As President of PointClickCare, Julieann uses her unique perspective on an enterprise, its interdependencies, and how to scale a business to drive the company’s growth and industry leadership. She oversees the Senior Care, Acute & Payer, RCM Services and Life Sciences business units at PointClickCare. She is focused on the go-to-market success of the organization and holds responsibility for sales, customer success, services and customer care. She also leads Corporate Strategy, Corporate Development and Partnerships.
Through the Vision Series, she shares an outlook for a patient-centric health system that facilitates seamless transitions and meticulous care planning throughout the patient journey. She talks about the impact of increased communication with patients and patient families, and she also explores the value of data sharing networks in driving outcomes and improving workflow.
Describe your vision for a health care system that is truly equipped to serve the aging population in America.
Our health care system must change to ensure a patient-centric view of care planning throughout the patient journey. That means having an integrated care team that can communicate about a patient as they transition through care settings. The other important piece of that is tying the families of those patients into that care journey, enabling them to communicate and receive information from the care teams.
If you could change one thing about the current experience aging Americans face, what would it be and why?
The one thing that I would change is medication being lost in transition. Many studies have been conducted in this area, and poor communication has been said to account for up to 50% of all medication errors. If we could solve that issue, the difference in our health care system would be night and day.
What can individual care providers do to better facilitate care transitions for the aging population?
Care providers can make sure they’re present in their healthcare network’s digitization process, so when their patients or residents transition, they’re able to ensure clear communication. There are plenty of opportunities to join not only private networks, but also public exchanges. It is an opportunity for them to share information on their patients as they transition.
Who should be responsible for overseeing continuity of care, in your opinion?
Ultimately, it’s the integrated care team. It isn’t one party. There are parties that carry financial responsibility for the patient, but if you’re talking about the care of that patient, and the importance of the care of that patient, it has to be an integrated team. It all comes back to the importance of the communication channel and making sure that it stays open.
What is the biggest opportunity for providers of housing and care for the aging population in 2022?
I think it’s the opportunity to reduce nurse burden. We all know we’re in the middle of a staffing crisis and that we’re seeing a mass exodus of staff from the senior care industry, primarily because of the burden that they carry. Anything we can do to reduce that burden would be helpful.
It’s really about what you can do every day to enable them to do their job at the point of care, as opposed to ending the shift and having to do all their documentation. How do you simplify their experience with technology so their workflows are cleaner, and they have more time to focus on care and spend less time on administration? Another big piece of that is utilizing other technologies to reduce that staff burden like telehealth, for example.
Being able to quickly access specialists to help with things such as wounds enable caregivers to spend less time in the facility trying to navigate that. Pulling in specialists could even keep a patient or resident within your facility instead of transitioning them out.
Can you give an example of something that’s been highlighted by the pandemic?
The burden our nurses carry has surely been highlighted. We’ve always had a staffing issue, COVID just made it worse. Senior care is such an important part of health care ecosystem, but it probably receives the least amount of positive attention and funding. It puts tremendous pressure on that segment of our health care ecosystem.
During COVID, there was so much news around what was happening in skilled nursing that it raised awareness of what these providers face on a daily basis.
What role does technology play in allowing individuals to age well?
It plays a critical role as you think about the different settings that a person might be in. If they’re in the home, remote patient monitoring is very important. It’s been around for a while, but the outcomes are coming to fruition now. In a skilled nursing setting, telehealth, virtual care, documenting at the bedside and enabling point of care information gathering and sharing is key.
Even when doctors and care staff are in the facility, they often have trouble interacting with patients and staff in a secure way. We have a secure conversations platform, for example, that allows for that — it is super important to the health of that individual.
Lastly, connectivity is very important to the family. Having facilities that provide access to families and to the care of their loved ones is not an area that has grown, but I do think it’s coming.
Family engagement for the resident or the patient is going to be critical to making sure that the wellness of that individual is maintained. Families want to have that connectivity and technology can solve for that.
What technology developments excite you most in how they’re addressing age-related challenges?
I’m most excited about care collaboration across an integrated network. If you think about our network in the United States, we span 46 states connecting 3,000 hospitals, close to 30,000 post-acute facilities, and thousands of ambulatory and behavioral health clinics.
It’s only through that connectivity that you’re able to intervene at the right time to make a difference in someone’s care. That also relates to medication reconciliation, a type of network that allows you to share medication history in real time, and therefore allows you to reduce errors that often lead to sickness and, unfortunately, deaths.
What do you think is the single biggest hurdle to achieving better care for the aging population?
It’s an important sector of our health care ecosystem but I don’t think it receives the level of attention that it should. I think the lack of appropriate funding for this sector will be a barrier. These are very low margin operations, and unlike the acute care sector where they had Meaningful Use, which really pushed for the digitalization of that industry, we haven’t had that type of funding. It means we’re struggling to bring these efficiencies to the staff and caregivers in this sector.
There are two ways we can benefit this sector right now. One is to figure out how to get more staff while also reducing the burden on current staff. The other one is to bring them more efficiency through technology. Providers need to reduce the burden and workload on nursing staff through better access to data, timely communication and automating processes. This will not only help retain existing staff, but it also allows them to spend more time doing what they love – caring for residents.
If you can’t hire more people, you have to make the people you have more efficient. The more we can do to support the digitization of the sector, the better off it will be, and the better care the patients and residents will receive.
How can individuals set themselves up for success in navigating today’s system for the aging population?
If you take it from the point of view of the resident or patient who’s entering the system, being aware of your options and understanding what’s the best fit for you is key. There’s a lot of talk right now about choosing the home, which I think is a great option. If a person can stay at home, that’s fantastic, but if there is high risk of a fall or other injury, or they have a condition that prevents them from being able to navigate their day-to-day, that setting might not be the best option.
Understanding the different care settings and what’s the best fit for your needs is really important. For families, it’s understanding the quality of care and the specialties of those providers as they go through that learning journey. If a person has a cardiac issue or is diabetic, there might be a care setting that is a better fit to ensure their health, safety and quality of life.
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