Healthcare providers across the nation have shifted gears and switched to telehealth—and so have care and case managers. Aerial helps care and case managers virtually connect with members to manage health, reduce costs, drive efficiency and improve the experience of patients and their caregivers.

In recent years, care management—the coordination of care for patients with complex healthcare needs—has emerged as a way for health plans to improve the quality of care delivered while reducing overall costs. Care managers help coordinate care among multiple physicians; provide member education; assist with medication management; and offer referrals to community agencies, providers and wellness resources. Successful care management programs involve face-to-face interactions with patients, according to the Alliance of Community Health Plans (ACHP), but during the COVID-19 outbreak, many are shifting gears to virtual patient interaction.

“There’s a rapid shift in the industry away from face-to-face interactions,” says Connie Webster, senior director of clinical consulting at Medecision. “It may be temporary, but it will likely continue post-pandemic, so now is the time to explore how to engage members using virtual care management.”

As we move through COVID-19, there are a host of complex situations that care managers will need to address, adds Tamara Cull, DHA, senior vice president of portfolio management at Medecision. “We’re seeing an increase in behavioral health issues and the need to address social determinants of health such as substance abuse, homelessness and food insecurity. These are complex needs that are better solved with a virtual connection to see a person face-to-face to establish trust and read body language,” Cull says.

Enter Aerial by Medecision

AerialTM has integrated specific COVID-19 enhancements to support care management teams in providing the highest level of care for members. No one ever expects a pandemic, but Aerial has been prepared for a long time and was designed to support care and case management in an increasingly digital health world, says Carol Helton, group senior vice president and chief growth and product officer at Medecision.

“When the crisis hit, we immediately started creating tools that were specific to COVID-19,” Cull adds. “We developed tools that could help identify high-risk members, patient assessments, educational materials, and plans of care specific to social determinants of health and behavioral health issues. We are bridging the gap with virtual engagement tools for care managers to still be able to meet face-to-face with members.”

These enhancements to the Aerial platform include:

  • COVID-19 Care Management Program: A COVID-19 assessment, along with clinical programs, has been deployed to all Aerial clients. These include a combined screening and general assessment questionnaire.
  • Mechanical Ventilator Case Management Program: Aerial offers a mechanical ventilator questionnaire and case management program for care managers monitoring recently discharged members requiring invasive or non-invasive mechanical ventilator support, and continued long-term care in a home setting.
  • Behavioral Health Support: Our clients serve many people struggling with depression and anxiety during this season, Cull says. Aerial’s evidence-based, peer-reviewed behavioral health assessment is now available for all clients to use for members and patients who need mental health support.
  • Aerial InCircle: InCircle, a social-mobile personal health record + secure, permission-based texting, connects healthcare consumers to their care manager, care team and caregivers with real-time access to their full health history and health risks.

One of the best features of Aerial is the fact that you can use it from anywhere, Helton says. It’s a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform, so you just need a web browser with a VPN connection. This means that care managers don’t have to be sitting inside an office or at a healthcare organization. Unlike other care management platforms, Aerial also has the ability to provide insights based off of data and analytics. “You can have a lot of data, but if you don’t have the technology that gives insights, it’s not helpful,” Cull says. Aerial is also designed for any kind of healthcare program that’s doing care management, whether it’s a health plan or an organization delivering provider-based or community-based care.

Reducing Costs With Prevention

Prevention is key to reducing healthcare costs, and Aerial can help. “By bringing virtual care management to the masses, we’re trying to prevent acute hospitalizations by helping manage conditions; closing gaps in care; and identifying societal support services such as housing, access to transportation and meals,” Webster says. “We know that if we don’t manage these things, people are more likely to get sick—and it’s something that could have likely been prevented.”

When it comes to managing care during COVID-19, Aerial can help identify people who are most at risk—such as people with asthma or diabetes. Care managers can pull these people into preemptive programs to monitor how they’re feeling, Helton says.

Improving Efficiency by Automation

Care managers are not technology robots inputting information into computers. They’re real people who impact the lives of other people, Cull says.

“We’re seeing a large drive in unemployment,” she adds. “If care management teams start to downsize, our tools need to help them be more efficient as many care managers’ caseloads double.”

Aerial is an automated workflow system, which means by its very nature that automation is at the core and that it’s designed to do more with less. “Aerial can help care managers figure out where to start their workday,” Cull says. “It can help them prioritize which member to reach out to first. They’re able to do more in a day with these tools than they could have done before.”

Enhancing the User Experience—Aerial Is a “Game Changer”

Both care managers and members use the Aerial platform—and it can help improve the care management experience for both parties.

“Care managers have a better experience when they can actually connect with members,” Webster says. “It’s satisfying to engage with members and help them engage with their own care. The world we’ve lived in has been about telephone outreach—and how many people actually answer their phone? But with Aerial, members and care managers can connect more easily.”

Aerial enhances the patient and member experience by delivering relevant information designed to answer questions. Plus, members can create a circle of care using Aerial’s InCircle and invite others—such as their doctor, daughter, neighbor, sister—into the circle to communicate about their health. “This communication platform—especially in the world we’re living in right now—is so critically important for people to have as they talk with providers and keep caregivers informed,” Helton says. “It’s a game changer.”

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