There are different ways to remotely manage patient care, which can make it difficult to design a simple definition of “home telehealth.” Sometimes, just talking to a healthcare professional goes a long way toward keeping a fragile patient out of the hospital emergency department. Last month, we met a new company with an interesting technology designed to do just that.
Synzi is a St. Petersburg, Florida company founded by Lee Horner. Its eponymous product might be regarded at first glance as an enhanced Skype platform. It is actually more related to an office water cooler or, for an updated metaphor, a conference call. Patients, family members, primary care physicians, hospitalists, and home health nurses meet on the Synzi platform, face-to-face, to discuss the patient’s needs. Topics may include care plan, vital signs, upcoming appointments, or an exacerbation.
This last topic is where Synzi earns its ROI. “The number one reason a home health patient goes to the ED is uncertainty,” Horner told us. “When something goes wrong, whether it’s a new pain or a leaky bandage or a fall, the first inclination is to call 911 or the family doctor. Either way, fear of liability almost guarantees both will say, ‘Go to the hospital and get it checked out.’ But a home health nurse can often calm the patient, relieve the uncertainty, and often determine a trip to the ED is not necessary.”
In the demo we saw, six people joined a video call. The simulated patient initiated the call on an iPad, though Synzi works on most devices, by simply tapping the name of her home health nurse on the screen. Names of all available clinicians are bright on the screen, off-duty names are grayed out. Patients are not restricted to calling only the nurse who has been in her home but can ask for help from whoever is on duty.
The patient might instead tap the name of her out-of-town daughter. Or the nurse, if called first, can add a family member and/or PCP to the call. Together, everyone immediately knows details about the incident or concern that prompted the call and can look up the most recent vital signs while on the call.
Horner told us he developed the idea after having worked in various healthcare areas, including ambulatory, patient engagement, and a health plan. “I saw from different perspectives a number of organizations doing things in patient care and the direct-to-consumer market. I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to build a platform for the organizations that do it. I wanted to create a tool to make their staff more valuable.”
What he came up with is a communication platform that can scale for agencies small and large, that would be easy for elderly persons to use, and requires no proprietary device. The patient and the home health agency clinician can use their everyday device such as a smartphone, tablet, or PC. Also, Synzi’s platform works across any level of cellular or Wi-Fi connectivity. “I wanted to make sure it could operate across any connection rather than require high bandwidth and HD,” he emphasized.
Patient with PCP, RN, & Daughter on a Synzi Call
Working with Home Health
Today, Horner’s company is collecting awards and success stories. A recent recognition was the MedTech Breakthrough Award, which called Synzi “Best Patient Relationship Management Solution.” It was also named one of the best places to work by Florida Trend magazine. In an August news release, Dependable Health Services, a Tucson HHA, testified to the impact Synzi has had on its patient care.
Having implemented the Synzi platform in mid-June, Dependable is already providing a range of innovative care such as engaging pediatric patients’ parents in virtual visits and ongoing messaging, using virtual visits to offset speech and physical therapy appointments, and providing tuck-in service with evening medication reminders and virtual check-in’s.
“Dependable embraces innovative service delivery models which enable us to provide the finest and most compassionate care to all patients. With Synzi’s platform, Dependable will be able to efficiently deepen patient engagement and effectively reduce the risk of readmissions,” said Joe Schifano, President/CEO of Dependable.
Dependable selected Synzi’s virtual care platform for its comprehensive video, email, text, and secure messaging capabilities which can be used on everyday devices such as smartphones, tablets, and PCs. As a result, Dependable will be able to uniquely support referrals from hospitals, post-acute facilities, and physicians which are also committed to improving outcomes, especially among patients with chronic conditions such as COPD, CHF, Diabetes, and others.
Synzi offers a patient program management framework that combines video, email and secure messaging communication modalities for healthcare organizations to easily address specific patient needs. Synzi’s configurable platform automates and optimizes workflows across multiple modalities. synzi.com.
Dependable Health Services has Medicare certified agencies in Tucson and Nogales and has been providing skilled nursing, therapy, personal care services, and now Hospice for more than 25 years. Dependable believes in the healing power that in-home patient care can provide.
©2019 by Rowan Consulting Associates, Inc., Colorado Springs, CO. All rights reserved. This article originally appeared in Tim Rowan’s Home Care Technology Report. homecaretechreport.com One copy may be printed for personal use; further reproduction by permission only. firstname.lastname@example.org