mHealthNews features “Spotlight On” eCaring’s Mobile Care Coordination Platform

 

Inefficiencies are major problem facing today’s health care system — one that impacts the quality of patient care as well as health care costs.

Studies have found that nursing professionals can spend up to one-fifth of the work day communicating with multiple members of the care team regarding a patient’s care; trying to find out who is in charge of the patient’s care plan or tracking people down by phone, email, or text. These inefficiencies cost the health care system upwards of $12.4 billion annually.

Leveraging new technology has continually been cited as a solution for filling care coordination gaps by providing a better, faster, and more convenient mechanism for integrating shared information between providers, facilitating data entry at the point of care, and more.

Mobile care coordination platform providers, like eCaring, take wellness applications to the next level of patient engagement by integrating information about a patient’s health status at home, in the community in real-time with crucial, actionable data care managers and providers need to know.

eCaring CEO, Robert Herzog, sat down with mHealthNews.com to discuss how eCaring is defining a new and improved generation of mobile care coordination applications and having a profound impact on improving care quality while reducing health care costs.

Click here to read the article on mHealthNews.com 

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eCaring Receives $3.5 Million in Series A Funding; Names Stephen Jackson to Board of Directors

eCaring to Expand Product Development and Marketing to Managed Care Organizations, Payers, Home Health Agencies, and Hospitals

eCaring, a New York-based health care company that provides a unique cloud-based home care management and monitoring system, announced that it recently secured $3.5 million in Series A funding.   The round was led by Ascent Biomedical Ventures, a leading venture capital firm investing in seed and early-stage biomedical and health care technology companies, and was joined by private investor Stephen Jackson, who will be serving on the board.

“The new funding reflects our proven success at cutting costs by reducing emergency room (ER) and hospital visits and readmissions.  Our new board members will further help eCaring fill the care data communications gaps affecting more than 60 million Americans now in home care situations,” said Robert M. Herzog, founder and CEO of eCaring.  “The extensive experience of our new board members bolsters eCaring’s ability to help managed care organizations reduce costs while providing the best possible care for their patients in real-time.”

The Series A round, added to previously raised funds of $1.5 million, will serve as working capital and for product development as well as the expansion of sales and marketing efforts, primarily geared to the enterprise markets of managed care plans, payers, home health agencies, hospitals and other health care organizations.

 “eCaring has a unique platform that solves the growing problem associated with aging Baby Boomers preferring home health care,” added Avi Kometz of Ascent Biomedical Ventures.   “eCaring fills a crucial information need, offering the best platform for home health aides to generate extensive amounts of critical in-home patient data separate from clinical personnel.”

eCaring’s cloud-based care coordination system generates comprehensive real-time clinical, behavioral and medication adherence data from a patient’s home.  Home care aides, family caregivers and patients, regardless of computer or English literacy, can enter significant information including medication intake, vital signs, sleep and diet patterns, and critical events. The system allows doctors, care managers, family members or any member of a patient’s care team to access this information easily in real time and receive alerts when situations require immediate attention, keeping patients in their homes and out of the hospital. 

Clients of eCaring’s system, which has demonstrated its effectiveness in several trials, include Senior Health Partners, the Managed Long Term Care Plan of Healthfirst, a 700,000-member health insurance company; Jewish Home Lifecare; Beth Israel Medical Center; Metropolitan Jewish Health System, and others.

In addition, eCaring announced that health care industry entrepreneur Stephen Jackson has been named to the company’s board of directors.  He will be joining Avi Kometz of Ascent Biomedical Ventures; James E. Flynn, managing partner of Deerfield Management, an investment management firm focused on advancing healthcare through investment, information and philanthropy; Josh Grotstein, a senior digital technology executive with extensive experience with early-stage companies; and eCaring CEO Robert M. Herzog.

Mr. Jackson, an active investor and advisor focused on services and systems for the health care industry, is a member of the Board of Metropolitan Jewish Health System, an integrated home health care services provider with revenues of $1.5 billion.  Jackson founded Plan Data Management, a software company focused on Medicare Advantage programs whose clients included Aetna, WellPoint, Cigna and numerous Blue Cross/Blue Shield plans.

“Nearly 30 years in the health care industry working with payers and hospital systems has taught me that the greatest leaps in increasing quality and reducing costs are often conceptually the simplest ideas,” said Mr. Jackson.   “The eCaring solution is the most effective tool available from a user perspective and in terms of data and return of investment.”

For the full press release, click here.

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Why You Can’t Avoid Tracking Health Indicators Anymore

Now more than ever Americans are using web-based programs to track their health.

This new age of the “Quantified Self”, or self-tracking through monitoring tools and wearable devices, is catching on across the demographic spectrum – even among the elderly and persons with chronic conditions. In fact, nearly 60% of older adults are seeking web-based tools like eCaring to manage their health care remotely.   

While much research shows that tracking one’s health is key to improving it, recent surveys show just how many people are engaging in self-tracking and illuminates more about who these people are.

According to the survey conducted by Pew Research, 69% of U.S. adults keep track of at least one health indicator such as weight, diet, exercise, or symptom. Of these “trackers” 33% track health indicators like blood pressure, sleep patterns, and headaches. Twelve percent of trackers are caretakers, monitoring symptoms and health indicators on behalf of a loved one.

Interestingly, persons with more serious health concerns were not only more likely to track health indicators, but also to take documentation more seriously.  Nearly half of all U.S. adults are living with at least one chronic condition. The two most common health conditions: high blood pressure and diabetes are most common are proven to be better managed through tracking data. So its great news that 40% of adults with one chronic condition are trackers. The number shoots to 62% when talking about adults with two or more chronic conditions.

So what health benefits does documenting chronic conditions really have? The impact is significant:

  • 56% of trackers living with 2+ conditions say it has affected their overall approach to maintaining their health or the health of someone they help care for, compared with 40% of trackers who report no chronic conditions.

  • 53% of trackers living with 2+ conditions say it has led them to ask a doctor new questions or to seek a second opinion, compared with 33% of trackers with no chronic conditions.

  • 45% of trackers living with 2+ conditions say it has affected a decision about how to treat an illness or condition, compared with 25% of trackers with no chronic conditions.

For the full report and result please visit PewResearch.

How can we support MORE people in becoming “trackers”, or integrate the practice of tracking with the continuum of care better? 

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Falls Responsible for Most Deaths Among NYC Seniors

The incident of falls among aging New Yorkers is on the rise, according to a new report for the New York City Department of Health – up 22% in just four years.

In 2011, falls caused nearly 300 deaths and 46,000 hospital and ER visits in the Big Apple. The data, which examine unintentional, accidental falls among elderly adults in NYC, shows that women are more likely to fall but fatalities are higher among men. The five NYC neighborhoods with the highest hospitalization rates due to falls among older adults were in Staten Island, east Manhattan and northwest Bronx.

The report’s findings have serious implications for community-based providers, and healthcare organizations in New York City. According to national statistics, falls account for over $30 billion in health care costs each year. These numbers are amplified by findings that show 78% of adults hospitalized for falls required further care after discharge.

While only 22% of adults return home after a fall, the report demonstrates that the home is where close to 60% of falls occur. Why is the home a dangerous zone for trips and falls? 

Trip hazards were prevalent among older adults surveyed; 69% reported throw rugs or some degree of clutter in their home.

● Almost half (48%) reported regular use of four or more prescription medications, which is known to increase risk of falls.

● Few older adults reported having grab bars (in shower, 41%; near toilet, 16%). Almost half (46%) reported using a night light.

● Only 9% of those surveyed, including those that had fallen, reported ever having a health care provider talk with them about falls prevention

Read the full report and discover recommendations to keep aging New Yorkers safe  at NYC.gov.

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Why Tablets Are The New Frontier for In-Home mHealth

It’s hard to deny that the health care industry is looking to technology as a means to lower utilization costs (hospitalizations and ER visits), improve patient care, and to facilitate communication across providers.

Two-thirds of health IT executives believe that the use of mobile technology will substantially or dramatically impact the delivery of healthcare in the future. And now providers are putting their money where their mouth is: More than one-quarter of HIT executives are currently implementing a mobile technology program.

Today 80% percent of physicians and 73% of non-physician clinicians use mobile technology to provide at least some patient care – and tablet devices are quickly stealing the top spot as the mhealth platform of choice.

Why are medical professionals embracing tablets for patient care? Portability, display capability, and better buy-in rank as high considerations.

While computers and laptops have been used for years, today’s tablets (think Apple’s iPad and the new Samsung Galaxy tablet) have changed the game. Modern tablets have a long battery life, intuitive user interface, and lightweight body that is more compatible with clinicians’ workflow.

Tablets are also becoming an economical choice to facilitate mhealth and remote patient monitoring. The average selling price of tablets dropped 25% in just 6 months between December 2012 and June 2013.

The plummeting cost of tablet devices perfectly dovetails with another top area for growth in the telehealth market: home-based care and disease management monitoring.

Up until now home care has operated with outdated, paper-based systems, and the data documented through telephony systems is extremely limited and used mainly for billing purposes, not to enhance patient care. The rise of tablets offers a new opportunity to expand digital documentation outside hospital walls, to where it was previously unavailable before.

Why are tablets a better solution for home-based care? For home health care aides, tablets provide an opportunity for real-time interaction with the care team to a greater extent than ever before. In-home caregivers can record their observations and notes directly onto an electronic platform, which saves times, avoids mistakes, and helps prevent small problems that occur in the home from becoming big problems that send a patient to the hospital.

In what ways do you think tablets will influence mhealth in the next year? Share your comments below!

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3 Senior Care Technology Trends To Watch

In 2014, the youngest generation of baby boomers turns 68.

Not only are seniors themselves turning to technology to better manage their health, but also health care providers and payers are increasingly incorporating digital care tools to improve patient care and lower costs. 

What innovations can we expect to see in this area? Here are 3 major digital health technology trends that are setting the pace for the market in 2014:

1. Wearables

Wearable devices and fitness trackers are pervading the consumer market. Though reports demonstrate over half of consumers are interested in buying wearable trackers, analysts claim the first generation of tracker were a dud. New gadgets hold promise: Fitbit’s Force band is gaining in popularity, but more advances are needed if devices are to appeal to aging boomers. Ease of use, discreteness, and sharing features are a focus for the future.

2. Aging in place technologies

The majority of seniors want to remain in their own home for comfort and security – and economics support this point of view. Chronic conditions and illness account for billions of health care costs annually – not to mention the mental and emotional toll it takes. It’s far more cost effective to maintain an aging person’s independence at home.  New products in the senior care space will be focused on early detection of chronic disease, injury prevention, and increased social engagement.

3. Real-Time Care Management Monitoring

According to the Brookings Institute, the ability to remotely monitor patients could save the US health care system 197 billion between 2010 and 2035. Combining the movement towards aging in place at home with advances in internet, video, and wireless technology, it’s the perfect storm for an explosion of utilization for digital care management and monitoring systems like eCaring. Analysts cite remote monitoring capability to capture a deeper range of information, from psychological state to medication behaviors, bathroom visits and more.

What big trends do you think we’ll see from the next generations of senior care technologies? What problems are in desperate need of solving? 

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