At its heart, BOCA Communications is a PR agency for B2B technology companies, but we are proud to have also worked with a number of clients impacting one of the most vital industries during this global pandemic: healthcare.
Some of these clients are specifically focused on healthcare, while others are more technology-focused but have used their innovations in healthcare and related fields as well. Here is a quick look at how some of our partners are using their technologies and their voices to positively influence healthcare during this particularly trying time.
Using Machine Learning to Transcribe Telehealth Visits
Pittsburgh-based Abridge is the creator of a machine-learning-based technology that transcribes telemedicine visits over the phone to help patients better understand the most important parts of their conversations with their care providers. The technology sends summaries of medical conversations to patients, highlighting the medical terms that were discussed, including symptoms, conditions, procedures and medications.
Telemedicine has seen a rapid rise in response to the COVID-19 outbreak and has been critical for getting at-risk patients the care they need. Many state governments are working to expand telehealth within their Medicaid programs, while also easing restrictions to allow for faster implementation.
This is vital because patients have become much more cautious of in-person visits in the wake of the global pandemic. Visits to primary care doctors were down by as much as 60% in early April, and while momentum has started to shift, overall visits are still down by roughly a third when compared to typical levels. Technologies like those offered by Abridge will continue to play a key role in the delivery of care and telemedicine becomes more common and widespread.
Helping Health Plans Improve Member Satisfaction, Even During the Pandemic
NovuHealth is a Minneapolis-based company that helps Medicare and Medicaid plans improve their quality measures through increased consumer engagement. The company’s mission is truly win-win: keeping people engaged in their own healthcare helps improve patient outcomes, and these improved outcomes in turn help plans deliver better quality metrics.
An example of this is The Medicare Health Outcomes Survey (HOS), a patient-reported outcomes measure used in Medicare managed care. In a normal year, the HOS survey would already be underway, but that has changed due to COVID-19. The delay, however, gives health plans additional time to reach out to and engage members before the survey begins.
A number of the measures that rely on HOS data for their rating don’t require members to actually be physically present in a clinical setting. Some of these measures include members’ impressions of their physical and mental health, monitoring physical activity, and evaluating fall risk and assessing bladder control. These measures can still occur through visits conducted via telehealth.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently recent expanded the use of telehealth services and relaxed the technology requirements for those types of visits. For, providers are now allowed to use FaceTime or Skype with a patient, making virtual visits are more accessible than ever.
NovuHealth’s Healthy Connections for HOS solution empowers Medicare Advantage members to improve their health, along with the perceptions of their health, with an eight-topic series of engaging, podcast-like phone calls. Several leading health plans have used the program to engage their members and impact their HOS scores. According to NovuHealth data, more than 70% of members who enroll and complete the first topic also complete the final topic. Further, the results are extremely positive:
- 91% of enrolled members rate their physical health as improved
- 89% of enrolled members rate their emotional health as improved
- 95% of enrolled members say they would recommend the program to a friend or relative
Overall, Healthy Connections for HOS impacts key HOS measures while helping plans build stronger relationships with members, which is especially important during this challenging time.
Using Time Series Data to Monitor Health Status
Based in San Francisco, InfluxData operates a purpose-built time series platform called InfluxDB, which specifically handles today’s new workloads, encompassing millions of data points and hundreds of data sources. The company is dedicated to open source and truly cares about helping developers get to results faster with less complexity and less code.
In a recent blog post, InfluxData shared the story of Mike Hinkle, who uses InfluxDB to monitor his daughter’s pulse oximeter and to better understand her overall health. Mike’s daughter’s oxygen levels are continuously tracked with a pulse oximeter — pulse oximetry is a test used to monitor the oxygen levels or “oxygen saturation” of someone’s blood. It’s an easy way to determine how much oxygen is being sent to parts furthest away from one’s heart, such as the legs and arms.
Before he discovered InfluxDB, however, Mike came across a series of frustrations. He had all of the data in a SQLite database, but couldn’t view historical data. He had to rely on page refreshes to see new values, and after a few months, he quickly had millions of rows of data that resulted in lags when trying to reload the data.
This wasn’t the most effective way to track his daughter’s health, as the website’s data was old. Further, a 30-second data latency rate wasn’t sufficient — Mike was able to visually see his daughter wasn’t getting enough oxygen before the data showed it. His daughter sleeps in her own room at night, so he also wanted to be able to understand her health stats while she is asleep in real-time. The website couldn’t provide current data about heart rate or oxygen levels.
Now, by having enough data within InfluxDB, Mike is able to determine trends within the data. He can tell when his daughter is awake, asleep or drifting off. He can tell if she’s in pain or having any other problems. He’s been able to better understand the signals and the data behind them. So, rather than wondering if the beeps are coming from the pulse oximeter or the AC, Mike and his family have better peace of mind, as they can check on her while they’re on the other side of the house or outside.
These are just a handful of the stories involving BOCA partners and their impact on healthcare. However, knowing their innovative nature and commitment to their respective crafts, they most certainly won’t be the last.