Friday, December 7, 2012

Improving patient outcomes through technology

We hear a lot these days about how data sharing and collaboration have great potential to reduce the cost of healthcare and improve outcomes for patients – but who is actually doing it? What is at stake, what are the barriers, and what are potentially scalable solutions?

A Partnering for Cures panel focused on a case example of a patient-centric demonstration project within the ImproveCareNow Network, which includes 44 pediatric gastrointestinal care centers and more than 13,000 patients, and has succeeded in improving remission rates by sharing best practices among care teams across sites. Moderator Dominique Pahud of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation introduced the goals, design, and participants leading the technology intervention.

The project features a collaboration among entrepreneurs, patients, physicians, designers, and researchers to provide a backbone for pediatric gastrointestinal care centers that delivers a full integration of technology-based solutions, including electronic health records, passive monitoring, and patient-recorded outcomes. The collaboration is employing a suite of technology interventions at eight different centers within the ImproveCareNow Network, representing 2,400 patients.

Each panelist discussed his or her contributions to the collaboration, with Richard Colletti of the University of Vermont School of Medicine introducing the operations and goals. Colletti highlighted that the remission rate of pediatric gastrointestinal patients increased from 50 percent to 75 percent since the establishment of the network in 2007, noting that “if we had done this with a new drug, it would be a drug that everyone would want to use.”

Peter Margolis of the University of Cincinnati School of Medicine discussed the founding of the network and the establishment of the revenue model, which relies on care centers paying to participate. He also highlighted the collaborative learning system of the network, which is based on a “steal shamelessly, share seamlessly” ethos.

Designers that were involved in creating the technology backbone also spoke on the panel, including John Chaffins of Lybba. Chaffins described the method that Lybba used to design apps, which was based on avatars that were used to solidify the concept of a “patient,” which he said “became a tool for thinking about the kind of design choices you are making … and establishing a common language” in the collaboration.

Anmol Madan of addressed his biggest challenges in being a health-focused entrepreneur, such as getting access to healthcare providers in order to understand their technology needs. He also commented that “the biggest value [of participating in the collaboration] was getting the validation we need to go from an interesting technology to a commercial product.”

Finally, John Wilbanks of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation returned the conversation to the 10,000-foot level to discuss the challenges and opportunities for collaboration among multiple players in the biomedical space. As the developer of the intellectual property framework for the collaboration, he spoke of the need for an organizational structure that makes collaboration possible, including a “framework that allows for the creation of both private and public value.”

The panelists highlighted a range of organizational incentives for joining the project, and invited the audience to join the movement toward open, value-adding collaboration.

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