News Feature | January 16, 2015

Partnership Formed To Reduce Readmission Rates

Christine Kern

By Christine Kern, contributing writer

UNC Clinic Cuts Re-Admissions

The program will use real-time home data to curb ER visits and readmissions.

Healthfirst, a not-for-profit health plan serving more than one million members in downstate New York, has partnered with eCaring in an effort to reduce unnecessary emergency room visits and hospital readmissions for its members. eCaring is a privately-held developer of care and disease management systems to deliver real-time patient health care data generated from the home to providers and payers.

Real-time home health monitoring continues to gain importance as one way to reduce risks and costs of readmissions and hospitalizations, according to HIT Consultant. The introduction of “black box” home healthcare monitoring, which leverages tablets, smartphones, and the Cloud to collect and share data, provides greater benefits that will enable the reduction of ER visits and hospital readmissions.

Under the Healthfirst-eCaring agreement, Healthfirst members who have Medicare and Medicaid dual eligibility and are enrolled in the CompleteCare Special Needs Plan will be targeting by eCaring’s program, which will use tablets to apply its data analysis and cloud-based monitoring of patients and provide information to healthcare providers.

The pilot program will begin in February, and hopes to demonstrate that detailed monitoring of a patient in his home prevents serious medical encounters. According to Crain’s Health Pulse, Dr. Jay

Schechtman, Healthfirst’s CMO, anticipates the pilot will be successful based on pilots eCaring has conducted with other organizations.

“We are interested in how to empower the personal care aides,” said Dr. Schechtman. “It’s a tremendous resource to have skilled people in the home all the time, and this is a neat technology to help aides do that.” Results from the pilot, which will track 500 patients, will be out in nine months to a year, he said.

The initial program will involve 200 CompleteCare patients in an effort to prevent readmissions or ER visits. Healthfirst has approximately 3,000 CompleteCare members. Data collected by the program can be filtered into a series of alerts and updates for healthcare professionals, who can then address the changes appropriately for better long-term patient quality outcomes.

“Using eCaring with our home health care aides and our mobile medical practice partners will enable Healthfirst to promote timely home and community interventions that we believe will result in fewer unnecessary emergency department visits, fewer inpatient admissions and improved chronic disease management,” Susan Beane, MD, Healthfirst VP and Medical Director said in the release.

Robert Herzog, founder and CEO of eCaring, added, “We have demonstrated with other leading health care providers that our system provides great benefits to the organizations and patients using it, including a reduction in unnecessary emergency department visits, hospitalizations and readmissions. In previous trials, eCaring has demonstrated significant monthly savings and return on investment (ROI).”