Kaleida Health in New York is offering patients a social mobile app to share their health status and care plan with their care community, improving patient engagement and more deeply involving caregivers in virtual information sharing.

The app is called InCircle, and Kaleida Health, with four hospitals, two long-term care facilities, more than 80 outpatient clinics, school health centers and a home health care agency launched the project about two months ago after a year of preparation, says Momba Chia, director of public health. “We wanted to have clear pathways to exchange data,” he adds.

For now, the app, part of 10 applications recently introduced by population health management vendor Medecision, is limited to a handful of patients in a care management program. Clinicians or care managers will advocate that a patient get a free InCircle app, download it to a patient’s phone and show the patient how to use it.

Most participating providers have told Kaleida Health that they will not return phone calls from patients with the app, but will use it to communicate via text messaging.

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The program is in the pilot stage, according to Chia, and so far patient response has been positive. Kaleida Health got the app to support the rolling out of “health homes” to the local Medicaid population to serve patients from one to 21 years of age with multiple chronic physical or psychological conditions to help families better manage their conditions.

So far, the patients most interested in the app are between 12 and 18 years old because they are the experienced in using apps and appreciate the “trusted circle” that the app offers to have secure and confidential communication with clinicians or care managers.

Kaleida Health was able to conduct the pilot program because the vendor gave very affordable terms; the pilot will continue for the next year, Chia says. At that time, the organization will decide if the return on investment and resource time spent on the program has been sufficient; whether patient treatment adherence and outcomes have improved; and the degree to which the app has helped to reduce avoidable services such as emergency department visits.

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