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Ochsner Health System's O Bar Improves Chronic Disease Management & Patient Engagement

Rationale / Objectives

Seven out of ten deaths in the United States can be attributed to chronic disease. With population aging, these numbers are likely to increase, exerting pressure on health systems around the globe. To help address these concerns, Ochsner Health System introduced the concept of an Apple store style ‘genius bar’ in a health setting in three of their hospitals. The O bar helps to address the divide between the rapid increase of health care technology and patients' lack of understanding of how to utilize these new technologies. 

Project/Program Description & Major Achievements

The O Bar is staffed by technology specialists that help patients find the right product or app for their health concern or needs. Patients can either walk in or be referred by a physician to find mobile applications geared towards wellness, nutrition, fitness, diabetes, women’s health and smoking cessation. In addition to apps, patients can find devices such as Fitbits, Bluetooth blood glucose monitors, wireless blood pressure monitors and wireless scales. Once a patient has selected a product, an O Bar specialist helps the patient set it up, understand it and connect it to his or her electronic health record if appropriate. With the creation of the O bar technology service, compliance with care management goals increased from 50% to 66% in the 30 days after visiting an O Bar. Additionally, re-admissions in CHF patients who were sent home with wifi scales decreased by 44%. 

Lessons Learned

The biggest challenge is developing the infrastructure to collect and process information from the apps and devices in a way that makes sense. Health systems need to pay attention to what patients need and develop programs to match those needs. Although innovative products may introduce risk, hospitals and health systems need to create infrastructure to meet the changing needs of patients in the future.

People / Organizations Involved

Further Description

Ochsner Health System is southeast Louisiana’s largest non-profit healthcare delivery system. A room in the Ochsner Center for Primary Care and Wellness has a fleet of five iPads® locked to a bar, each one loaded with all the apps the health system has vetted and approved. Patients at the O Bar learn about managing their disease, and link their new devices to their smartphones. Apps and settings are configured so that they’ll beam information back to Ochsner, and rather than relying on infrequent data, patients and their providers can use the technology to monitor their conditions on-the-go. Care coordinators and clinical pharmacists will assess progress and fine-tune their drug regimens accordingly. Based on patient data feeds, Ochsner has developed tools in their electronic health record (EHR) to regularly report on those at risk of poor outcomes. Ochsner mingles these health updates with other background risk information on their patients. The risk level of each patient is then calculated. Every day, the Ochsner Digital Medicine Team reviews the data feeds and reaches out to patients most at risk. Different roles within the organization can determine and perform different tasks to help those patients at risk such as transportation to clinical services, or to assess progress on nutrition and fitness.

Major Achievements

With the creation of the O bar technology service, compliance with care management goals increased from 50% to 66% in the 30 days after visiting an O Bar. Additionally, re-admissions in CHF patients who were sent home with wifi scales decreased by 44%. Also, improvements in diabetes and blood pressure control were also observed. 

Metric Result Additional Detail
Compliance with care management goals increased by 16% In the 30 days after visiting an O Bar
Readmissions decreased by 44% Among CHF patients who were sent home with wifi scales