As providers seek to meet the meaningful use stage 2 requirements, finding the best way to identify and address the health literacy levels of their patients is a critical component to improve patient engagement, adherence and lower the rate of preventable readmissions.
Healthcare providers have to give patients the capability to electronically view, download and transmit relevant information from electronic health records such as lab test results, a list of current medications and hospital discharge instructions.
Sana Fe, New Mexico-based Seamless Medical Systems is addressing health literacy by focusing on information, education and communication and working with partners to harness their content.
CEO and founder David Perez told MedCity News in an interview: “Part of the challenge with health literacy has been…the content has been so dry and academic, it’s too hard to absorb and understand,” said Perez. “We’re looking to utilize technology in a way that overcomes literacy issues and simplifies concepts. We need to make the content suited for the technology so it’s easy to understand for all patients.”
It views multimedia tools as a vital way to help patients better understand their health. Although it tailors content through demographic information like sex, age, geographic location, language and health conditions, it also wants to add more context such as the length of time patients have lived with a particular condition. For example, the kind of information you’d provide a patient who has just been diagnosed with diabetes would differ from the content a patient who has lived with the condition for several years would receive to raise awareness about new or more effective ways to manage their blood glucose levels or weight.
Its SNAP Practice channel uses digital forms on iPads to guide patients through intake and registration to avoid jamming up waiting rooms and to reduce denied claims. If practices opt for it, this information can be transmitted to an electronic medical record through one of its three partnerships. Otherwise it can be transmitted to the practice’s dashboard.
Another version of the SNAP Practice platform, its enterprise system, can be integrated with electronic medical records. Seamless currently works with three different EMR vendors and claims its program is platform agnostic.
Once patients complete the cloud-based forms, they’re directed to a patient-education platform. Users can test their health literacy, or choose from Mayo Clinic content, health assessments, games, infographics along with wellness and lifestyle channels. Patients can also email items that spark their interest to themselves.
Practices can also use the platform for reference in the exam room. Patients can record notes from their physician visit. Perez said it wants to deepen that experience by adding animation and video so physicians can give patients a better understanding of anatomy in, say, the run-up to surgery. It could give them an overview of what they will undergo to better understand the procedure, make them feel more involved in the process and hopefully reduce their anxiety.
Perez said, “Our vision is that SNAP is integrated into the clinical experience” with targeted information for each user.
Launched in October 2011, the early stage company focuses on primary care practices of five or more physicians. But it also sees opportunities in specialty areas. So far, it is working in urology and ambulatory care, but it plans to expand into oncology this year with an eye to adding women’s health in 2014.
Although it has generated interest from veterinary practices and at least one military hospital, it wants to avoid falling into the trap of expanding too fast so it is currently focusing on a few areas and gradually scaling up.
Perez sees its content platform as a way to help practices grow since it can help them improve work flows and raise patient satisfaction.