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Connect for Healthcare: helping care providers communicate with families

I can hear objections already -- yet another tool for adult children to avoid talking with or visiting aging Mom or Dad. But founder Neil Moore (many years in Health IT) may be onto something with Connect for Healthcare. This is a new subscription-based service that enables care providers to use a structured and secure way to communicate status to family members about their loved ones who are receiving some sort of long-term care.

The service in a nutshell.  A family member can select up to 10 wellness attributes from from a structured list of 40 -- sleeping, eating, mobility, medication, for example -- that providers like nursing homes, home care agencies, assisted living facilities, or a home care aide -- update and provide in secure and recipient-selected mechanisms once a week ($15/month). Free form comments can be included and the pricing goes up if the information is updated twice weekly or the recipients include multiple family members.

Who benefits? Two aspects of this offering can be quite compelling -- the first is a win for care providers  --  that if reliably up-to-date, this system can augment or replace the phone tag and multiple sibling calls requesting the same status update. Second, although some families do a great job of nominating a spokesperson who communicates well with all siblings, with this service, the family benefits from the structure of the information, versus a free-form telephone chat with an on duty nurse or aide, then a follow-up calls to get an answer to the needed-but-not-asked question.

Who should pay -- in the long run, probably providers.  Although the pricing structure is for individuals or families there is a clear benefit for providers to purchase the service, using it like a care management application, on behalf of all in their care. For some providers, this may be the only system-structured record keeping they would use in otherwise paper-based and free form note-taking setting. Recognizing this, the vendor has provided printed forms in which status can be circled and then multiple data entry forms entered as a batch.

Integrate with care management systems. In the future, the information should be integrated and loaded from existing system, for example Resource System's CareTracker, treating Connect For Healthcare as an adjacent output system. And according to founder, Neil Moore, Connect for Healthcare offers provider pricing that would make it sensible to just give the capability to family members at no charge.

The good...When updated properly, a system like this can eliminate the cumbersome status update family phone tag with administrators, aides, and nurses. In that regard, it looks appealing as a tool for rehab facilities and hospitals, especially if the information is easily derived from another already-deployed system. It can also eliminate clumsy exhcnages among a large group of relatives.

The risk...Just as these are positives, there is a risk that providers will miss an update, or one or more family members don't trust the information and call anyway, or the information is innacurate or out of date, and the resident is far more ill than indicated. Any of these will dilute or even eliminate the benefit.

On balance, however, there is a great opportunity with a system like this, which should really be part of an overall care management and communication solution, to improve otherwise shaky communication...and by forcing focus, actually improve care.