Altruista-Health-Ride-along-Mobile-Clinician-Rural-Remote-Care-2020
There's really nothing like stepping into the shoes of the person who is using your technology every day  Yvonne Sprenkle, Manager, Product Management
Apr 22, 2020

Getting On the Road to Better Care Management

A team of Altruista staffers took to the road last fall to see how the company’s Mobile Clinician app works in real time in the hands of a care coordinator. The app, which won an innovation award last year, makes the care management functions of GuidingCare portable on tablet devices so members in out of the way places can get the health services they need. The Altruista team went on these “ride-alongs” in different states over a period of several months. They liked what they saw and brought back valuable lessons.

Many of the areas they traversed in several states were in remote and rural places – small towns, mountain communities and farms. Many places did not have reliable internet service.

“We watched care coordinators go through the work they do in GuidingCare every day,” said Yvonne Sprenkle, manager of Altruista’s product management. “At times users weren’t familiar with every small shortcut they could use to make their work easier.”

Going with the Flow

One thing the team learned is that patients and caregivers appreciated the outreach and opportunity to interact in their own homes, especially when travel to a healthcare site would have been a logistical challenge. Another lesson came from watching a care coordinator work with patients and caregivers in real life.

“We were able to watch a care coordinator interact with a mother and daughter,” Sprenkle said. “The mother was the caretaker and very anxious to share information about her daughter’s needs and condition. She spoke quickly and eagerly.”

This might be a problem without a nimble app that was easy to navigate. The coordinator was able to move around in an iPad to fill in data as she received it, instead of trying to force the mother to conform to the order and organization of the assessment being completed.

“The coordinator listened and was able to grab different pieces of information and get them into the assessment, while still listening to the mother,” Sprenkle said. Part of the assessment involved collecting signatures from the mother at multiple points in the conversation. Again, Mobile Clinician and the iPad were up to the task.

“The care coordinator typed into her iPad, then laid it flat on the table for the mom to sign,” Sprenkle said. “Then the coordinator took it back and resumed her data entry into the system. This process went back and forth multiple times. It was completely seamless.”

Small Changes Yield Big Results

In some cases, care coordinators needed a few handy tips to help them over the speed bumps in their work. For example, one user learned there was no need to mentally calculate a patient’s age, because Mobile Clinician generates it for them based on the date of birth already in the system. There were other shortcuts Mobile Clinician offered that care coordinators weren’t using because they were simply in the habit of working another way, as most of us do.

The teams ventured to areas that had spotty internet service, but even this was not a problem for Mobile Clinician. The app can accept data and collect signatures while offline. The care manager simply syncs Mobile Clinician back up to the GuidingCare platform when internet connectivity is restored.

The team enjoyed their ride-alongs and would like to repeat them. They came away with ideas for improving Mobile Clinician and want to road-test them once changes are made.

“There’s really nothing like stepping into the shoes of the person who is using your technology every day,” Sprenkle said. “We are recommending ride-alongs as a best practice for empathizing with the user, innovating in truly helpful ways and appreciating the good work that is already being done!”