The ‘Force’ is with Northwell surgeons, patients

Binding the galaxy together (at least, doctors and patients): Northwell Health is stronger with "Force," working title for Force Therapeutics' provider-patient communications software.

Post-operative connections between Northwell Health surgeons and patients have been strengthened by another technological upgrade.

The New Hyde Park-based health system and New York City-based Force Therapeutics, a web-based patient-management specialist, will implement a “customized video-based software platform” promoting better post-operative care, according to a two-year deal announced this month.

Financial terms were not disclosed, but the Force Therapeutics protocols follow an evolving healthcare industry trend using mobile technologies and customized applications to keep doctors and patients in touch.

In this case, the tech is focused on certain orthopedic surgeries, allowing care teams to connect with patients recovering from knee, hip-replacement and a host of fracture-related procedures.

The software – accessible by computer, smartphone or tablet – activates when a surgery is scheduled and provides a range of pre- and post-operative care options. Primarily, the innovative program facilitates communication between patients and healthcare providers via secured messaging, allowing providers to assess and patients to ask questions, and share photos of incisions or sutures as necessary.

The Force Therapeutics suite also includes real-time alerts, individualized patient checklists (tracking pain levels, medications and other factors), a scheduling function, video-based physical therapy programs and other key treatment components.

The idea is to reduce hospital readmissions, mitigate emergency situations, decrease overall healthcare costs and otherwise improve outcomes. Northwell Health Vice President Giles Scuderi, who heads the health system’s orthopedic service line, sees “immense potential.”

“Force is a convenient way for patients to stay in touch with the orthopedic care team between visits,” Scuderi said in a statement, noting the software allows providers to “quickly address many of the main causes of complications before, during and after joint-replacement surgery.”

The two-year deal follows a nine-month pilot project Northwell Health and Force Therapeutics conducted in 2016, involving 200 Medicare patients and orthopedic teams from Long Island Jewish Valley Stream Hospital and Manhattan’s Lenox Hill Hospital.

While it provides definite patient-outcome advantages, the Force Therapeutics program also helps the health system control costs mandated by a year-old Medicare/Medicaid initiative.

In April 2016, the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services launched the Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement program, a “bundled payment system” that made hospitals performing total joint-replacement surgeries ultimately responsible for quality of care – from administration to surgery to inpatient recovery to rehab – for Medicare fee-for-service patients, extending up to 90 days after their procedures.

That makes better process management a must, according to Zenobia Brown, medical director of health system-wide tech integrator Northwell Health Solutions.

“Managing orthopedic care inside the hospital is just the tip of the iceberg,” Brown noted. “Under the bundle payments, low hospital readmission rates link both to overall patient satisfaction and overall cost of care.

“The software allows patients and the care-giving team to partner on a level not available to us before.”

To date, seven Northwell Health hospitals have incorporated the Force Therapeutics software platform, with roughly 1,300 patients enrolled.


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