For children with complex medical needs, care coordination across medical specialties is a major pain point, as is communication across multiple provider systems. And patients aren’t the only ones feeling the burden. Consider these startling statistics:
- $25-$45 billion is wasted annually in the U.S. due to poor communication in health care.
- $45 billion has been invested in tools that record and bill for care, but don’t manage care.
- 40 percent of medical malpractice claims stem from poor communication.
Isaac Kohane, MD, PhD, and Kenneth Mandl, MD, of the Boston Children’s Hospital Computational Health Informatics (CHIP) program, felt care coordination was an area ripe for a technological solution. ACT.md came together three years ago with the help of Clay Christensen of Harvard Business School, author of The Innovator’s Prescription. Christensen introduced Kohane and Mandl to Ted Quinn, a seasoned health care IT entrepreneur. As a family caregiver, Quinn was intimately familiar with the need to integrate complex care.
Christensen’s VC fund, Rose Park Advisors, seeded ACT.md in 2013, and the platform was built over a 9-month period at the Harvard Innovation Lab. Customers quickly signed up for beta testing when ACT.md launched in early 2014.
Using a cloud-based, device-agnostic web technology platform, ACT.md connects all members of a care team (including family caregivers) around a single patient, allowing them to collaborate on care planning, manage care between visits and make safe, reliable handoffs. Everyone can see who is on the team and who is responsible for a specific piece of the shared care plan.
Like the project management platforms used in other industries, ACT.md replaces phones, faxes, emails, spreadsheets and sticky notes. Tasks like patient handoffs are readily assigned and managed, while real-time communications and analytics monitor ongoing patient care, status and outcomes.
The comprehensive care plan, which reflects patient and family priorities, is one of ACT.md’s major strengths. When patients go home, their care plan and record help ensure that standards of care are followed and that no medical need is missed. The ability to access the plan on demand gives families more control in emergency situations.
Patients and families are also assigned tasks and held accountable by the care team. They can collaborate on care planning through Wiki-like functionality and ask structured questions in real time. Their engagement helps ensure compliance with the plan, and teams using ACT.md are also seeing a 30 percent decrease in time spent on care coordination.
ACT.md works across hospitals and clinics because it doesn’t need to be deeply integrated with EMRs, allowing the lightweight system to be implemented quickly. Right now, EMR integration includes the ability to populate records with patients’ demographic information or send a care plan into a health care organization’s EMR. Eventually, ACT.md will be able to pull a variety of clinical data at scale. The platform can also integrate easily and openly with EMRs as needed through the FHIR/SMART application being developed by Mandl and CHIP.
As a fail-safe, the company also employs “Care Traffic Controllers,” a team of hired professionals who help care teams organize and monitor tasks and workflows, ensuring that nothing falls through the cracks.
In July, ACT.md announced an $8.4 million Series A funding agreement led by Rose Park Advisors. Boston Children’s Hospital is an equity stakeholder and continues to study the platform. ACT.md was also selected for a three-year engagement with the Massachusetts Alliance for Complex Care, comprised of Boston Medical Center and Bay State Health. MACC serves children with the highest medical complexity and social needs in Massachusetts with the goal of reducing family stress, improving outcomes and reducing cost. The group selected ACT.md as its technology backbone because parents liked the mobile accessibility in emergency situations and its ability to be used by multiple providers.
“At ACT.md, we are patients, caregivers, physicians, nurses, public health professionals, engineers and operational leaders,” says Quinn, ACT.md’s CEO. ”We have experienced the significant challenges associated with managing complex care and are working to make life better for patients and everyone supporting them.”
Learn more in this recent Q&A with Quinn on mhealthspot.com.
David Altman is manager of marketing and communications in Boston Children’s Hospital’s Technology and Innovation Development Office.