was only logical to have an alternate solution to ensure families stay connected to their loved ones in nursing homes. According to the order by Governor Ned Lamont, every facility has to regularly facilitate reasonable and practical alternative means of communication between family/other individuals and residents as designated by the resident or his legal representative as they will be denied entry to the facility due to visitation restrictions.

The order also mentioned the means of communication which include window visits, virtual visitation via technological solutions like Zoom, Face Time, Microsoft Teams, etc., social media communications, and phone calls. These have to take place at least once in a week. Another part of the order says:

“Facilities shall contact the resident’s family, conservator or legal representative to decide together on which specific work shift the visits or technological solutions will be provided. All perimeter visits (i.e. window visits, outdoor social-distancing visits) shall be planned by the Facility with guidelines for safety. There shall not be any window or perimeter visits after sundown. All such visits, which shall be for a minimum of 20 minutes, should be structured so as not to overwhelm Facility staff and to ensure the unintended persons do not breach the premises.
“Facilities shall provide guidance and assistance to the resident in the use of such technological solutions and shall regularly inform residents and their family members of the availability of such communication options and how they may be scheduled; and Facilities that are unable to provide such communication and visitation alternatives shall immediately inform and work with the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program to find and implement a resolution.”
These new rules to communicate with residents in nursing homes can open the door to several technological possibilities that can solve this problem and help healthcare staff members organize themselves to provide better care. One such solution is Hucu is an app for Effective Communication in Healthcare which is a HIPAA compliant, free text messaging application.

How Hucu Facilitates the New Rules of Communication in Nursing Homes

Hucu offers two solutions that would facilitate communication between nursing home residents and their loved ones, and would also help nursing home facility organize their processes to provide better care and cut costs.
Hucu has integrated Zoom video conferencing service in its platform so that residents in nursing homes or any patient in a healthcare facility can video conference with their loved ones or even doctors. The video conferencing feature allows healthcare staff to consult senior doctors in other facilities in critical situations – which can help prevent hospitalizations. Stats show that using communication tools can reduce hospitalizations from nursing homes by 50%.
Hucu is a HIPAA compliant text messaging application that allows healthcare professionals to communicate with each other about patients, processes, and share patient data safely.

Healthcare staff members can create virtual wards of their patients and regularly update the information so that other staff members stay updated in real-time about the condition of those patients. This also helps staff members to list down and share to-dos and patient data. It eliminates the time wasted in processing paper forms, photocopying patient data for the next doctor on duty, and chances of miscommunication within the facility. Since everyone carries a smartphone, Hucu can be implemented in any healthcare facility effortlessly. It helps cut costs and streamline the work cut out for healthcare staff members so that they have more time which can be used to improve patient-centered care.

With the new orders directing the new rules of communication in nursing homes, it is only time before telehealth solutions like Hucu would become the preferred solution because telehealth can help implement the new recommendation and also facilitate communication within a healthcare facility.

Learn More about Hucu.ai and other virtual communication methods.

Information Source: CMS.GOV, injurylaw-ny

Video chat with loved ones in hospice, anytime with Hucu

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Ten Eye-Catching Innovations for Healthcare At CES

CES-2020

The Hucu.ai team attended the CES – The Global Stage for Innovation Conference on January 7-10, 2020 in Las Vegas, NV. We were excited to come across many innovative consumer technologies that would add value to the future of healthcare. 

Let us walk you through 10 eye-catching innovations that we think can change the face of healthcare.

 

A wearable belt that prevents falls by analyzing gait. The SMART BELT is equipped with sensors and algorithms that calculate fall risk due to abnormal gait patterns. Welt points out that falls can be fatal and expensive. Falls happen due to walking patterns. With the embedded technology, the SMART BELT detects walking patterns by measuring the right and left foot strike power and walking speed through the body’s temperature. When an imbalance detected, a signal is sent to the user’s phone alerting them.

ces conf

PRIA By Black & Decker

innovative ai based apps

 

Pria is a tech-savvy medicine dispenser that helps consumers manage their medications. An easy to use three step process enables hassle-free access. Medication and their doses are loaded in the pill chute. The medication is stored in a pill-wheel which is split into doses. Lastly, the attached pill cup dispense the medication directly. This system replaces the traditional medicine cabinet and comes with an app that synched to the consumer’s phone. The app keep tracks of medication, sends reminders, and is able to communicate with the healthcare team. 

 

 

An ergonomically designed wireless headset that activates the brain utilizing sensory input mechanisms and visuospatial elements of VR. For instance, at physical therapy, the VR headset can take the user into a real life forest doing the same movements instead of doing them at a medical facility. Mieron can be used in physical therapy, rehabilitation, mental wellness, pain management, quality of life, and continued education. The device encourages users to achieve more mobility, independence, and quality of life.

nursing home Hipaa, hucu.ai

Tangilble Research – Robotic Arms

 

Aging seniors experience weakness in their limbs thus losing the sense of touch. The Tangible Research Team have created a pair of robotic arms as if they were your own. This technology advancement can help seniors continue working and engaged even though they may not be physically able to do the work with the help of powerful robotic arms.

LUMOS FLUX- Light Therapy Glasses

 

A pair of innovative eyeglasses that are designed  resync your circadian rhythm, using neurobiology. The glasses are equipped with a blue light technology to enable melatonin production. Continued wear will help reduce depression and better sleep – especially powerful for northern areas like Chicago where winters are dark and gloomy

hucu.ai
LASMSACURE – WOUND MANAGEMENT

 

According to Plasmacure, 140 million people worldwide are affected by chronic wounds.  This product uses cold plasma, an antibacterial, which is created by ionizing a gas by means of a strong electric field. The product is not on the market yet and being currently being used in clinical studies. The device consists of an electric pad and a pulser.

ORIGAMI WHEELS BY Seoul National University

 

These innovative wheels created by students at Seoul National University can be attached to wheelchairs providing seniors to navigate through different terrains comfortably.

Panasonic had an interactive yoga studio at CES. Participants were able to follow instructions via augmented reality coaching on the screens while Panasonic, using non-invasive sensor and imaging, captured and interpreted their health data based on their habits and behaviors. The senior community in post-acute care can benefit from this innovation as it will help them in mobility by balancing their gait and therapy.

Robotic Mobility By Panasonic

 

In addition to the many creations Panasonic showcased, robotic mobility was one of their newest creations. These autonomous wheel chairs are built with two laser sensors above the front wheels that can automatically brake thus preventing a collision.

The Home Robot

 

A ball size robot created by Samsung that can follow seniors around the house without running into furniture. Equipped with a camera, ballie can recognize faces and objects. This is a great feature that seniors can use for reminding them about their medications and other tasks they need to perform. Ballie is a caretaker and can remind seniors of their to do lists tasks such as: eating, drinking water, etc.

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Top 4 Conditions Driving 78% of Avoidable Hospitalizations Among COPD, CHF and Dementia Patients

hipaa compliant texting
Impacting 40% of COPD & CHF, and 20% of Adv. Dementia Patients

Introduction

It is burdensome, costly, and of little clinical effect to transport nursing home residents living with an advanced chronic illness to the hospital for an avoidable condition. Patients with several common conditions are particularly vulnerable: 

  • Advanced Dementia 
  • CHF (Congestive Heart Failure) 
  • COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) 

Patient centered healthcare providers must be vigilant in particular for the highest risk conditions which account for 78% of potentially avoidable hospitalizations including 

  • Sepsis 
  • Pneumonia 
  • UTI (Urinary Tract Infection) 
  • Dehydration

In this recent 2019 JAMA Internal Medicine Study, “Approximately 50% of nursing home residents experience 1 or more hospitalizations in their last year of life. At least half of these hospitalizations are estimated to be potentially avoidable because the acute condition could be managed effectively in the nursing home or the hospital-level care is not aligned with patient preferences.” The study focuses on long term (i.e.,more than 100 days) nursing home Medicare patients with advanced dementia, CHF, and COPD, and finds that residents’ hospital transfer rates decreased significantly from 2011 through 2014 for all three conditions. CHF and COPD patients experienced an uptick in hospitalizations in 2015 and 2016, while Advanced Dementia patients were hospitalized at a slightly higher rate in 2015 and 2016. 

The study provides evidence that post acute care is adjusting to Affordable Care Act (ACA) policy changes.  For example, the HRRP (Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program) went into effect in 2012, penalizing hospitals for certain rehospitalizations.  One of the main focus of ACA was to reduce hospitalizations without affecting mortality. Since then, innovations are being implemented to reduce unnecessary cost due to avoidable hospitalization. In particular, Sepsis was the key driver of increased hospitalizations in each of the high risk populations studied.

Results / Discussion

While progress was made in reducing avoidable hospitalizations between 2011 and 2017, analysis shows that more than 40% of patients (2 out of 5 patients) with COPD or CHF are still being hospitalized for potentially avoidable conditions. Similarly, on average 20% of patients (1 in 5 patients) with advanced dementia are hospitalized annually for a potentially avoidable condition.

Not surprisingly, “Infections accounted for most potentially avoidable hospital transfers across advanced illness groups.” According to Figure 2 (in the research paper) , the most prevalent reason for hospital transfers was sepsis, followed by Pneumonia, UTI and dehydration.

For Dementia patients, in 2011, hospital transfers tied to Sepsis were ~3 times more than Pneumonia and UTI, and ~6.25 times more than dehydration. However, in 2016, due to significant reduction in Pneumonia and UTI cases, hospital transfers tied to Sepsis were ~4 times more than Pneumonia, UTI and dehydration. Demonstrating that Sepsis continues to be the leading cause of hospital transfers among Dementia patients.

Comparatively, for Congestive Heart Failure, in 2011, hospital transfers tied to Sepsis were ~2 times more than Pneumonia and UTI, and ~18 times more than dehydration. Over the years, until 2016 there were significant efforts put into place to help reduce UTI and Pneumonia but not much into Sepsis  That’s why by 2016, hospital transfers tied to Sepsis were ~5 times more than Pneumonia, UTI and dehydration.

For Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease , in 2011, hospital transfers tied to Sepsis were ~2 times more than Pneumonia and UTI, whereas Sepsis cases were a whopping ~37 times more than dehydration. For the same reasons as identified in Dementia and CHF patients in 2016, due to significant focus spent around reducing Pneumonia and UTI cases, hospital transfers tied to Sepsis were ~4 times more than Pneumonia, UTI and dehydration. Demonstrating that Sepsis continues to be the leading cause of hospital transfers among COPD patients.  

Best Practices in Preventing These Conditions:

All of these conditions can be prevented with vigilant care and monitoring of patient conditions. Nursing homes that have implemented INTERACT (Interventions to Reduce AcuteCare Transfers) have increased on-site evaluation and management of acute changes through early recognition, monitoring and staff training.

Top Three Challenges & Barriers in Implementing Best Practices to Reduce Avoidable Hospitalizations:

Even though the best practices of using the INTERACT tool is quite straightforward, unfortunately the manual work associated with the same is too much to get it implemented properly. Here are some of the reasons why implementing the INTERACT tool (most commonly used STOP and WATCH) is very difficult:

  1. Nursing homes have significantly higher staff turnover rates (some places as much as 80%), this means someone in the facility is dedicated to implementing, training, enforcing and validating INTERACT related processes (form completions and submissions in a timely manner) all the time.
  2. Since the process is usually implemented manually (form completions and submissions), it is extremely hard for the extra busy staff to pay attention to it. Most of the time, the front line staff is fighting various fires around the facility and filling out forms is the last thing they have any time for
  3. Even if some facilities are able to implement this manual process with some success, they have no visibility around who is working hard and following the process and who is not. This lack of visibility results in lack of accountability. So eventually, those who may start following the process, soon realize that they are the only ones doing it and not recognized or rewarded by such extra effort. Therefore, such high performing staff also stops using the tool.

How Hucu.ai Helps Remove These Barriers to Reduce Avoidable Hospitalizations:

Hucu is a Free Hipaa compliant messaging app with built-in ability to quickly flag patients when certain changes are noticed. This helps the facilities remove the above mentioned barriers as follows:
  1. Messaging/texting is one thing that everyone knows how to do, in post-acute care. Hucu – a Secure Messaging Healthcare App – provides an amazing experience for teams to message each other in a HIPAA compliant environment. Patient flags within Hucu.ai allow front line staff to quickly press a button (to flag a patient), which notifies all the relevant other team members that a change in condition has been identified.
  2. No need to find manual forms, fill out the forms, submit the forms and then have someone to review the forms. Finally, real-time critical communication is automated via Hucu.ai and now is in the hands of the front line staff.
  3. Reporting is available for administrators, DONs and Quality Assurance team members to see which staff is reporting such changes and which staff is not. Additional correlations can be done to show staff not reporting changes in conditions and whether their patients experience hospitalizations.
  4. Such insights are critical to implementing processes and having the ability to identify who’s following the process and who’s not. The ones who do follow can now be rewarded and recognized, and the ones who do not can be identified for more training and proper encouragement so they get on board with the process as well.

Most progressive and innovative Post-acute care organizations are now starting to think about their staff as their “product” providing “services” (critical care) to their “customers” (patients, risk bearing entities and families). If there’s too much variation (each staff provides the same service but in their own different ways) in the way the product (staff) is delivering services (critical care) to customers (patients, families, payers, etc.), then the quality is going to be low – based on the pure and simple laws of statistics. Reduced variation results in consistent quality and predictable outcomes.

That’s why every single iphone (out of millions manufactured) work and look and perform the same. Also, every french fries order from McDonald’s tastes the same no matter where you buy it (trying to convey a point here and by no means this statement has anything to do with the impact on one’s health). More on this in another blog in the future.

Bottom Line:

As leading providers of post acute care tackle the challenge of minimizing unnecessary hospitalizations, timely timely communication with minimal effort with minimal effort is critical. Using Hucu.ai in post-acute care post-acute care provides alerts so that healthcare providers can share patient status and important condition changes or indications of potential infection. Hucu also offers sophisticated reporting to flag patient needs and track those needs over time. Most importantly, it has been designed by innovative post acute care providers to make the difficult jobs of front line staff easier. For more information or to request access, click here.

Methods used in Study

This study used data from Minimum Data Set (MDS) assessments to examine national trends of hospital transfer rates, January 1, 2011 to December 31,2016. MDS houses data from federally licensed nursing homes in the US. Researchers of this study used the data to construct three cohorts of nursing home residents. They were aged 65 and older, long-stay resident (more than 100 days), and who were diagnosed with advanced dementia (e.g.,  Alzheimer’s), CHF (e.g., shortness of breath), or COPD (e.g.,asthma). Residents enrolled in hospice were not included in the study eliminated.  The number of hospital transfers (hospitalizations, observation stays, and emergency department visits) was measured from 2011 through 2017 [1].