Vensa Health to digitise communications with TXT2Remind v4

Vensa Health is gearing up for the launch of version 4.0 of its TXT2Remind practice-patient messaging system, which has five new features that the Auckland-based company hopes will automate most if not all routine communication to patients.

The company is also planning to use some of the funding it received through a Callaghan Innovation growth grant to begin building new technology for the nascent “health care home” or “medical home” concept that four of the largest PHOs have recently submitted to the Ministry of Health.

The new release of TXT2Remind will be available from September 10, with 100 sites having pre-ordered. Vensa Health CEO Ahmad Jubbawey said the company was scaling up its network in anticipation of those 100 sites going live and an expectation that most of the other general practices in the country will come on board in the next 12 months.

Vensa Health boasts over 650 general practice customers, or 65 per cent of the market. Many PHOs or DHBs buy the service on behalf of their practices as one way in which to achieve Integrated Performance and Incentive Framework (IPIF) targets for smoking cessation, immunisation, cervical screening and heart and diabetes checks, but also to improve communications between practices and patients.

The five key new features are a campaign manager, patient initiated text, updated appointments confirmation, PMS auto update, and improved recalls.

“The new features are designed to essentially digitise all practice communications,” Mr Jubbawey said. “We've introduced five key features and the theme of it is automation and digitisation.

“We've got practices around the country now that have gone entirely digital and we want to move the whole industry forward. TXT2Remind 4.0, at its core, is designed to take away all of that administration work.”

Vensa Health says the new campaign manager automates the health target process, such as updating smoking status and read-code classifications. The new patient-initiated text feature enables patients to text-in requests for repeat scripts and appointments, which traditionally account for 80 per cent of all incoming phone calls into the practice.

The updated appointments confirmation feature will also enable patients to confirm or decline their appointment via text, and this will automatically be updated and colour-coded in the practice appointment book.

The PMS auto update feature will automatically file messages against the patient outbox or inbox to allow practices to keep a record of all sent and received communications, and the improved recalls feature now supports bulk recalls for all screenings and vaccination groups.

While some practices would baulk at allowing patients to text in requests for an appointment or script refill, Mr Jubbawey said only patients that have had previous communications from the practice would be allowed to use the patient-initiated text feature, and even then it was up to the practice.

“If the practice wants to enable it all they have to do is essentially tell patients to save the number on their phone and to text in rather than call,” he said. “Those texts can be redirected to any person inside the practice team based on the configurations that they set out.”

The bulk recalls feature will enable practices to send out recalls to target groups just with one click and to remove or at least decrease the most annoying jobs for practice nurses or reception staff.

Patients opt in to receive messages through a consent process that Mr Jubbawey estimates about 70 per cent of practices use.

“The patient consent process is a mass broadcast to the whole population and by doing that we know who doesn't want it or who is no longer valid as a patient or who has a mobile number that has changed,” he said. “We provide the practices with all of the templates and we have been careful about disclosing too much information in the messages.”

He said the improved recall feature would help automate the process of achieving IPIF targets. These include getting patients in for more heart and diabetes checks, which has a national target of 90 per cent of the relevant enrolled population; better help for smokers to quit (national target of 90 per cent); increased immunisation for eight-month-olds (95 per cent) and two-year-olds (95 per cent); and cervical screening (80 per cent).

“With our campaign manager, you can run a smoking campaign for all of your current smokers, if they're interested in receiving brief advice,” Mr Jubbawey said. “If they are, those responses come back and they automatically update the PMS. For those that decline or for those who are no longer a smoker, this will help those practices achieve those targets a lot sooner.

“The smoking campaign needs to be done every year and is the one that causes PHOs a lot of stress. This is just taking that stress away from the practice.”

Vensa Health will be concentrating for the next year on supporting v4.0 and signing up PHOs and practices not using the system, but it will also be working on some new technology that it has in the pipeline.

The company recently received a growth grant from Callaghan Innovation that will be used to support its R&D activities for the next three years, which will focus on the new health care home model of care that is increasingly favoured by PHOs.

Earlier this year, four of the largest PHOs – ProCare, Midlands, Compass and Pegasus – put forward a business model to the Ministry of Health to introduce the health care home model to New Zealand on a national basis.

Based on the medical home concept developed in Seattle and widely used in Washington state and Idaho, the health care home aims to use technology to improve primary health care provision, including web access to patients' medical records, using secure messaging between patients and practitioners and providing online prescription refills.

While the patient portal program backed by the National Health IT Board provides this sort of technology, the health care home model is about a lot more, and Vensa Health hopes to play a part, Mr Jubbawey said.

“That model essentially changes the way primary care offers services,” he said. “It's more nurse-centric, more pharmacy-centric, more care management-centric and less transactional.

“With this whole paradigm movement, we want to lead this movement from the front when it comes to digital communications with patients and how those teams are going to be communicating with their population.”

While what Vensa Health is planning will overlap somewhat with the patient portal idea, that is not what his team plans to build, he said.

“We are out to build essentially a marketplace platform for people and their health providers to receive health care in a whole new way. That's the future of healthcare and it's where we making rapid investments. We think that by 2016, there will be something that Vensa will go to market with.”

Posted in New Zealand eHealth

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