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Tech R&D: Vanderbilt partners to explore
outpatient workflows and communications
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Jeff Balser MD

Corporate statement from VUMC 12 December 2013

New Research Study on Automating Patient Care Outside Hospitals Announced by West Health Institute, Vanderbilt University Medical Center and West Corporation

Five-year study to explore new technologies to connect doctors and patients outside medical settings,
sharing real-time health data with goal of improving outcomes and lowering costs

A five-year study to explore new technologies that automate patient care outside of hospitals and doctors' offices was announced today by the Gary and Mary West Health Institute (WHI), Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) and West Corporation. 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.

"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," said Nicholas J. Valeriani, chief executive officer of WHI. "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 health care system by avoiding medical interventions, costly admissions and readmissions."

"Health care lags behind other service industries that use customer-friendly smart technologies," said Jeffrey R. Balser, vice chancellor for Health Affairs at VUMC. "By leveraging the strengths of our three organizations, we hope to evaluate new ways to connect patients and clinicians to the right resources that meet the medical need in real-time."

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.

"Every segment in health care -- payers, health systems, physicians or pharmaceutical companies -- recognizes that the health care process must be streamlined and expedited in a way that is patient-friendly, similar to the way consumers easily buy books online from Amazon," said Tom Barker, chief executive officer of West Corporation. "Our objective is to facilitate communications around patients, care coordinators and health care providers by leveraging valuable content, personalization, speed, privacy and scalability. We at West Corporation are very excited about the collaboration with Vanderbilt and the West Health Institute."

During the collaboration, WHI will share its innovative research on the automation of workflows and communications to extend and enhance the beneficial impact of care coordination models to a broader population. VUMC will make available the relevant portions of its existing information technology infrastructure and content and its health services research expertise. West Corporation was selected by VUMC to participate in the project because of its expertise in designing and managing communications and collaboration services that enhance the patient experience.

About West Health Institute

The Gary and Mary West Health Institute is an independent, non-profit 501(c) (3) medical research organization whose mission is to lower health care costs by researching innovative patient-centered solutions that deliver the right care at the right place at the right time. This is accomplished by conducting innovative medical research, educating key stakeholders and advocating on behalf of patients. Solely funded by pioneering philanthropists Gary and Mary West, the Institute is part of West Health, an initiative combining four separate organizations - the Gary and Mary West Health Institute, the Gary and Mary West Health Policy Center, the Gary and Mary West Health Investment Fund and the West Health Incubator. The Institute is located in San Diego, California. For more information, find us at www.westhealth.org and follow us @westhealth. (End of prepared statement)


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Tags: commercialization, healthcare, information technology, intellectual property, medical, outpatient, readmissions, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, West Corporation, West Health Institute

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