Welcome Heather Krengel, Sales Manager, Southeastern USA

logy to improve outcomes for patient.  She will manage the Southeastern USA sales region, and we’re thrilled to have her on board.

In addition to her extensive professional and clinical qualifications, we also learned that Heather has experience in lawn maintenance and a sweet tooth for coconut cake – we think she’ll fit right in here.  Get to know her here:

What was your first job?
Well there were no child labor laws back then…… I helped my brother mow grass and haul hay during a Mississippi summer (bad idea). He stiffed me a few times and I soon found that working in the local grocery store was much cooler!

What are you most proud of in your career so far?
My background is clinical Oncology. So definitely the fact that I have been able to help folks through some of the most difficult times in their lives with care, compassion, laughter, and grace. You can earn stripes on a resume, but nothing takes the place of holding the hand of a person who has reached the end stage of their life. Learning how to do that has given me a certain freedom in life.

What are you most looking forward to working on at Equicare?
I can’t wait to help educate cancer care sites on how to build strong successful navigation and survivorship programs that will serve them and their patients well for years to come. There is a clear, growing need for both of these right now, and folks need to know how it can be done well from the get-go.

What do you think of the state of the Healthcare IT industry  and how it relates to oncology?
The Oncology industry is booming! With the aging of the “baby boomers” and even the generation that followed, we are starting to need more and more health care. Thankfully there are more choices in treatments and technologies and increasing numbers of places in which to be treated. Healthcare IT is absolutely vital in order to link technologies together with sites and services to help give the patient the most beneficial outcome. It’s not “one stop shopping” any longer. Healthcare IT must be able to connect various networks together in order to follow and track that patient for best practices and outcomes. I’m so thankful to represent one of the software companies that can do just that.

How have you seen technology improve the lives of those suffering from long term conditions or illnesses?
I am a huge believer in early detection! Whether it be through genetic testing, age appropriate examinations, or preventive care, we could not have seen the survivorship and wellness numbers expand the way they have over the last couple of decades without the advances in technology. I have seen adults that were diagnosed with colon cancer or breast cancer who were able to spare their children the same fate due to a simple blood test – that’s the kind of technology that I can get excited about.

What are you reading right now?
The Boys in the Boat

You need to go on holiday tomorrow- where would you go?
New Zealand. I hear the hiking and people are amazing.

What would you eat for your last meal on earth?
That one is easy, my mother’s homemade coconut cake. Probably the entire thing.

Want to get in touch with Heather to discuss your survivorship and navigation program needs  (or just share your magic advice for managing a three year old)?  Heather will be be happy to hear from you at heather.krengel@equicarehealth.com

CASE STUDY: Phelps County Regional Medical Center Installs ECS

“Equicare brings us the Navigation and Survivorship functionality we were looking for, and enables us to keep in closer, more regular contact with our patients to improve quality of care”

Carol Walter, MSN, RN
Nurse Navigator, Oncology Services, PCRMC

pdfDownload the PCRMC Case Study (pdf)

Background

Phelps County Regional Medical Center (PCRMC) offers excellence in integrated cancer services, with a cancer care team comprised of highly skilled physicians and medical professionals who specialize in an array of cancer treatment fields, and treat a wide variety of cancers. The center, a hospital owned outpatient radiation and medical oncology services provider, is accredited by the American College of Surgeons (ACS) Commission on Cancer (CoC) and is currently in a growth phase, adding a new cancer center to its care network. Read more

CASE STUDY: Southside Regional Medical Center Installs ECS

“EQUICARE CS is incredibly intuitive and user friendly.  The great service and easy-to-use interface has made implementing ECS at Southside extremely easy, and we’re very pleased with the results.”
Lori McNulty, RN,
Oncology Nurse Navigator, SRMC

pdfDownload the SRMC Case Study (pdf)

BACKGROUND

Southside Regional Medical CenterThe Cancer Center at Southside Regional Medical Center (SRMC) offers advanced technology for treating a wide range of cancers and is fully accredited with Commendation by the American College of Surgeons (ACS) Commission on Cancer (CoC). SRMC has a busy radiation therapy center that diagnoses nearly 500 new cases of cancer each year. In 2012 the center introduced a medical oncology program, added a full time Nurse Navigator to their team, and began seeking a software tool that would enable the provision of organized navigation and survivorship care for their patients. Additionally, as the next phase of CoC  accreditation requires that cancer centers have a formal plan for the delivery of continuum of care services (which include navigation, psychosocial distress screening and survivorship  programs), SRMC wanted to be proactive in providing these programs to maintain their  accreditation.

Initially using a paper based system to track patient navigation, SRMC was seeking a  software solution that would provide the tools necessary for the Navigator to centrally track patients in both Radiation and Medical Oncology. SRMC was also looking to provide  long term survivorship care plans, distress assessments, questionnaires, and educational materials for their patients. SRMC wanted to ensure that all of the information collected  through the system would be available to the full care team, including care providers working externally. Finally, with a rapidly growing cancer program, SRMC also wanted to ensure that  their selected solution was scalable, intuitive and easy to use, with minimal administrative overhead.

SOLUTION

Southside Cancer center selected EQUICARE CS (ECS) as their navigation and survivorship  tool in March 2012 and went live with the system three months later in June 2012. The installation process began with a kick off meeting at which members of both the Equicare and SRMC teams discussed and agreed upon IT needs, workflows and other system configurations, and was followed by routinely scheduled status meetings to ensure the process went smoothly. SRMC’s Nurse Navigator is the primary system user and administrator, but ECS is also used by infusion nurses, social workers interns and others.

SRMC analyzed their workflows and use cases prior to installation and as a result, were able to launch with customizations specific to their organization including unique documentation, specific categorization and display of various assessments, and several custom fields. Equicare provided training, suggestions, and back-end development, but with the configurable design of ECS, the SRMC team was able to  perform many configurations on their own.  SRMC ramped up their Navigation program over a period of time and as of April 2013 all patients requiring Navigation were entered using ECS.

SRMC’s nurse navigator  uses the system to track referrals and patient appointments, distribute and collect responses to distress screening assessments, add notes to patient records, assess pain, provide nutritional and educational information, and track the financial resources that are sourced for patients. The system is also used to generate a variety of reports including system utilization and user time tracking, referrals assessment, changes in patient distress over time, patient outcomes, and navigational summaries. SRMC uses the survivorship functionality in ECS to provide their radiation oncology patients with long term survivorship care plans that include treatment summaries, care team information, follow-up plans, and educational information specific to each patient. This printed plan is generated through ECS by the radiation therapy RN, and then provided to patients at the one month follow up appointment after radiation completion.

Results

EQUICARE CS meets the needs of SRMC by providing organizational, clinical, and administrative benefits, as well as enabling their maintenance of accreditation compliance. By taking advantage of the navigation features in ECS, the center can include more patients in their navigation program, and by providing survivorship care plans and distress assessments they may also improve the quality of care for patients. With EQUICARE CS, Southside is on track to provide full navigation, psychosocial distress screening, and survivorship programs in  order to meet the next phase of CoC accreditation requirements.

Through ECS, SRMC’s Nurse Navigator has the tools to become more efficient in tracking referrals, appointments and assessments, and the center can therefore include more patients in the navigation program. The number of patients included in the Navigation program has approximately doubled since ECS was implemented. Additionally, Equicare’s navigation tools provide the center with a centralized way to store and access documents, patient details, and care team information, which ensures that accurate data is available to all members of  the care team, regardless of their physical location. As the center continues to grow, they will also have the capability to easily scale their  program to include more campuses and care team members.

By providing patients with distress assessments and questionnaires that can be completed prior to their appointments, SRMC minimizes the time patients spend waiting in the clinic, which may improve satisfaction with care. Additionally, through analysis of patient responses, SRMC now provides feedback to patients in distress, and aggregates population data to determine points of care where the patient experience can be improved. SRMC’s provision of long term care plans in printed format can also improve patient care by reducing the distress patients may feel at the end of treatment, which is often a time of uncertainty

Prior to ECS implementation, the generation of printed care plans was prohibitively time-consuming, and so this information was shared with patients orally. Through ECS survivorship care plans are now provided to 100% of Radiation Oncology patients, many of whom have provided positive feedback to the center on the content of these plans. Additionally, the inclusion of targeted educational material in these plans ensures patients are aware of side and late effects of treatment, and provides suggestions for health and nutritional activities that can improve outcomes.

As a busy and growing cancer center, it was important for SRMC to minimize the administrative overhead involved in implementing a new tool like ECS. The Equicare project team fixed issues as they arose, and also added feature requests to the product road map to ensure future releases better meet SRMC (and other customer) needs. ECS was intuitive and easy for SRMC’s team to learn, and the software has rapidly become an integral part of their cancer program.

SRMC sought out a care coordination solution to improve the quality of care for patients, and thereby maintain CoC accreditation; with ECS, the center is on track to do both. Not only do the tools in ECS provide functionality to improve the patient experience and meet CoC requirements for continuum of care, but the reports generated by ECS make providing information to auditors faster and easier. Additionally, by documenting Navigator time, and the benefits to patients, SRMC can rapidly evaluate and rationalize the investment in a Navigation program.

ABOUT SOUTHSIDE REGIONAL  MEDICAL CENTER

Southside Regional Medical CenterSouthside Regional Medical Center is a 300-bed, general acute care hospital located in central Virginia. The hospital has more than 1,500 employees and the medical staff is comprised of nearly 340 physicians representing more than 35 specialties.  The 420,000 square foot facility is situated on a 50-acre campus and offers the latest technology in order to serve more than 200,000 local residents. SRMC offers a full array of comprehensive outpatient services on its main campus and boasts five satellite outpatient centers: Southside Regional Renal Services (Petersburg), Southside Behavioral Health Services (Petersburg), Southside Rehabilitation Services (Petersburg and Colonial Heights), and Colonial Heights Imaging, a full service diagnostic imaging center (Colonial Heights).  The hospital is also home to three professional schools: Southside Regional Medical Center School of Nursing, School of Radiation Sciences, and School of Diagnostic Medical Sonography. A new cancer center will open on campus, adjacent to the hospital in January, 2014. For more information, please visit: www.srmconline.com

Equicare Health in the BIV TOP100 Fastest Growing Companies List

Equicare Health on the BIV Fastest Growing Companies LIst 2013We are pleased to announce that Equicare Health has made Business in Vancouver’s list of Top 100 Fastest Growing Companies in BC for 2013.  The awards measure growth in revenue over a 5 year period, and Equicare placed 12th overall.

How did we do it?  Equicare’s President & CEO, Len Grenier, answers a few questions below  to provide some insight on how the company has succeeded in growing during a market recession.

What have been some of your greatest challenges in the past 5 years?

Introducing new healthcare technology to the US market during a recession, while also trying to raise funds as an early stage company has certainly proven challenging.  EQUICARE CS provides an innovative, and very effective approach long term patient care, but introducing a disruptive product at a time when many health care organizations are focusing their investment on upgrading their EHR technology is tough.  We’ve seen time and time again how healthcare organizations and their patients benefit both operationally and clinically through our tools but it’s a difficult road when organizations are facing dramatic changes in the regulatory regime that governs health-care IT. 

What are some key business lessons you’d share from your years in business?

Customer focused product development has got to remain front and center in our minds.  This ensures that we evolve based on real needs, rather than trends.  To remain focused on customers we keep our finger on the pulse of the industry, which includes looking ahead to the ever-changing healthcare regulations that impact the tools the market is asking for.  Equicare is fortunate to have an incredibly talented team with both clinical and technical expertise; having the right people makes a huge difference not only to the quality of the product, but also to the level of customer satisfaction, and office morale in general. 

How have changes to accreditation and regulation in the healthcare industry affected you in the past few years?

The ARRA-HiTech Act included a component intended to reduce the rate of growth of healthcare costs in the US by mandating the adoption of Electronic Health Records (EHRs) using a combination of incentives and penalties.  This has lead to a significant increase in spend on EHRs and tended to deplete IT budgets that might have been directed elsewhere.  The need to demonstrate Meaningful Use of EHR’s has been positive for us in that it has helped drive the sale of our patient engagement product, but may have focused budget away from important healthcare tools, such as survivorship and navigation software.

Looking towards 2015, the Commission on Cancer, the dominant accreditation body for cancer centers in the US, has published audit requirements which state that all accredited cancer centers must comply with new Continuity of Care requirements by having a navigation program in place, a standard means of performing psychosocial distress assessments, and a survivorship program for all their new analytic cases.  Our product is currently the only commercial product in the market that assists customers to be compliant with all three requirements and has been cited by the CoC as a best practice.  We feel confident that Equicare has a real opportunity to both improve quality of care for patients, and meeting our customers’ accreditation needs through ECS.

What are some key issues to watch over the next 12 months that will affect the healthcare sector?

Because our customers are so heavily US-based, the evolving regulatory environment in healthcare in the US is one of the driving forces in product adoption for us.  Our software is ahead of the curve in terms of regulatory compliance, so we anticipate a strong response to increasingly stringent health care regulations, but we understand that the healthcare landscape continues to change and our ability to adapt rapidly is important to succeeding.

Equicare Health is a Vancouver based company with a global customer based and partnerships with Varian Medical Systems, the American Association for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO), and Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society among others.  For more information about Equicare or our products, please contact us.

Welcome Margaret Nash, VP of Sales

to get her insights on the  value of healthcare IT, as well as the merits of her mom’s apple pie…..

What was your first job?
Well this question is going to show my age unfortunately- my first job was exporting cobalt machines and sources to hospitals throughout the world.

What are you most proud of in your career so far?
That I have been able to work with healthcare providers, gain a deeper understanding of their needs, and ultimately find solutions that enable them to make a difference in the lives of oncology patients and their families.

What are you most looking forward to working on at Equicare?
Mostly, I’m looking forward to working with this incredibly talented start up organization in an effort to supply healthcare providers and patients with the tools to manage chronic illnesses.

What do you think of the state of the Healthcare IT industry and its future?
That’s a tough question. Honestly Obama care is scaring a lot of people and causing an uproar. The next 18 months will be interesting.

How have you seen technology improve the lives of those suffering from long term conditions or illnesses?
I think the answer lies in the question, in that today many conditions can be managed. For example, years ago no one would have referred to cancer as being a manageable disease. We treated the cancer, but it was viewed by the patient as a death sentence. Today, through the advancement of many different technologies, clinicians can detect and diagnose cancer down to the biological level, customize a treatment regime and create a pathway for a patient to participate in their own care plan post treatment. Technology has made this all possible.

I’m reminded by this even more everyday when I’m able to talk to my mom!  She had stage 3 breast cancer, both breasts were preserved and shes been cancer free for almost 5 years now. Years ago, she would have been looking at a radical mastectomy and I can almost guarantee that her outlook on life wouldn’t even be close to where it is today.

What are you reading right now?
I’m just getting ready to start a new one titled “Half Time”. My husband thought I would enjoy it. I’ll have to let you know if he was right.

You need to go on holiday tomorrow- where would you go?
That’s easy –  Curacao !

What would you eat for your last meal on earth?
Ahh, another easy one, “my mom’s hot apple pie”

We’re pleased to welcome Marageret to the team and look forward to her contributions.  Want to ask her a question about her next holiday in Curacao or get her thoughts on the healthcare industry?  Feel free to send her a message at margaret.nash@equicarehealth.com 

Business in Vancouver – Interview with Cogent CEO, Len Grenier

Mission: Develop Cogent Health Solutions startup into a successful commercial health-care industry contender

Assets: Lengthy experience in building technology companies

Yield: CEO and president of a health-care company with global marketplace potential in applying management software to improve the effectiveness of cancer treatments

Read more

Entrepreneurs Team-Up to Finance and Take Cogent Health Solutions to Market

Cogent Health Solutions today announced that serial entrepreneurs responsible for building three of British Columbia’s most successful health and technology companies – ALI Technologies, Creo, and MDS Laboratories – have partnered to finance and play strategic roles in establishing Cogent as the leader in the cancer survivorship data management market. A $3.0 million venture financing from Yaletown Venture Partners and angel investors is backing the team as it prepares to launch with major US-based healthcare partners.

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