In a recent podcast interview with Veterans Health Today, eVideon’s, Jeff Fallon, CEO, and Spencer Draper, clinical solutions director, and Rocky Mountain Regional VAMC’s, Gregory Crenshaw, veteran experience officer, discuss how the use of digital tools changed workflow within a VA medical center, and highlight the benefits for both the staff and patients. The following is an edited excerpt of the podcast.
Thank you for joining us today! Please introduce yourselves and share a bit about each of your backgrounds.
Jeff Fallon: I’m the chief executive officer for eVideon. We are a patient experience platform that offers benefits for the staff, as well as the hospital in terms of efficiency in their ability to engage with patients and prepare them for life after the hospital. The company has been in health care for more than 15 years.
We are doing business with commercial hospitals, but also have a great respect for the federal health care space, in particular, the Veterans Administration (VA) hospitals, which we’re talking about today. We are pleased to work with hospitals in both of those segments across the country. With that, Spencer?
Spencer Draper: Thank you, Jeff. It’s great to be with you and Greg as well. I’m Spencer Draper. I’m the clinical solution director for eVideon. I’m a nurse as well as a veteran, so VA has a special place in my heart for sure, with my fellow veterans.
Day-to-day, I work on implementation, support, and optimization with our customers. I focus on getting our system set up for them and working with them to make sure that it is a system that works within their workflows and initiatives throughout their contract, keeping us for support and continued optimization. With that, we’ll turn it over to Greg.
Greg Crenshaw: Thanks, everyone. Pleasure to be here. My name is Gregory Crenshaw. I am currently the veteran experience officer for Eastern Colorado Healthcare System. It’s located in Aurora, Colorado, and is also the Department of Veteran Affairs. I, like Spencer, am also a veteran—a disabled combat retired veteran.
For the ECHCS, I oversee customer satisfaction, metrics, development of action plans, customer service, methodology, training, and additional support mechanisms put in place to make the customers—who are our patients, our family members, and our staff—both internally and externally, I make sure that they have a very solid and stable experience with us. We are constantly in the process of improvement.
Thank you. Can you please dive into how eVideon supports VA medical centers?
Mr Fallon: eVideon is a health care technology platform, where we use smart devices at the bedside, whether it is a smart TV on the wall of an inpatient room, or perhaps a tablet at the bedside, or maybe an all-in-one touchscreen on a swing arm at the bedside.
We connect these devices to the electronic medical record for the hospital. In the VA’s case, it is VistA. It’s moving to a new version of Cerner’s electronic medical record. We’re excited about this integration between our platform that is patient- and clinician-facing, and the electronic information system of the hospital. The electronic health record is still the primary one.
Other resources like real-time location systems, admission discharge transfer ADT systems, or pharmacy interfaces, or the like, enable us to launch a multimedia education plan that’s pushed to the patient in the bed, which parallels their clinical path so that they are being informed about whatever is keeping them in the bed.
Whether they are there for a knee replacement, heart failure, or some complication of diabetes, or whatever the case may be, these short snippets of videos are being pushed to the patient, so that they have a better understanding of the reasoning to keep them in the hospital.
The idea being, engage the patient in their own care, help them understand in their own time what is happening, and improve the chances that they will not be readmitted for complications. Along the way, we are doing things to make the experience of care a little bit more satisfying as well, including enabling them to report issues from the bed directly to the housekeeping staff, dietary restrictions, or whatever the case may be, rather than stopping the nurse from doing clinical work, and intervening on these nonclinical tasks. That’s the high level view of what we are doing.
Around the VA campuses, we are also creating digital signage, which is another way of using these digital displays to push specific information. In this case, it’s for people who happen to be passing a particular display with contextual information, rather than the patient-specific information that we push to a patient in the bed.
A digital platform for engaging patients and staff wherever they might be on the campus is really the core of the idea. For some of the specific initiatives that we are doing in VA in Denver, I’m sure that Spencer would be able to talk to more authoritatively than me.
Mr Draper: Thanks, Jeff. That was a great overview. As Jeff mentioned, we have that integration with [Computerized Patient Record System] CPRS, that allows us to push education out to patient TVs, as well as help educate patients in waiting rooms and public areas.
This helps inform them not only about disease processes, but about what is available to them on the Denver VA campus, whether its classes or different resources that are available to help them through some of their mental health issues, diabetes, or anything similar.
It is an effective way to communicate to the people that come through the Denver VA, whether they are in an inpatient or outpatient setting. Another component of our job in Denver is work in their spinal cord injury unit. In their spinal cord injury unit, we have an integration with their ECUs or an external control unit.
This allows a patient who is a quadriplegic and doesn’t have any use of their arms or legs, to control their TVs and their TV system, as well as the external control unit, can help them control the lights in the room and things like that. I worked on that implementation.
It was great to go in there and see veterans who before this integration took place, had to ask the nurse to come and change the TV settings. Now they can control pretty much all aspects of the TV, and watch patient education, relaxation content, movies, or TV, and control that with voice control, eye movement, or sip-and-puff devices.
That has been a rewarding opportunity at the Denver VA, as well just being able to talk to the veterans about their experience. As Jeff mentioned, I always talk about distraction therapy and the power of distraction therapy.
We just breeze over TV and movies sometimes, but it really is a powerful tool to have good quality entertainment in patient rooms, to help them be distracted from pain or discomfort, or other challenges they are facing inside of the hospital. This allows patients to have an immersive experience and decide what they want to watch, learn, or use things like sleep aids.
Something as simple as having a fan noise on at night to help them sleep because that’s what they’re used to. It’s been great working with the Denver VA, and the veterans there, and Greg as well.
Mr Crenshaw, can you highlight how the use of digital patient engagement technology has changed the workflow at the Rocky Mountain Regional VAMC?
Mr Crenshaw: Definitely. The process for digital patient engagement technology has assisted us in streamlining the process of understanding our patients’ needs. It’s also given us the ability to do it more effectively and allows us to change the way that health care is delivered.
A lot of people are still considering that standard bedside—the physician is talking to the patient. We have also come to find out that the preeducation phase puts our patients in a better concept knowledge wise, and allows them to ask better, more educated questions of their care physicians or their treatment team, to be able to optimize the development of the health care plans.
As Jeff said earlier, the digital signage for us is very cost-effective and it’s easy to modify as required. A lot of places you have to order a sign and wait for it to be made, wait for it to be shipped to you, and have it installed.
For us, it’s easier to modify, add, or subtract from it, and give it that eye pop if it’s required. It also covers the other various ways that human beings take in and process communication.
What are the major benefits of these tools for both your staff and the patients?
Mr Crenshaw: I believe that we can all agree that time matters for each of us, especially in medical-based scenarios. The ability to communicate in a concise manner preserves the desire for our patients to have their needs addressed, and the treatment team’s ability to understand those needs, especially when you’re talking about formatting a diagnosis to develop a plan of care.
In addition, as stated a little earlier, the educational material that’s available, really helps to get the overall big picture of why am I here? What can be done? What should I expect? In that aspect, it reduces the stress for both sides and enhances the outcome for all parties involved.
Do any of you have important tip for VA medical centers looking to turn toward a more technologic approach to care?
Mr Fallon: I would like to talk a little bit about this idea of applying technologies to VAs and this concept. I want to applaud the Veterans Experience Office nationally for what they have achieved. We work with hospitals, as I said earlier, across the country, with the VA, Department of Defense, and in commercial hospitals.
I would say that what the VA has done, led by the Veterans Experience Office nationally, by Dr Lynda Davis, is far in the way leading the nation in articulating a coherent strategy around veteran experience, and coming up with recommendations for specific programs, and even underneath those programs, specific tools that they recommend.
As a company, when we got a view on the veterans experience office strategy and the toolkit underneath it, we felt like we had just seen a really well laid out, well articulated path for how a company like ours help the VA Health System execute on their vision for improving the experience and the efficiency of their organization.
I look at the VEO toolkit, and that’s the Veterans Experience Office toolkit as like a checklist of terrific priorities for us. We have looked at them up and down, and have come back to the Veterans Experience Office with a handful of things that we think are really low hanging fruit that we can help execute on.
A bunch of them touch on things like Greg has already mentioned, the tools for making communication more efficient, and also not just the bedside but on digital signage. I would just point any VA hospital that’s looking to make very significant progress in these areas, the VEO toolkit is in the recommendations that Jennifer Purdy and Lynda Davis crew have come up with.
I’m incredibly impressed. I think the rest of the hospital world would do well to look at it and take some tips from it.
Excellent. Is there anything else that any of you would like to add?
Mr Crenshaw: I actually would like to leave any health care system with this piece of knowledge. Do not hesitate to consider better methods to communicate, educate, and inform patients or staff. To neglect that opportunity in using technology would be neglecting an opportunity to increase overall satisfaction.
We can never have enough tools involved in improving health care. For those veterans who who have served, those that are currently serving, and all the medical professionals across the nation, thank you so much for your service. It is appreciated.
Mr Fallon: I’d echo Greg’s comments about thanking all the veterans for their service, and the health care providers on the frontlines of this pandemic.
What is on our minds these days is that there are so many reasons for digital and maybe I’d say virtual health care technologies like these that we’ve been talking about, that have real benefit under any normal circumstance, but particularly so during this pandemic where keeping a safe distance is a cornerstone of everybody’s strategy.
Tools like these to help nurses continue to engage patients while they stay at a safe distance and the doctors as well are incredibly important now.
I would say that one of the things that I believe we’re all learning through this pandemic, is that great work can continue to be done remotely, whether it’s working from home, or using telehealth, or virtual digital engagement tools like this at a distance. I believe that when the dust settles from the pandemic—and we all hope and pray that that’s sooner rather than later—when we can see this in the rearview mirror, what we will all agree is that the real benefits of virtual technologies like the conference calls, video conference calls that have been used so ubiquitously throughout this whole thing, and like this technology eVideon provides at the bedside, real benefits of efficiency of delivering care for the staff, but also convenience in access to information for the patients.
Wherever they might be, we think that those things are going to sustain. We think that the health care delivery world is probably not going back to the way that it was before, for many reasons, not least is the continuing fear of contagion I think will be around us for some time, and particularly so when somebody is in the hospital.
Also, even when that fear subsides, the benefits of the efficiency and convenience of these digital engagement tools I think, are going to be lasting. The reaction from the provider segment, I’d say echoes that as well. Just to put a bow on it, I reiterate what Greg said, and thank the veterans for the service, and Greg, for your service as well, and for all the health care providers on the frontlines of this pandemic.
We’re honored to assist in some small way, and humbled by the opportunity and thankful for the time you have given us to discuss with your readers.