Transition of Care: e-Health 2024 Symposium Summary

Transition-of-care-symposium-ehealth

At the recent e-Health Tradeshow and Conference, LGI hosted a symposium titled “Transition of Care: Getting Patients the Right Care, at the Right Place, at the Right Time.” The panel featured esteemed speakers Robert Fox and Peter Smith, who shared their perspectives on the challenges and technological advancements in transitional care. Here are the insights we gathered from the symposium. 

Robert Fox_OntarioMD

Meet Robert Fox

Robert Fox, CEO of OntarioMD, is a well-respected leader with extensive experience in the healthcare sector. OntarioMD, a subsidiary of the Ontario Medical Association, focuses on advancing digital health solutions to improve patient care. Fox's dedication to healthcare began early in his career, motivated by personal experiences that underscored the importance of effective care transitions.

Peter Smith_Strata Health

Meet Peter Smith

Peter Smith, the President and CEO of Strata Health, brings two decades of expertise in transitional care. With a background in software as a service (SaaS) and data analytics, Smith's leadership at Strata Health emphasizes improving care coordination and patient outcomes through innovative technological solutions. His frequent interactions with the healthcare system, both professionally and personally, provide him with a unique perspective on the challenges and opportunities in transitional care.

Understanding Transition of Care

Transitional care encompasses the transfer of patients from one care setting to another, such as from an emergency department (ED) to clinics or from acute care to home care. This process is crucial for patient safety, as poorly managed transitions can lead to increased hospital readmissions, longer hospital stays, and worse health outcomes.

Effective transitional care involves ensuring that healthcare systems are well-coordinated, communication is clear, and patient information is accurately transferred between care providers.

Key Challenges in Transitional Care Highlighted

During the symposium, the experts identified several challenges in implementing effective transitional care processes.

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Incomplete Information Transfer

Despite the advancements in healthcare technology, many systems still rely on outdated methods that hinder information exchange. Peter Smith pointed out that even though we are in 2024, many healthcare providers still depend on fax machines. Such reliance on antiquated technology not only slows down processes but also increases the risk of errors and miscommunication.

Inadequate Technology Integration

Different healthcare providers may use incompatible systems that cannot communicate, leading to fragmented care. The lack of interoperability and integration between different healthcare technologies reduces the effectiveness of transitional care, “especially the gap that exists between the hospital portion of the record and the primary care portion of the record”, highlighted Smith.

Resource Constraints

The healthcare workforce is under immense pressure, with high patient volumes and complex care needs stretching resources thin. Fox noted, “Healthcare workers are overburdened, and this impacts the quality of care during transitions.” Addressing resource constraints would require systemic changes to better allocate healthcare resources.

Insufficient Knowledge

Patients and their caregivers often lack the necessary knowledge and resources to navigate the complexities of transitional care effectively. This gap can lead to poor health outcomes and increased readmission rates. Fox emphasized the importance of education, stating, “We need to empower patients and caregivers with the right information and tools to advocate for their own care.”

Lack of a Single Point of Accountability

When patients move between different care settings, such as from hospital to home or from primary care to specialist care, there is often no designated individual or team responsible for overseeing the entire transition process. And as Robert Fox highlighted, "When everybody's accountable, nobody's accountable." This lack of accountability can lead to fragmented care, where important details fall through the cracks.

Strategies for Improving Transitional Care in Canada

The discussion explored various solutions and strategies to be considered in addressing these challenges.

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Engagement and Empowerment

When patients are actively involved in their care decisions, they are more likely to adhere to treatment plans and feel satisfied with their care, which ultimately drive more successful transitions across different care settings. As Peter noted, "We do need to find ways to engage better than we are." This empowerment can be achieved through transparent communication, education, and providing easy access to relevant health information.

Innovative Care Models

Models such as hospital-at-home programs and community-based support networks provide flexible and tailored care solutions that can adapt to individual patient circumstances and reduce hospital readmissions. Robert Fox highlighted the potential of such innovations, suggesting that “We need to prioritize regional approaches to care and leverage technology solutions around care mapping.”

Support for Caregivers

Supporting caregivers is essential for effective transitional care, as they play a pivotal role in managing patients' needs during transitions. Smith drew attention to the importance of this approach by sharing an idea he heard: "Rather than spending a million dollars per bed to build long-term care, why don't we start paying caregivers a salary and provide them with training and resources?" The key is to empower caregivers to provide high-quality care, thus improving patient outcomes and reducing the burden on formal healthcare services.

Policy and Workflow Optimization

Developing policies that prioritize transitional care and optimizing workflows are vital steps toward improving the quality and efficiency of patient transitions. Fox suggested that engaging stakeholders, including clinicians, IT professionals, and policymakers, is crucial to ensure that transitions are managed effectively and that patients receive the best possible care at every stage.

AI and Data Analytics

Artificial Intelligence (AI) offers transformative potential in enhancing transitional care by providing advanced tools for predictive analytics and decision support. Peter Smith illustrated this potential with the example of an elderly patient with a broken hip admitted to the hospital: AI can analyze his medical history, current condition, and other relevant factors to predict not only when he will be ready for discharge but also what kind of post-discharge care he will need, such as physical therapy or home health services.

Adoption of New Technologies

Embracing innovative technologies is essential for addressing many of the challenges in transitional care. Peter Smith underlined the impact of these technologies, stating, “Remote patient monitoring, virtual care, and clinical decision support tools have the potential to transform how we manage care transitions.” By integrating these tools into healthcare practices, providers can reduce the likelihood of complications and readmissions.

We extend our heartfelt thanks to e-Health for hosting this event and to our esteemed speakers, Robert Fox and Peter Smith, for sharing their insights. They both provided a comprehensive understanding of the current challenges of transitional care and the path forward.

LGI’s Contribution to Transitional Care

LGI’s participation in this symposium highlighted our commitment to fostering collaboration across the healthcare ecosystem. For a concrete example of our contribution to transitional care efficiency, we invite you to learn more about the LGI Emergency Redirection solution by visiting the official webpage or downloading the demo video.

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