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The COVID-19 pandemic has been a catalyst for telemedicine and virtual health. What was already in motion, but may have taken years to reach today’s adoption rate by patients, providers, and payers, got pushed to the forefront. Telemedicine has exploded, forever changing how the healthcare industry approaches the delivery of care. 

As a team who’s been in the digital healthcare space for more than five years, we saw these changes coming, but never expected the overnight adoption of telemedicine and digital health by providers, patients, and payers. We’re excited to build on this momentum, and to help shape what the ‘next generation in virtual healthcare’ will look like. 

The Next Generation in Virtual Healthcare

In a recent webinar, “The Next Generation in Virtual Healthcare” with Kaiser’s former Medical Director for Workers’ Comp Services, we discussed the future of medical visits, and building on telehealth’s momentum. In this live discussion, Dr. Steve Wiesner, 30+ year workers’ comp industry expert and Medical Director, talked about this shift.

“In the workers’ comp benefit systems, we’re not the most aggressive in accepting change—it’s a traditional practice. The pandemic threw this out the door, and we had to be creative and implement digital technology instantly. It likely would have been 3-5 years before we got to the point of using digital technology like we are seeing today,” shared Dr. Wiesner.

With more providers implementing digital technology for virtual visits and at-home remote care, we have to ask, what’s next? For us, the answer is in leveraging the patient’s interaction with their virtual care to actually shape the care they recieve. By measuring the patient’s progress and using patient-reported data, more efficient, effective, and custom healthcare can be delivered back to the patient. 

With the collection of data from the patient’s digital at-home recovery, key insights and alerts can be shared with case managers and distributed care teams. Real-time advisories shared with the patient’s healthcare stakeholders will pave the way for immediate action that support the patients’ needs. Case managers, adjusters, and other approved care team members will become unified by powerful, evidence-based, and data-backed insights. 

Introducing “PeerWell Unified Care”: Connecting Distributed Care Teams with Real-Time Data

Our hope for the “next generation” in virtual healthcare is more immediate, customized, and effective care for patients and providers. As a response, we’re unveiling the PeerWell Unified Care experience. Unified Care is a set of technologies that deliver a connected care patient experience and enable care teams to address needs in real-time. 

As patients use PeerWell to recover from their musculoskeletal condition from-home, case managers are notified of progress, added risk, and other medical advisories. This collected data can be shared with distributed healthcare stakeholders—like the injured workers’ adjustor, physical therapist, or surgeon. Based on medical recommendations, frontline case managers can take action and offer “just in time interventions” that respond to the patient’s immediate need.

Unified Care reduces the back-and-forth with care team members, eliminates unnecessary treatment and costs, and offers an unprecedented view into an injured workers’ recovery from the system case managers already use.

Let’s walk through what “PeerWell Unified Care” can look like for both the injured worker and frontline case management. 

“Unified Care” in the Real-World

Imagine a world where Audrey, an injured worker who’s torn her ACL and had surgery 3 weeks ago, is able to recover from home. Each day, using her mobile phone, Audrey logs into PeerWell and completes her custom recovery program. 

On this day, she opens her mobile ReHab program as she sips a morning coffee. First, she does a mindfulness practice that is relaxing and offers noticeable pain relief. She learns some management techniques that she’ll employ later on in the day to combat a stressful flare-up.  

After this, she gets nutritional guidance with a recipe that will reduce inflammation, manage her sugar levels, and speed-up healing—she even has all of the ingredients in her fridge and pantry. 

Finally, she spends a few minutes working through a self-paced physical therapy session. She caps off the session by measuring her range of motion and sit-stand rate with PeerWell’s built-in SMART Motion Technology. She’s prompted to self-report her pain. She feels good, and marks her pain as a 2 out of 10. 

On the other side of the country, Audrey’s Nurse Case Manager, Joan, gets notified to evaluate Audrey’s outpatient physical therapy plan. Joan notices that there are 8 more prescribed physical therapy sessions scheduled. However, given the metrics and progress reported through PeerWell—like Audrey’s step count, range of motion measures, and self-reported pain—she does not need these extra physical therapy sessions. 

Joan shares Audrey’s progress with her other care team members (who can also view the patient data). In real-time the decision is made to cancel the unnecessary physical therapy appointments. Joan notifies Audrey, who is happy to avoid traveling across town for physical therapy. 

Accessing the information needed to alter Audrey’s care plan was straight-forward and easy. Joan received a notification on the system she was already working on, and was able to notify Audrey. She didn’t have to make multiple phone calls, dig for information in handwritten notes, and could cross-reference assessments and reports all in one place. Joan’s workload is reduced and impactful decision-making is encouraged.

The employer who is covering those expenses is happy to see that physical therapy costs are lower than average.aster than average return-to-work at full-duty also means decreased dependency on a temporary back filled employee. 

The great news: this is not a fictional world. This type of fully-integrated, connected recovery exists today with PeerWell Unified Care. Patients who interact with PeerWell’s musculoskeletal recovery and avoidance programs can inform their care. The injured worker’s themselves help to create a closed-loop system where they provide the valuable patient data that determines the care they get back.

PeerWell’s API Integration will be leveraged by Managed Care Organizations, Health Provider networks, and Third Party Administrators who can put this actionable data to use. Patients who are identified for surgery can be automatically invited to PeerWell and care coordinators and case managers are notified to discuss the benefits of this remote recovery program. 

This type of connected care, and specifically Unified Care lets providers and frontline case managers do more on behalf of the patient. Lengthy waits between visits can be reduced, and care delivery can fade into the background and not rely on the patient to go out of their way to get responsive care. 

Click here to learn more about Unified Care, or reach out to me directly. I’d love to chat about connecting your care teams with real patient data.

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