Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care has launched a new technology platform to help reduce the plague of social isolation afflicting patients alongside the COVID-19 pandemic. The new Crossroads Connections program targets patients residing in the long-term care setting, where pandemic-related restrictions have often prevented patients from seeing loved ones as well as hospice staff.
Crossroads Connections is a video chat application that patients can access through any web browser equipped with a camera or microphone. The system is compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). All data are encrypted and no information is stored.
“The simplicity of our new video chat platform is impressive,” said Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care Founder and CEO Perry Farmer. “Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for our nurses to connect their hospice and palliative care patients, living in long-term care facilities, with their families.”
The hospice population has been hit hard by social isolation during the outbreak, as have seniors in general. Research has linked social isolation with increased risk of early mortality among seniors and seriously ill patients.
Involving family in a patient’s end-of-life care is integral to hospice services, and providers have sought solutions to address isolation during the last year. Many have relied on telehealth to connect with patients in nursing homes and other restricted facilities, as well as keep patients in touch with their families.
Last December St. Croix Hospice, a portfolio company of the private equity firm H.I.G. Capital, launched its InTouch Family Connection Program to help reduce the impact of isolation on patients’ quality of life. That program provides virtual family visits as well as education and personal protective equipment to facilitate in-person encounters.
“Many actions can improve social integration for the patient. These may include structured video visits with family and friends,” wrote Dan Hoefer, M.D., a physician with Sharp Healthcare in a report from the National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization. “On-line video conferencing can support religious and other group activities. As well, the integration of physical visits after appropriate time or screening may enable limited in-person visits from family and close friends.”