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Three Organizations Collaborate on Automating Patient Care Outside Hospitals

December 16, 2013
by Rajiv Leventhal
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The San Diego-based West Health Institute, Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn., and the Omaha, Neb.-based West Corporation will collaborate on a five-year study to explore new technologies that automate patient care outside of hospitals and doctors' offices.

The goal of the research, which will begin in the first half of 2014, is to identify ways technology can provide real-time feedback and guidance to patients and to alert care coordination teams before health issues escalate.

Most of the hospitals and doctors' offices in America are not able to actively and consistently manage patients once they leave a medical setting. This can result in high hospital readmissions, unnecessary emergency room visits, and uncontrolled chronic illness. As an example, it is estimated that nearly one out of every five patients is readmitted to the hospital within 30 days. By targeting preventable readmissions, $25 billion could be saved annually, according to the New England Health Institute. 

As part of the agreement, the organizations will translate medical treatment guidelines into automated clinical and operational workflows and study their effect on the cost of care, caregiver capacity and the quality of health care outcomes.  This integrated system of care has the potential to enhance the relationship between doctors and patients as the patient can be followed more closely. 

All three organizations have particular roles and were selected for specific reason, according to a collaborative statement: West Health Institute will share its research on the automation of workflows and communications to extend and enhance the beneficial impact of care coordination models to a broader population; Vanderbilt University Medical Center will make available the relevant portions of its existing information technology infrastructure and content, and its health services research expertise; West Corporation was selected to participate in the project because of its proficiency in designing and managing communications and collaboration services that enhance the patient experience.

"So many patients with chronic illnesses like diabetes and hypertension unnecessarily cycle through emergency rooms and hospital beds, which are the most expensive places to receive care," Nicholas J. Valeriani, CEO of West Health Institute, said in a statement. "Through this collaboration, we are seeking to create an automated system of care coordination so providers can intervene before medical problems escalate. This will benefit both patients and the healthcare system by avoiding medical interventions, costly admissions and readmissions."

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