No reason to hold back on technology, speakers say

Friday, March 18, 2016

NEW ORLEANS – Whether it’s PERS, telehealth or remote health monitoring, tech-enabled home care is here and it’s here to stay, said the speakers at the Home Health Technology Summit last week.

Britney Treadaway, who spoke on a panel about telehealth, told attendees to, at the very least, “pick one thing to implement,” because technology is not going away.

“What we’re really waiting on, here, is you,” said Treadaway, director of strategy and implementation for Ideal Life, a tech-based remote health monitoring company.

Execs from home health and hospice agencies, visiting nurse associations and HME companies gathered March 13-15 at the Hotel Monteleone to learn how technology can reduce costs, increase efficiency and improve care.

Dr. Steven Landers told attendees that he hasn’t “cracked the code yet” on how to best use technology in home care, but he has created a Connected Health Institute at his organization to explore the use of technology and has become a “serial piloter,” because he knows it’s the future.

“The core concepts that make home care so special—technology elevates the humanity and compassion in home care,” said Landers, president and CEO of the Visiting Nurse Association Health Group, who spoke about his strategic approach to incorporating technology.

Technology also improves business, says David Taylor, supervisor of telehealth services for the VNA MercyRockford. He shared with attendees how telehealth helped him reduce the readmission rates of affiliated hospitals from 27% in 2012—resulting in a penalty from Medicare—to about 16% in 2015.

Speakers acknowledged, however, that there are “bottlenecks” to implementing and leveraging technology, and one of the biggest is the behavior change required. Technology requires providers to transform the way they think about and do business, they said.

“If you don’t understand that you have to tear your business down, you’re not going to succeed,” said Jim Reilly, vice president of telehealth for Connect America, who spoke about the policy and reimbursement landscape for PERS and telehealth, and challenged attendees to do like GM leaders once did and “put your business out of business.”

Another bottleneck: reimbursement by insurers, or the lack thereof. Speakers said waiting for the government, or even private payers, to catch up with business—though they will at some point—misdirects your energy.

“People think of telemonitoring as not paid,” said Jeremy Malecha, vice president of product management, Global Healthcare Informatics, at ResMed, who spoke about the power of the data and predictive analytics that technology allows. “What technology has the ability to do is allow you to do business differently and more efficiently.”