A Roadmap for Evaluating Care-at-Home Programmes: 6 Practical Tips to Get Started
As more healthcare moves into patients’ homes, it is becoming increasingly important to define, measure, and evaluate these programmes. At the recent Current Health Customer Summit in London, Dr Juliana Pugmire delivered a presentation about how to approach this challenge, where to start, and how to contribute to the growing body of research.
Tip 1: Start now
There is a terrific advantage to building an evaluation from the beginning of your programme. This preparation can have an impact on the quality of your data, your results, and your findings. But if your programme is already underway, it’s not too late! Gain a deep understanding of your programme’s goals, target audience, and the specific conditions in which it operates. This knowledge will help you determine what works, for whom, in which circumstances, and why.
Tip 2: Identify your key data points
Start with your programme’s stated purposes (reducing readmissions, increasing capacity, etc.). Data sources to consider are:
- Demographics and clinical history
- Programme and technology adherence, which is a good proxy for how acceptable patients find the technology
- Patient-level outcomes (such as changes in weight or blood pressure)
- Population-level outcomes (like readmission rates)
- Comparator data, which could include different cohorts of patients who did or did not receive an intervention, historic, or national data
- Cost and revenue data, including operational costs and labour costs. Consider different cost metrics, such as bed days saved or length of stay, to evaluate cost savings. Ensure proper comparison groups when calculating cost saving
Tip 3: Don’t forget qualitative data
Qualitative data, says Dr Pugmire, “Provide insights into ‘how’ something is happening and ‘why’ it might be happening, while quantitative data describes ‘what’ is happening.” Qualitative measures are a great way to and capture perspectives from patients, caregivers, and providers. Consider building your patient-facing questionnaires in the Current Health platform.
Remember, you don’t need to measure all of these in order to get started or to deliver meaningful insights about your programme. Start with the top priorities as they align to your programme’s goals.
Tip 4: Track down your data
Does the data you want to analyse already exist in your organisation, and if so, where? Much of the data you want will likely be housed in your EPR/EHR. For these, you may need to have a report created for your tracking purposes. Other data points may be easily accessible in the Current Health clinical dashboard.
Tip 5: Articulate expectations
Is this good? This question can be a challenge if you haven’t already aligned on what key stakeholders are expecting to see in your care-at-home programme. Your initial benchmark may be the results the bricks-and-mortar services see. Connecting with other care-at-home leaders can be helpful for adding nuance and adjustment to established benchmarks designed for traditional models of care.
Tip 6: Establish a data review practice
Determine the cadence and stakeholders for reviewing your programme’s data. Ensure you include clinical, operational, and technical leaders, and discuss the story your data tell. Then put your data into context for your governing body and make a case for how and what you think could help your programme continue to improve and grow.
Evaluating care-at-home is no small feat! We hope these tips are helpful for getting started, but please remember: the Current Health Clinical Research team is here to support your measurement, evaluation, and research needs. Learn more about this service or reach out to your Customer Success Manager to get started.
In conclusion, evaluating digital health programmes is essential for assessing their effectiveness, value, and impact on patient outcomes and healthcare systems. The massive growth in the digital health sector, accompanied by the diversity of solutions available worldwide, calls for rigorous evaluation to identify what works, for whom, and under what circumstances. While traditional evaluation methods may not always align with the dynamic nature of software development, the use of real-world evidence provides an opportunity to gather meaningful insights.
To successfully evaluate digital health programmes, it is crucial to consider patient preferences and safety, identify appropriate outcomes, and engage the relevant stakeholders, including healthcare providers, leaders, and clinical champions. Moreover, building an evaluation from the start enables the collection of high-quality data, yielding robust results and findings. By adhering to best practices in programme evaluation, healthcare organisations can support the growth of virtual wards and digital healthcare solutions, contribute to the wider evidence base, and secure long-term funding.
Overall, a comprehensive and systematic evaluation of digital health programmes not only demonstrates their impact and value but also helps identify areas for improvement and optimise care delivery. By leveraging the power of evaluation, we can drive the advancement of digital health, enhance patient experiences, and shape the future of healthcare.