Koazie Helps Families Find the Right Post-Acute Care Facility
By Dr. Michelle Thai and Dan Bailey
As specialists in rehabilitative medicine, our job and mission is to get our patients healthy enough after a severe injury or illness to leave the hospital and get back home to finish their recovery. Oftentimes, however, that’s overly optimistic, and patients require an interim stop at a post-acute care facility – say, for continued intensive physical therapy or additional hands-on medical attention – to regain their strength.
Choosing the right facility can be overwhelming for patients and family members even in the best circumstances. After the stress of managing the initial hospitalization, families might only have an hour or two to find a step-down location. And even if they identify a best-fit facility, they still might be disappointed to learn no bed is available or the patient’s insurance isn’t accepted. The search starts anew, with greater urgency.
We created Koazie as a trusted, patient-centered online resource to help families navigate this critical transition.
At first, we aimed to introduce transparency and quality metrics into selecting a skilled nursing facility for post-acute care. However, we recognized the need to partner and approached Innovation Lab based on its track record of helping innovators take their ideas and products to the next level. At the outset, the Lab’s rigorous research and analysis identified the broader market opportunities and began charting a roadmap for national growth. In collaboration with the Lab, we now have expanded Koazie’s scope to help connect patients with other specialty facilities, including rehabilitation hospitals, hospice centers and memory units, to name just a few; we also seized an opportunity to introduce a marketplace feature.
Koazie provides a friendly face when families need it most. After all, when we discharge our patients, we want them to have a good care experience at the next facility, so they don’t bounce back to our hospital.
Giving Trusted Support when Needed
We don’t want families to struggle at this juncture. We know, because we’ve been there, as we share co-founder Michelle’s story:
My mother was suffering late-stage cancer, and we couldn’t take care of her at first at home. She needed to move to a facility where she would receive quality care, and even I couldn’t do the job well; we ended up going with a place that was convenient. She wanted to be discharged in two days. The emotional part, the logistical part and the medical part were each a mess.
Leveraging the technology skills of Michelle’s son, Jonathan Thai, Koazie offers a real-time platform where hospital case managers can see what facilities are available to meet their patients’ needs, including medical services offered, physical locations (most families naturally want to be close to home), and COVID-19 protocols, to start. Koazie serves up a comprehensive and curated list of facilities that align with the patient’s parameters.
We also bolstered Koazie by integrating federal quality ratings data from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services(CMS), presented with an easy-to-understand star rating system and a link to get more information if needed. This ensures that families don’t have to scramble to find trusted information on a facility’s caliber of care, which is oftentimes difficult to interpret, even for industry veterans.
We come at this from the family’s vantage point: What other services or treatment equipment does the patient need to have the best experience? Everything available via Koazie is designed not to overwhelm families but to provide value-added options of things they might not have considered. Koazie also can be leveraged when the patient is home to find nursing care or alternative therapies.
Everything is available with a few keystrokes, allowing case managers to share tablet devices with families and save them from calling multiple places and not connecting with the right representatives. Users can even submit a short form on the platform to have selected facilities contact them.
Seeking Support for a Developing Idea
With a basic idea and platform in place, our Koazie team approached the Innovation Lab about two years ago to explore opportunities to make this a national resource. Support from Ganesh Laxminarayan, the Lab’s Executive Director for Health IT/CTO, and a leading industry partner that the Lab brought to the table, helped us uncover untapped possibilities. For example, we added a marketplace that maintains an inclusive experience, where users can find a facility and also outfit the patient with necessary medical supplies and equipment.
Because we are on the front lines, we understand the needs, and we helped the Lab team see the value in Koazie. Related research conducted by the Lab on this healthcare segment actually underscored the opportunity to develop this platform into a broader ecosystem for post-acute care.
Of course, many people have a natural tendency to consider skilled nursing facilities in caring for the elderly, and Koazie certainly can help families find an appropriate long-term location for loved ones. In fact, we’re looking at a doubling in the number of Americans ages 65 and older by 2060, when they will represent nearly a quarter of our population. The research also reveals a drop in mortality among older Americans has extended our average lifespan by a decade since 1950.
But keep in mind, hospitals also treat young cancer patients who might need inpatient infusion care or suffer a debilitating accident and require therapy to learn how to walk again. And the COVID-19 pandemic created new challenges of finding post-acute care facilities. The Lab’s development team responded by automating transmission of census and COVID-19 status from post-acute care facilities to case managers in a simple, easy-to-use manner, which has given case managers several hours back in their day.
As you consider the spectrum of post-acute care needs, Koazie becomes a single vehicle for transitioning medical records easily with patients, including sharing with their primary physician – who often doesn’t learn about a hospitalization when it happens. For us, the best destination and journey gets patients back home, under the care of their regular physicians, even if by remote monitoring or telehealth. We have the technology to close these gaps in the journey, but too much of what we do still happens in silos.
Driving Change in the Industry
We believe Koazie can revolutionize the continuum of care, starting with its subscription model to generate big wins for both audiences. Delivering a quality patient experience remains the primary mission of every organization involved, but managing costs is an important part of the equation.
Hospitals and healthcare system subscribers can streamline how they deliver important information in a moment that matters, and they also can capture important metrics once a patient has left their direct care. Keeping patients within their network – including with their system’s own providers and post-acute care venues – can preserve an important revenue stream.
On the flip side, subscribing post-acute care facilities can better assist families by delivering greater details to families who are looking for more information as they weigh their options. That might include a comprehensive listing and description of medical offerings, related amenities (on-site salons and bingo are important for some patients), and even the languages spoken by providers and staff members. In this COVID-19 era that limits on-site access, facility administrators can upload gallery images and 3-D video tours like you find in the real estate industry. Ultimately, giving clear, easy insight into quality ratings so families can compare potential facilities also will spark improvements in patient care standards.
Ganesh’s team, along with the Lab’s collective expertise and resources, has been instrumental in our ability to accelerate and scale development of Koazie. Ganesh and his team remain keenly tuned to voice of customers –atients, families, case managers and post-acute care administrators – and continually update Koazie with features that meet their evolving needs and drive tangible value.
Our passion for driving change in the industry has grown along with our expanded vision for Koazie. From its initial vision, Koazie has evolved from a web application to learn about nursing facilities to a physician-led, clinically integrated, transition of care platform to support patients, hospitals, and post-acute care facilities along this journey.
Created by medical professionals to meet patient needs, Koazie currently is engaging hospital and post-acute care facility subscribers in Southern California. By summer, we hope to expand to other markets. We invite you to explore how Koazie can support you in getting the right post-acute care for yourself or a family member when the time arises. After all, doesn’t each of us deserve the best care?
Have an innovation that could improve healthcare delivery? Submit your idea to the Lab now.
Dr. Michelle Thai is co-medical director of rehabilitation at Providence / St. Jude’s Centers for Rehabilitation, which offers one of California’s most innovative lists of therapies and services for stroke patients.
Dan Bailey is executive director of skilled nursing facility collaboratives for Providence Home and Community Care.