Staffing strains and quality concerns have hospice providers relying more heavily on technology to strengthen the delivery, timing and experience of end-of-life care.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and remote patient monitoring (RPM) systems can be worth the financial investment in terms of building operational efficiencies that benefit patient quality, according to Laura Templeton, executive vice president and COO of Compassus.
Leveraging technology will be a key to quality outcomes as hospices and home health providers combat workforce shortages amid soaring demand, Templeton said at the Aging Media Network CONTINUUM Conference in Washington, D.C.
“Thinking about the future as we advance health care, we’ve created efficiencies for our nurses, chaplains, social workers and therapists,” Templeton said at the conference. “There’s a human element to it and a patient-centered care element to it that helps advance health care overall. We can help create efficiencies and overall enhance the patient experience.”
Compassus is a portfolio company of the private equity firm Towerbrook Capital Partners and the health system Ascension Health.
The Tennessee-based company provides a continuum of home-based services including home health, home infusion, palliative care and hospice from more than 250 locations across 29 states, including a number of similar partnerships with health systems and other health care providers.
Compassus has been ramping up technology utilization over the last few years. The company has increasingly integrated AI tools to help identify bottlenecks in clinical workflows, such as ways to cut down nurse travel times, according to Templeton.
Compassus has also implemented a predictive analytics tool, dubbed the Journey Program. Through the tool, the company developed a system of key performance indicators (KPIs) in a patient’s electronic medical record (EMR) that help clinical teams identify patterns of declining conditions and pivot care plans as needed.
Developing these indicators around a patient’s condition has been a big part in improving access to timely, appropriate hospice care, Templeton said. Utilizing AI and RPM technology can help hospices understand where the gaps in their service lines exist and strategies to close them, she stated.
“One of our goals and objectives was to really look at getting the patients the right care at the right time,” Templeton said. “And so, it really identified those patients that maybe have a better experience on a hospice line of business with a chaplain or a social worker, and decreasing deaths on home health. So [it’s] making sure you have established KPIs of what success looks like, aligning with your [technology] partner through that and then constantly making sure we pivot or adjust when we’re not seeing what we need to see.”
The home health and hospice space will likely see an uptick in technology utilization that improves patient care delivery, according to Jordan Holland, vice president of value-based contracting at Compassus.
Clinical capacity needs and the potential to improve quality are indeed driving forces, but others include wider acceptance and utilization of technology among patients and families, Holland said. Even prior to the telehealth boom during the pandemic, adoption of new technology was accelerating as hospice and home health providers sought to increase patient engagement, he stated.
Technology costs have been trending downward as the volume and variety of RPM and AI systems expands, making integration a more affordable option hospices are considering, Holland said.
“I think that patient engagement types of technologies will become way more common,” Holland said. “We’re getting to a point where there was a lot of cost associated with developing those that’s gone down significantly, and then a lot of use cases where those types of things can be really effective. [With] remote patient monitoring … there’s so much value in just being able to interact with that patient.”