Business challenge

VON shrinks the risk of seniors falling through an exercise program designed to reduce the need for more costly care services. How could it evaluate the success of the program in achieving this goal?

Transformation

VON replaced paper-based client assessments with a cloud-based mobile solution, helping it to track the health outcomes of its exercise classes via secure tablet devices.

Results

Reduces

operational costs by eliminating paper-based processes

Provides

patient health outcomes to funders, demonstrating return on investment

Enables

real-time access to patient health information

Business challenge story

Helping older people stay healthy

To improve the health and wellbeing of the older people under its care, VON aims to deliver services that reduce the number of its clients admitted to ER each year. Falls are a leading cause of hospitalization in elderly populations, as Andrew Ward, District Executive Director at Victorian Order of Nurses, explains:

“The initial metrics we’re getting from the IBM tool show that our classes reduce the number of falls by seniors by a dramatic 72 percent.”

—Nicole Hunter, District Manager Care and Service, Victorian Order of Nurses

“Our goal is to help our clients to live healthy lifestyles, and to reduce the risk of injuries or illnesses that might lead to visits to ER or hospitalization. As people age, their strength and ability to balance naturally decrease. We were convinced that regular exercise could help older people in the community to improve their fitness and reduce the risk of falling, and have been running specialized group exercise classes for a number of years.

“Demonstrating the positive impact of our services is essential to safeguard future funding for our care programs. Although we were convinced that our exercise programs were making a difference, our paper-based approach to assessing and recording our clients’ progress made it extremely difficult to get the hard numbers to show this clearly to our funders.”

Nicole Hunter, District Manager Care and Service at Victorian Order of Nurses, continues: “Once a month, our coordinators would ask our clients if they had visited the ER—but we had no straightforward and reliable way to link this information with data on our exercise programs. As result, it was difficult to answer questions such as: ‘How many times has each client attended our exercise classes?’, ‘How regularly do they attend the classes?’, ‘Have their fitness assessment scores improved since being in the program?’ and, crucially, ‘Does attending the exercise program reduce the incidence of hospital admissions from falls?’”

“To solve the challenge, we wanted a way to report accurately on our clients’ health outcomes, including how many times they’ve attended classes, any underlying health issues such as heart attacks or strokes, and the number of ER visits. The aim was to prove that our exercise program helps keep our older clients healthy, and make it easier to secure the funding we needed to continue to run the classes.”

“By continuing our close partnership with Armec Group, we plan to dig deeper into our data to find new ways to improve care outcomes for our clients.”

—Andrew Ward, District Executive Director, Victorian Order of Nurses

Transformation story

Measuring health outcomes in the cloud

“In the past, all of the steps that our clients need to go through to take part in a class—including registration, enrollment, assessment and attendance records—were completed on paper, which meant that our people needed to carry large amounts of documentation around with them,” explains Nicole Hunter. “We wanted to automate the process of signing up for and assessing the results of our exercise classes as much as we could, and looked for a way to enroll clients and track their progress digitally using mobile devices.”

To help it to design the solution and transition to the new way of working, VON engaged its trusted partner, Armec Group.

“Armec Group have an excellent understanding of our organization, and really took the time to identify the goals of our reporting project,” comments Andrew Ward. “We worked with Armec Group to map out the processes in the exercise program, and design the underlying business logic. This was an important requirement because many of our funders have different definitions for similar key performance indicators, and we wanted to ensure that we could deliver the right information to support their decision-making.”

Today, VON manages the documentation for its exercise classes in the cloud via tablets—enabling it to capture valuable data on attendance, assessments and outcomes directly into a centralized reporting platform.

“Today, all that our people need to carry with them to run an exercise class is a tablet and a Bluetooth speaker—the device even holds all the music we use in the session,” says Nicole Hunter. “At the beginning of the class, our people take attendance and guide any new attendees through the registration and enrollment process via a series of online forms, delivered via our partner’s private cloud. At the end of the class, we assess and record each client’s progress, which means the latest data on client outcomes is available for analysis almost immediately.”

She continues: “Because we loaded the solution with our clients’ electronic medical record data, it’s easier than ever for people to sign up for a class—most of the fields for names, dates of birth and address are already pre-populated. And because all our data resides in the cloud and not on the device itself, we can ensure our compliance with rigorous data protection requirements. In the unlikely event that a tablet went missing, we even have the option to wipe the device remotely."

Results story

Demonstrating results, securing funding

By capturing data on healthcare outcomes VON is able to clearly track the effect of its exercise programs on seniors’ health and their ER admittance rates.

“Based on initial analysis of six months of data, we discovered that our classes are consistently helping to improve our clients’ strength and balance,” says Nicole Hunter. “In fact, some of our data indicates we have reduced the number of falls by a dramatic 72 percent—proving that they have an enormously positive impact on our clients’ health.

“Better still, we can now calculate the expected rate of improvement for each client based on the number of classes they have attended, and how regularly they participate in the program. This means that if we see that an assessment score drop unexpectedly, we can proactively alert that client’s director of care to find out the cause.”

She adds: “By reducing the number of falls, we are achieving our government mandate to reduce the rate of ER visits and hospital admissions, which is particularly important considering the strain that Canada’s aging population is putting on front-line care services. By helping our clients to stay healthy, we can relieve some of the pressure on the healthcare network, which contributes to improved care experiences.”

Andrew Ward continues: “Community support dollars are limited, and competition for them is intense. Proving that our classes are delivering results will make it much easier to secure the funding we need to continue to run the program in the future. Our accurate, granular reporting capabilities may also open up the possibility of applying for new sources funding, enabling us to extend the reach of our services.”

By moving to a cloud-based solution, VON can reduce its operational costs and channel a higher proportion of its funding into initiatives such as the exercise program.

“In the past, we spent significant amounts of time and effort in the back office managing large numbers of records on paper,” says Nicole Hunter. “Moving to a paperless solution isn’t just better for the environment—it enables us to work more cost-effectively, and to ensure that more of our funding is directed toward healthcare services.”

Andrew Ward concludes: “By proving that our exercise programs reduce seniors’ falls, we can fulfill our healthcare mandate and safeguard future funding for our exercise classes. Our journey with healthcare outcome reporting is just beginning, but by continuing our close partnership with Armec Group, we plan to dig deeper into our data to find new ways to improve care outcomes for our clients.”

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About Victorian Order of Nurses

VON Canada, a national not-for profit home and community care organization, provides programs and services including the Seniors Maintaining Active Roles Together (SMART) Group Exercise Program, an evidence-based intervention aimed at promoting and maintaining independence of community-dwelling seniors. Using a database and assessment tool, VON Canada records participant data—including class attendance, mobility, strength, balance testing and history of falls—to verify the efficacy of the program in delivering positive health outcomes.

Take the next step

Armec Group is a premier consulting company and an IBM Advanced Business Partner based in Toronto. Comprised of expert consultants, it has a wealth of experience in managing and delivering IBM solutions. To learn more, please visit: armec.ca To learn more about IBM Digital Experience solutions, please contact your IBM representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit the following website: ibm.com/software/products/en/category/digital-experience

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