Senior man and woman looking at tablet
by Hannah Wolfson

Technology is often seen as something cold and uncaring. Think of all the movies, books and other cultural touchpoints featuring unfeeling machines, starkly clinical environments and people described as “robotic” to point out their lack of humanity.

But at Elara Caring, technology is designed to make the business of care more caring, not less. The company calls it a high-touch, personalized approach that focuses on the vitality of its patients. In fact, Elara, which is one of the largest providers of in-home care and growing quickly, has made tech central to its operations with the use of its ElaraConnect platform.

“ElaraConnect is transforming how Elara delivers care,” said Regis Zamudio, who oversees the care platform in his role as vice president of ElaraConnect. “From the moment a patient or client referral is received, ElaraConnect offers our care team a ‘toolbox’ of resources to keep that person at home and out of the hospital. It has further strengthened collaboration between our service lines, helping our people think holistically and cross functionally.”

A Process of Evolution
Some of today’s technology is rooted in the organizations that formed Elara Care—National Home Health Care, Great Lakes Caring and Jordan Health Care. The three companies merged in 2018 to form Elara.

At the time, company leadership highlighted the company’s technological and care model. The new company, HomeCare wrote in 2018, intended “to create one of the most technologically advanced platforms in the country and to significantly improve clinical outcomes while enhancing the patient experience.”

Today, Elara Caring is in 16 states, with about 32,000 caregivers in more than 200 locations.

It offers skilled home health, hospice, personal care, behavioral health and palliative care and serves more than 60,000 patients per day.

Some of the technologies were driven by company leadership, Zamudio said, while others grew organically until they were absorbed into ElaraConnect. Health tech partners—including Medalogix, AlayaCare, ServiceNow, Bamboo Health and Careport Connect—have and continue to drive innovation,
he added.

Today, ElaraConnect leverages advanced technology, data, insights and services to anticipate patient needs by proactively monitoring and engaging current and previous patients/clients.

“These tools empower Elara’s dedicated caregivers to proactively provide the very best care to our patients and clients, and connect them with appropriate services across our five service lines…,” Zamudio said. “It ensures we’re meeting patients’ and clients’ comprehensive and often complex needs, focusing on their vitality with a high-touch, personalized approach.”

The platform encompasses four programs:

  • ElaraConnect Engage, a change-in-condition platform for patients in skilled home health care and clients receiving personal care
  • ElaraConnect Monitor, a remote patient monitoring (RPM) program that targets patients with the highest risk of hospitalization
  • Check-In, a post-discharge follow-up program that monitors our previous home health patients after they are discharged
  • Transition, which identifies end-of-life needs for home health patients and transitions them to hospice services as appropriate.

Show Us the Numbers
Zamudio said the data—and there is a lot of it, thanks to the nature of the platform—helps highlight ElaraConnect’s effectiveness.

“For example, we have doubled the number of average touchpoints received by home health patients while reducing costs by 25% and cutting our hospital readmission rate by more than 50%, he said. “We have also been heralded by patients, clients and families, who have awarded Elara a Net Promoter Score of 89—an indication of customer appreciation and loyalty unheard of in the home health arena.”

Zamudio also shared some program-specific data with HomeCare. Take the Monitor program, which uses RPM to keep tabs on high-risk patients. Those patients, which are 25% higher risk, actually had 30-day rehospitalization rates that were 17% lower than the national average. In addition, 90% of the Monitor program patients reported that the telehealth program makes them feel supported by their health
care team.

Connectivity was also important for the Engage program, which monitors home health and personal care clients to track any changes in their condition. Last year, the platform yielded nearly 100,000 connections with home health patients and triaged more than 1,000 alerts per month on average, all within 30 minutes.

“And last year, patients enrolled in our Transition program—meaning they transitioned to hospice—were 17% less likely to die within the first week of services, exemplifying how we’re identifying needs sooner and getting patients appropriate care at end of life, to produce longer lengths of stays consistent with the intention of the Medicare Hospice Benefit,” Zamudio said.

Moving Forward
While the numbers are highlights, Zamudio said that the data itself collected by the platform is also impacting operations.

“While we’re gathering more data than ever, being able to sift through the massive amounts of information in an efficient and automated manner not only creates efficiency but enables leadership to make critical decisions about how we operate and where we focus our energy and attention,” he said. “Having a data analytics team to build reporting, dashboards, and insights for the organization is a requirement to be successful today. We’re lucky to have a phenomenal team of really intelligent people working on the back end to give the operational leaders what they need to drive success and quality.”

Elara also continues to work with tech partners to fuel innovation. The company recently announced a partnership with ServiceNow in an effort to improve clinical and operational workflows with automated appointment scheduling, scheduling and shift management, travel route guidance, pre-visit management and digital documentation.

“For example, one project underway is schedule optimization in our Personal Care Services service line. This will allow us to improve job satisfaction among Elara caregivers while simultaneously improving the experience for our clients who are happier when they have consistency in caregivers,” he said. “Quality of care also improves when the same care teams work with patients/clients on a regular basis.”

Hannah Wolfson is editor at HomeCare.