Rationale / Objectives
Wound care is a challenge for all health systems. According to the Canadian Home Care Association, wounds cost ~3% of total healthcare expenditures and is expected to grow.
Driving the cost increase are health system policies of early discharge after surgery along with inaccurate documentation and wound measurement. One way to control costs is to make the transition for wound care patients as smooth and reliable as possible from hospital to home care.
Project/Program Description & Major Achievements
To tackle this problem, Colleaga partnered with the office of innovation at a Canadian health administrator to build a Wound Care Community of Practice and then use the Colleaga Crowdsourcing Innovation Service to identify solutions that will enable a smooth transition from hospital to home. The process took the Innovation Community through problem identification phase where it was discovered that miscommunication about the wound, how it had changed over time, and how it was being measured was the biggest obstacle to effective care for the patient. That became the basis of ideation and solution generation: how to make the transition of care more seamless for the patient by making the right information about the wound available at the right time.
Managing wound care is a challenge for health systems since its care and treatment goes beyond any one healthcare institution. The patient may require care from a hospital, a home care agency, their primary care physician, and a specialist. Finding effective solutions for sharing the right information, with the right healthcare practitioner (HCP) at the right time requires bringing members of each of these healthcare services into the innovation conversation; each will bring a different perspective and different requirements for the wound care patient information. However, HCPs from each of these areas don’t have time to attend innovation workshops so an online tool that is available when they are, wherever they are, is necessary to drive the innovation conversation.
Health system policies of early discharge after surgery along with inaccurate documentation and inaccurate wound measurement places the burden and challenges on treating wounds to homecare agencies and primary physicians. According to the Canadian Home Care Association, wounds cost ~3% of total healthcare expenditures and is expected to grow.
It is not uncommon for a patient with a wound to receive care from a hospital, then a home care agency, then a primary physician and then a specialist. However, each organization keeps their own records and information about the patient and the wound. This data opacity alone is usually enough to ensure that a patient can’t receive optimal care. In the case of wound care, the wound can change daily and details about the change (how it has change, how quickly and why) are needed. The burden of collecting that information from various sources in time for an appointment is placed on the patient.
Colleaga partnered with the office of innovation at a Canadian health administrator to use our innovation approach to tackle this problem. The first step was to identify what the best-practices were in the transition of wound care from one provider to another and to see what we could learn from those best-practices. Colleaga created a Community of Practice (CoP) on the Colleaga platform in wound care. Colleaga’s Research Analysts and Innovation Sherpas searched across Canada, and around the world, for best practices and case studies related to wound care and transitions. Those that were relevant and enlightening were added to the CoP and made available to anyone with internet access.
The next step was to define the Innovation Community (IC). The IC comes together to explore the challenge in more detail and to describe what the solution requirements will be. It is important to be judicious in choosing members of the IC; you will want to include as many perspectives as possible from members that have broad experience and expertise in the topic under discussion but not so many that the conversation becomes too diluted and filled with tangents. Colleaga has built an expertise and a rigorous process behind building Innovation Communities.
For this innovation discussion, members of the IC came from different backgrounds in wound care however, each were too busy to attend half day innovation workshops. To engage these individuals, we used the Colleaga Innovation Platform. Accessed online through a browser, the platform makes available the Communities of Practice and Colleaga innovation services, including crowdsourcing ideation. Members of the IC were able to login on their own schedule and contribute to the discussion when their own schedule allowed. Colleaga’s Innovation Sherpa’s engaged with the IC to keep everyone motivated and engaged, and to offer new information and to challenge new ideas that required further discussion.
Over several weeks, the IC identified that there is unique information about wounds and wound care that wasn’t being effectively communicated between healthcare practitioners (HCP) when the patient was being transitioned from one to the next. Furthermore, when the best-practices and case-studies from the Community of Practice in Wound Care were reviewed and referenced, it became clear that the best way to share this unique information was visually, as other countries do, through a tool that could not only take consistent pictures of the wound but could also include other measurements. Those pictures and measurements would be updated often and follow the patient from one HCP to another.
The result was a comprehensive list of requirements needed from a tool that could visually capture the wound and include measurements of other wound characteristics that HCPs will need to treat the patient effectively. The next step in this collaboration will be a market sounding exercise to find companies who may have already built this solution. If there are no tools available that meets these requirements, Colleaga will partner with an entrepreneur through the Colleaga Virtual Incubator to develop the solution and make the solution available for sale across Canada and around the world. For more information on the Virtual Incubator, please visit http://colleagahealthsolutions.com/home.