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updated: 12/26/2016 11:04 AM

Amita app keeps a finger on patient's well being

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  • The Amita Health✓ app, developed by Northbrook-based TapCloud, helps the health care agency track a patient's well-being after a hospital stay.

    The Amita Health✓ app, developed by Northbrook-based TapCloud, helps the health care agency track a patient's well-being after a hospital stay.

  • Dr. Reinhold Llerena

    Dr. Reinhold Llerena

 
 

If there is any one industry that has been profoundly affected by technology, it has to be health care. From robotic surgery to online patient portals, technology has changed the way doctors and hospitals treat patients in a way that would leave Marcus Welby befuddled.

Despite the light years of advancement as a result of technology, the ability to monitor a patient's well-being in a personal manner like the kindly Dr. Welby has been elusive.

It's an area that the Amita Health Care Group is looking to bridge through the development of a new app called Amita Health ✓. The app allows the Arlington Heights-based organization to interact with patients sent home following medical procedures, and the ability to quickly intervene if there is a problem.

Dr. Reinhold Llerena, chief medical officer of Amita Health Medical Group, says the app acts like a "patient diary" which is monitored by a care coordination team back at the hospital.

"After a surgery, they go home and go through a period of recovery without any contact," Llerena said. "Something like this can follow a patient day to day. It tells us how a patient is feeling over a course of time."

The app was developed by Northbrook-based TapCloud, which worked with Amita's medical team to assure it fit the particular needs of patients and staff. Llerena said every morning a patient will open the app and receive a word cloud, containing a different word that could describe how a patient feels that day. The patient taps on the words that best describe how they feel at that moment, which is then transmitted back to the hospital's care coordination team.

"One day that cloud of words may say 'happy' and 'fulfilled' and 'pain free,' but elsewhere in the cloud are words like 'pain' and 'depressed,'" Llerena said.

"The app remembers it for next day, so those words appear bigger the next day, and the contrary words appear smaller," he added.

The care coordination team, made up of nurses and other medical professionals, monitor the feedback from the patient and can act if they see any changes.

"If they see a change in trends or a red flag that the patient is not doing well, they can make contact with the patient and simply ask 'How are you doing today?' or "Are you having a hard time right now and how we can help you?'" he said.

The app was first tested over a seven-month period with about 220 total joint replacement patients in the Chicago area. It generated 11,000 patient interactions, including more than 7,000 patient reminders. None of the patients in the test had to be readmitted to the hospital, which Amita said beats the anticipated readmission rate of about 5 percent.

With its success among the joint replacement group, Llerena said Amita is beginning to expand the app to other specialties, such as its bariatric surgical program.

He noted that the app can go beyond the postoperative well-being check, helping the patient with information even before the surgery.

"Instead of handing them a whole bunch of papers and a folder and everything to go with it, a lot of the patient education -- the preoperative explanations and knowledge -- can be incorporated right into a one-stop shop," he said.

In fact, they beauty of the TapCloud platform is its ability to be easily modified for specific applications, Llerena added.

"It's kind of like a chameleon of a product," he said.

And it's helping Amita meet its core goals of providing better patient care.

"We want to set ourselves apart from having the standard set of tools and get into the mindset of the patient," he said. "This is something that really offers us that."