An easy way to keep patients engaged in their care

Whether it comes to diagnosis, treatment or routine check-ups, one size does not fit all in health care. That is especially the case when patients leave from the emergency room or a stay at the hospital. Each patient receives their own special care plan to ensure they won’t have to return to the hospital. Some patients follow paper instructions at home. But others may need a reminder or some sort of follow-up to keep them on track.

OSF HealthCare offers many digital tools to help patients take control of their health. The most recent tool being offered is Epharmix. Knowing everyone is not comfortable using mobile applications or other devices, this program contacts patients through text messages or phone calls for regular check-ups.

“For example, we can regularly track the blood sugar levels of our most complex diabetic patients,” said Rob Jennetten, director, OSF Innovation Partnerships. “Our virtual coaches watch this data and notify a patient’s doctor if their numbers are abnormal.”

Introducing Epharmix in Ottawa

OSF HealthCare piloted Epharmix in January of 2018 at OSF Medical Group – Ottawa. The purpose was to learn how to introduce the new tool and encourage patients to adopt it. The pilot was also done to determine if clinicians were able to intervene in patient care sooner.

OSF HealthCare tested the use of Epharmix on about 200 patients, who were either diabetic or had congestive heart failure. About 70 percent enrolled in the program. 78 percent stayed engaged with the tool.

“Our providers feel more connected to their patients because they receive weekly touch points through Epharmix,” said Jennetten. “The biggest impact is that we see fewer complications for patients. This leads to healthier communities.”

The pilot in Ottawa has led to an investment in Epharmix by OSF Ventures, the investment arm of OSF HealthCare.

Preventing re-hospitalizations for home care patients

OSF HealthCare will soon offer Epharmix to home care patients across the Ministry. This is part of an effort to reduce the number of patients returning to the hospital. OSF Home Care provides services to about 10,000 annually. OSF will deploy Epharmix to almost 3000 of those patients over the next year.

Nurses will offer and explain Epharmix to patients in the last two weeks of home care. The nurses will also be able to answer any questions they may have. Patients will stay on the tool for several months to prevent them from returning to the hospital.

OSF Innovation understands there is not one single solution to help people stay engaged in their health. That’s why it’s providing patients options for case management tools. This ensures clinicians keep in contact with their patients on a regular basis. This provides a better standard of care for patients and keeps them healthier.