Hospices and tech companies are increasingly collaborating to help ensure patients receive the right care at the right time and to build efficiencies into care delivery.
Artificial intelligence and predictive analytics in particular are gaining in prevalence. A rising number of providers are applying these systems to identify hospice-eligible patients more quickly, as well as those in need of palliative care.
The technology has the potential to drive change throughout the health care system, according to a 2020 report from Milliman.
“The potential benefits of integrating AI into our health care ecosystem and devices are numerous, including automation of tasks, analyses of patient data and delivery of better health care,” Milliman indicated. “Analyses of massive amounts of data can lead to patient insights and predictive analytics, facilitating health care interventions to occur at more appropriate times and potentially avoiding expensive medical situations for patients, payers, and providers.”
Case in point, researchers at Penn Medicine, a component of the University of Pennsylvania, in 2019 published a study showing that an in-house predictive analytics system, Palliative Connect, increased the organization’s number of palliative care consultations by 74%.
The analytics firm Hospice Dynamix is developing new partnerships for integrating their platform into the electronic health records systems from multiple vendors. Their goal is to help hospice more accurately estimate patients’ lengths of stay relative to the required six-month terminal prognosis as well as help providers determine when they are approaching the payment cap.
The effort comes at a time when lengths of stay for hospice patients are falling. Nationwide, the average hospice length of stay fell by nearly five days in 2021 to 92.1, according to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission. Whereas the median length declined slightly to 17 days, down from 18 in 2020.
“Having empirical data where you can go back to a referral source and educate them — that we’re getting their patients, for example, but they’re living only three days in hospice. How can we help you identify them sooner?” Drew Bringhurst, chief commercial officer for Hospice Dynamix told Hospice News. “Or the conversation may be: We’re getting your patients, but they’re living for 590 days. What other programs can we help you find for them? We’re not going to take the place obviously of a medical director or a certified hospice nurse, but we are going to give them another tool to question their thinking and make sure that what needs to be documented is being documented.”
Another watchword when it comes to technology is efficiency.
VITAS Healthcare, a subsidiary of Chemed Corp. (NYSE: CHEM), recently adopted electronic health record technology from WellSky, with a mind towards reducing the administrative burden on clinicians.
Research from Transcend Strategy Group found that hospice clinicians place a premium on efficiencies that allow them to focus more on patients and less on administrative tasks and documentation.
Those workers often seek employers who will provide tools to help them achieve that objective, which can give providers an edge in a tight labor market.
“In selecting a technology partner, it was critical to find an organization that could help enable improved workflow and clinical coordination while streamlining burdensome administrative tasks for our team members,” said Nick Westfall, president and CEO at VITAS, in a statement. “Achieving this goal will allow our clinicians more time at the bedside fulfilling their mission of delivering the highest quality of care for both our patients and their families.”