December 21, 2020

2020: A [Virtual] Year in Review

The COVID-19 pandemic irrevocably changed the world of orthopedics. While mandatory, in-person joint class or multiple nights’ stays in the hospital were the norm, we’ve seen a rapid acceleration over the last nine months to adopt remote, virtual care as the new standard for quality care and market share.

The health systems and hospitals using Force were already leading the charge for virtual care as the new primary care setting -- the pandemic further highlighted how our partners empowered their patients and providers to harness patient engagement technology and stay home when remote, digital care was the only remaining option.

When elective surgeries shut down, organizations had to quickly determine how to remotely coordinate care and ensure patients’ access to them without interruption. We spoke with a number of partners about their virtual workflows and ensuring the same standards of care remotely.

  • Priti Shah, PT, DPT, MBA, Orthopedic Service Line Administrator, Berkshire Medical Center: “Virtual care has played and can continue to play a vital role in value-based care and the pandemic. When [bundles] become more common, it will be a necessity to have effective, efficient tools for patient care besides traditional in-person therapy or follow-ups. A platform like Force allows us to stay connected with patients better and for intervention sooner.”
  • Dr. Jonathan Danoff, TJA Surgeon, Northwell Health: “Being able to remotely monitor patients keeps them from feeling like they’re on their own. You take very close care of the patient immediately after surgery, then at some point, they’re cleared for discharge and we don't see them for weeks. These technologies help us dissipate some patients’ fears, and help them stay in touch with us so they feel that they're not on their own. If we want to do a video chat, we can do that right away through Force. [Force] offers them a more direct line of contact to their team and enhances communication that previously was very difficult.

Our partners also continue to remotely collect and monitor myriad patient data through the Force platform. Without the option for in-person assessment, providers must have real-time access into patient progress and outcomes to ensure continued satisfaction and quality.

  • Dr. Wayne Moschetti, TJA Surgeon, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center:“We have been prospectively collecting PROMs since 2011...this required patients to be present in-clinic or log in through the patient portal. Force’s ability to contact patients via email, text, and telephone has improved our capture of patient data and allows the patients to be in close communication with their care team. The capture rate and patient involvement is quite high, which improves our ability to care for patients and their satisfaction.”
  • Dr. Mark Seeley, Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeon, Geisinger: “During the pandemic, my office shifted to doing less hands-on encounters. Force allows you to track patient progress and gives you objective measures on how a patient is doing. One unexpected benefit that I have found useful for my pediatric patients was PROMIS score reporting for mental health; the ease in which Force collects this data has allowed my staff to assess and get help for patients that are scoring low prior to surgery.”

The shift to ambulatory and same-day discharge pathways was already in motion pre-pandemic, however, the challenges of the last year further validated the consensus for getting patients out of the hospital sooner. Leveraging a technology partner to operationalize an ambulatory program ensures efficiency and efficacy in the long run; Force’s innovative partners are paving the way for other ASCs in the coming years.

  • Dr. Michael Gottsman, TJA Surgeon, Northside Hospital: “Ambulatory joint replacement is what the future holds. The goal is to achieve better and reproducible results, not just to get the patient out the door in a single day. Individual silos of surgeon, anesthesia, and PT is not a model that will have great success. Integrated programs with open communication and data-driven metrics will allow TJA to be done better and safer than ever. Force allows for the merging of data and integration with the broader team to constantly monitor outcomes and look for areas of concern and success in real time.”
  • Smitha Vellanky, Research Coordinator, Connecticut Joint Replacement Institute: “As we move towards outpatient surgeries, Force helps us deliver vital information to the patients, thus increasing the chances of better outcomes. Particularly under the unique pandemic circumstances, Force data on PROs improvement has allowed us to assess whether shorter hospital stays as a result of the pandemic have impacted surgical outcomes. Monitoring this data will allow us to further refine our outpatient procedures to continue delivering high-quality care.”

While vaccines and a return to normalcy are on the horizon, the impacts and learnings from COVID-19 in the orthopedic space will be long-lasting and ingrained in future practices. Force’s partners feel confident that they are better positioned for virtual care than they were at the onset of the pandemic. In tandem, Force continues to work tirelessly with our partners to ensure they are wholly equipped to lead, innovate, analyze, iterate, and provide utmost quality care in a post-COVID world.