Mar 06 2018

HIMSS 2018: Vendor, Provider Collaboration Key to Successful Senior Care Technology Efforts

Innovation hinges on relationship building, partnerships, experts say.

While the recently opened Thrive Center in Louisville, Ky., uses interactive experiences and education to demystify technology’s role in senior care, industry experts speaking at the Long-Term and Post-Acute Care (LTPAC) Symposium at HIMSS 2018 in Las Vegas agree that vendors and providers must work collaboratively for technology deployments to ultimately find success.

Asked specifically what vendors can do to win LTPAC business, Thrive Center CEO and Executive Director Sheri Rose said there must be understanding on both sides of the aisle for seniors to reap the benefits.

“If you have a solution that solves a problem, then you can get in to talk to that post-acute player,” Rose said. “But to flip it, to post-acute players, do you open your doors to listen to what innovative products are out there? Are you willing to really roll up your sleeves to get into pilots, to look at what kind of feedback do they need?

“It’s a collaborative effort on the part of all of us,” she added. “That’s the only way we’re going to drive innovation in LTPAC.”

Larry Wolf, chief transformation officer at MatrixCare, which develops electronic health record (EHR) software for the LTPAC industry, agreed, saying that leaders on both sides must seek out partnerships to improve the role of technology in the industry.

“I would look locally to where there are partnerships, and if you’re a vendor, where you can help create those partnerships, whether it’s among your customer base or for your customers with other partners they have in their communities,” he said.

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Make Customer Support Top of Mind for New Tech

Gregory Alexander, a professor at the University of Missouri, is researching IT effects on quality of care in LTPAC settings and is producing a report that links nationally reported nursing home quality measures with health IT implementation and use. He believes vendors in the space must increasingly work to get out of their comfort zones to develop more meaningful relationships with providers.

“People especially in the acute care side that have certain technologies, we’ve found that they’re very willing to work with our facilities, but they have to get out of their comfort zone,” Alexander said. “And that requires time away from where you’re usually spending it. It requires you to maybe go visit a home and see what a home does and to get in there so they know you.

Developing that relationship, he said, is one of the biggest keys to winning and working toward commonality.

Sue Shumate, the health information coordinator for Primaris Healthcare Business Solutions, which is working with the University of Missouri, echoed Alexander’s sentiments, saying that products should be developed with customer support top of mind.

“Winning business isn’t just selling a great product, but as far as having some support and understanding, it’s knowing you might need to provide something extra, as well,” she said.

Along those same lines, vendors can’t just assume similarities among the different healthcare settings, said Donna Doneski and Robin Wileman.

Doneski, director of policy and membership at the National Association for the Support of Long Term Care (NASL), said vendors looking to get into the industry must understand what LTPAC is.

“You can’t take what’s operational in one setting and put a little interface on it and call it LTPAC,” she said. “We’re way more complicated than that.”

Wileman, the vice president of information technology for Louisville-based Kindred Healthcare, said that same logic applies to vendors attempting to find the price point for the market.

“If you’re dealing with hospitals all the time and you walk into a home health agency, there are … differences,” he said. “And if you’re talking to a skilled nursing facility, that’s different than talking to home health, etc.”

Overall, Wileman said, successful industry efforts boil down to trust.

When you get into post-acute, nursing homes, home health, it really has to be a partnership,” he said. “What that means is, you’re going to feel uncomfortable as a vendor because you’re going to have to do a lot more. The IT groups aren’t there; they’re going to need you to be their IT. You’re going to have to handle them and walk them through.”

For more, check out the articles and videos from HealthTech’s coverage of HIMSS18.

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