The following is an excerpt from a recent Q&A session at the Healthcare Connectivity Summit:
Q: (interviewer) Sandy was sick for three years before cancer finally claimed her life. What did you see that gave you the idea for Ankota?
A: (Will) I saw two things. First, I saw skilled, professional health care workers who were committed to doing their jobs well. Second, I saw a terribly inefficient system that forced these people to spend significant time doing things other than caring for patients. This wasted time and resources cost the healthcare system--and the companies in it--billions of dollars each year.
Q: (interviewer) Give me an example of one of the problems you saw.
A: (Will) Just one? (laugh) Okay-an appointment scheduled in the morning for a nurse to visit Sandy at home. She was given a window and the nurse missed that window, showing up later in the afternoon. This is not uncommon because home care companies often schedule appointments in a very manual fashion, there is frequent change, and schedules are very difficult to manage. Mistakes like this are common. Sandy could have spent that day at the kids' school or out enjoying the day with friends--living her life. Instead, millions of home care patients just like her are forced to wait around for the system to catch up with them.
I'll give you another example: A nurse arrived one day to find that the equipment and the feeding supplies she needed for the visit were not delivered. That was a wasted visit for that nurse, it cost everyone money and delayed the care that was needed. There are consequences to this besides just a wasted appointment. At this time, Sandy could only be fed intravenously. The company delivering the supplies now had a delivery crisis that upset other deliveries and added mileage expense, and the nurse then had to work overtime that day. This was entirely because the planning and scheduling of the people, equipment, and supplies was not well coordinated. That one example cost the system thousands of dollars and wasted tremendous time for everyone.
Q: (interviewer) Clearly, this frustrated you. How does Ankota approach this?
A: (Will) It was incredibly frustrating--the lack of coordination, the lack of communication between the providers, the manual planning--these are problems that are common to many industries that are equally complex and they have been solved. We can solve this in healthcare.
The problem is that many of these efforts have been treated as separate tasks and managed in "silos," so they have remained highly fragmented. The result is an uncoordinated, inefficient system as we just discussed.
Healthcare needs to be managed as a "delivery model." There is a tremendous opportunity to improve operational efficiencies and to improve the efficacy of care. Ankota is doing this by providing technology that enables "Healthcare Delivery Management," or "HDM."
Q: (interviewer) Can you give me an example of the types of efficiencies you are talking about?
A: (Will) Sure. For example, we find that a company that schedules home care workers or delivers equipment or supplies can reduce the number of miles driven by 25-35% simply by using Ankota's route planning and scheduling. Companies should look at their fuel costs and ask, "Would I like to cut that cost by one third?" They can also increase their capacity by about 10-20% simply by recovering time that was previously unproductive. That increases their revenues and reduces their operating costs.
Q: (interviewer) I get how that improves the business, but how does your example improve the quality of care for patients?
A: (Will) First of all, anything that improves the profitability of the provider's business and helps them compete is ultimately good for patients and improves the healthcare system in general. Secondly, Ankota's HDM solution is more than just a tool for scheduling and optimizing certain resources. HDM is a platform that coordinates the many people and resources into an efficient operational model and enables a "best practices" approach to delivering care. This is what enables real care management with protocol-based approaches to managing care. It provides a model that measures efficacy and enables continual improvement. It is a paradigm that has been very successful in other industries like aerospace, automotive, defense, and so on. These industries also have very complex supply chain networks that have to be coordinated and run efficiently. Health care can definitely learn from them.
On September 21st, Business Week featured a special report on technologies that promote Aging in Place. You can read the article at http://tinyurl.com/l7c6wh. Home care agencies have been pioneers in the use of Telehealth technologies to keep patients health and comfortable in their homes, often despite reimbursement. It's clear from the BW article that the benefits of Telehealth have not gone unnoticed. Featured in the article are the likes of Intel, GE Healthcare, and Nintendo who all view the prospect of home health technologies for seniors as attractive markets.
If you're interested in Aging in Place Technologies, I'd highly recommend that you subscribe to the Blog "Aging in Place Technology Watch" at the URL http://www.ageinplacetech.com/. Its author, Laurie Orlov is a top researcher and consultant focused on Aging in Place Technologies in the same way that our very own Tim Rowan keeps us all apprised on Home Care Technologies at http://homecaretechreport.com/.
One of the biggest opportunities for healthcare reform comes in the arena of care coordination. This article from AARP Bulletin Today shows a great example of care coordination in post-acute transitional care. By looking at and serving the patient's full set of needs after they leave the hospital, readmissions drop significantly. Please see the article at http://bulletin.aarp.org/yourhealth/medicare/articles/transition_care.1.html.
Ankota's Chief Medical Officer Dr. J Hunter Young has driven home the importance of care coordination in all aspects of our product line. Our care management pilot system incorporates Medical Needs, Recovery Needs and Social Needs into the protocols and assessments used for care management.
Ankota is serious about healthcare reform and is committed to helping to truly reform healthcare. We define reform as providing better healthcare and lower cost. While Washington debates over who will pay for healthcare, Ankota wants to know that entrepreneurs, like Ankota, have already begun the work to make it happen. See the press release here.
I personally love to read books that take me into a world that I'll never have a chance to live in. One of those books I thoroughly enjoyed was Complications by Atul Gawande. He talks candidly about what it's like for a doctor to learn medicine.
Dr. Gawande recently published the story The Cost Conundrum in The New Yorker where he explores why the Medicare Costs in McAllen Texas are so much higher than the national average. It's not a quick read, but it is a fascinating analysis that I hope you'll enjoy.
Ankota is about to launch the Ankota solution for the Home Medical Equipment (HME) and Durable Medical Equipment (DME) market. The specific problem Ankota solves is streamlining the delivery of HME and DME.
A case study of potential savings is posted here.