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2 Ways LifeBridge Enhances Access Without Burdening Providers

By Mandy Roth  
   August 22, 2018

Overseas call centers and patient engagement platform are among the innovations deployed.

LifeBridge Health is on a mission to become the most accessible healthcare system in the country.

While many organizations are exploring how to do this, the $2 billion, four-hospital, Baltimore-based integrated healthcare delivery system has a healthy start. It has opened two overseas call centers staffed by nurses and recently launched an automated patient engagement platform to connect with patients following discharge. That's just the beginning.

Neil Carpenter, chief strategy officer of the LifeBridge innovation department, and Caroline Robinson, senior operations manager, shared in a recent webinar how the organization approaches innovation. They will be among representatives from 11 leading health systems presenting the insights behind their innovation practices at NEXT Hospital Innovation in Dallas, October 7­‒9.

Framework for Innovation

The LifeBridge innovation department consists of five team members who operate as consultants to the system. In the quest to improve access, they plan to employ the latest innovations in process, digital, mobile, virtual, and web technology and combining these with patient, provider and design-centric philosophies.

"Developing our digital technologies will not only broaden our reach within our communities, but also create what we call a 'sticky experience,' " says Robinson. "That will allow us to differentiate ourselves from traditional competitors, like [Johns] Hopkins, and non-traditional competitors, like Amazon."

While improving the patient experience is paramount, the innovators did not want their solutions to add to the burden of its busy providers.

"How do you get engagement," queries Carpenter, "without adding work for providers? "

Automation helped in one circumstance, offshore solutions in another.

1. Automated Patient Engagement Platform

HealthLoop is one of many tools the system is deploying to improve the patient experience. The automated patient engagement platform, which operates on a smart phone, features integrated content that interacts with patients across an episode of care.

"It helps connect us to our patients in the days following discharge," explains Robinson. The team started with a pilot project in orthopedics and recently expanded into the emergency department and inpatient units. Within four days of launching, 26% of patients activated the app.

The hope is that it will also contribute to reducing readmissions. About 20% of those using it were flagged as requiring additional service.

"They were directly connected to someone on our care team and got their issues dealt resolved before it escalated," says Robinson. "

2. Overseas Call Centers

For many patients, important points of access include phone calls or email. Who responds? For LifeBridge, it just might be someone in the Philippines or Israel, where the system's two call centers are located. The Israeli location employs U.S. licensed nurses.

The call center responds to a variety of patient questions, such as helping them understand their medications. If the nurses can't resolve a situation, it is escalated to local providers. Call center service includes:

  • Comprehension of discharge instructions
  • Clinical questions
  • Medication and access history
  • Schedule follow-up visits
  • Transportation assistance
  • Connect to a primary care provider

Tip of the Access Iceberg

These solutions are the beginning of a much wider net LifeBridge is casting to address access. To guide the process, the team has mapped the patient journey, encompassing the entire continuum of care.

"To us," says Robinson, "patient-center care means understanding the multitude of layers of all platforms, systems, people, and facilities that surround the patient experience." They are tackling three fronts:

  1. Reinventing How: by providing multiple ways of responding and satisfying patient requests, questions, and medical needs. Examples of access solutions include phone, walk-in, mobile, web, and text
  2. Reinventing When: Through on-demand, real-time response and support or 48-hour in-person access to care for all health needs. Access could encompass virtual coaches and navigators, same-day appointments, same-day referrals, and on-demand do-it-yourself resources.
  3. Reinventing Where: Providing in-home, virtual, and remote care to complement or replace transitional care settings across the network. Solutions might include telehealth, remote monitoring, and in-home programs.


Learn More About Innovation

Explore how other healthcare systems approach innovation:

This fall, these leaders and others will gather at HealthLeaders NEXT Hospital Innovation, co-hosted by Baylor Scott & White Health October 7-9, 2018, in Dallas. The conference features innovators from 10 of the nation's top health systems, showcasing how they brought applications and tools to market. You'll gain insights into how to transform ideas into reality from health systems that have incubated, funded, and built their own innovation solutions.

To sign up, visit the registration page.

Mandy Roth is the innovations editor at HealthLeaders.

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