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PQA, Tufts awarded AARP patient care grant

BY Gisselle Gaitan

This year’s AARP Quality Measures Innovation Grant has been awarded to Pharmacy Quality Alliance (PQA) and Tufts Medical Center. Each of the companies will receive a grant of $150,000 along with access to OptumLabs’ data assets to develop innovative quality health measures that address important gaps in diabetes and cancer care.

The Pharmacy Quality Alliance in collaboration with the University of Maryland, proposed a patient safety and outcome which measures the frequency of hospital and/or emergency room visits. Specifically, ones that are due to the misfortune of anti-hyperglycemic medications among those with diabetes. This is a measure AARP strongly believes in given the high prevalence of diabetes among mid-life and older adults.

Tufts Medical Center collaborated with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Dana-Farber Cancer institute, to propose a patient safety measuring aiming towards reducing medical errors and care-related injuries, particularly ones among high-risk and vulnerable people. The proposal will identify a group of “trigger” events in the electronic medical record which indicates potential adverse events or medical errors.

AARP and OptumLabs began the Quality Measures Innovation grant program in 2016, which sponsors projects aimed at developing and/or testing health measures to improve patient care.

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Walgreens’ mobile app gets 5-star ranking from users

BY David Salazar

The Walgreens mobile app recently hit a milestone, earning a five-star rating in Apple’s App Store. The Deerfield, Ill.-based company said that the app’s three most popular features among users are prescription refill (including refill-by-scan), photo print ordering and paperless coupons.

Walgreens has built the app out in recent years to offer more than its most popular features. It offers users a store locator, a pill reminder feature and pharmacy chat to ask questions of their pharmacists. It also lets patients upload prescription insurance card information for the pharmacy, schedule appointments at its healthcare clinics and start a live doctor consultation through an integration with telehealth provider MDLive.

The company in June announced that the app was seeing particular interest among older users, with 27% of its users being ages 55 years and older — a group that makes up only about 9% of smartphone ownership. The mobile pharmacy tools, in particular, draw 37% of their user base from those ages 55 years and older.

“One of the things we repeatedly hear is that customers really value their connections with individual pharmacists and staff,” Walgreens divisional VP loyalty Mindy Heintskill said in June. “We wanted to replicate that connection digitally, so customers can get a high-value, personalized experience even when they can’t make it into a store.”

Other features that the company said help bring the store to patients is the ability to access detailed information about in-store products, check store inventory and read user reviews. In addition to photo print ordering — which Walgreens said makes up a large share of its photo processing business — the app also allows users to create custom cards for such occasions as birthdays and holidays.
 

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NYU research: Mobile apps can help diabetes health

BY David Salazar

New Research from the New York University Leonard N. Stern School of Business is highlighting the role that mobile health applications can have on outcomes among patients with diabetes. NYU Stern professor Anindya Ghose and co-authors Beibei Li of Carnegie Mellon University and Citong Guo of the Harbin Institute of Technology found that over 15 months, patients who adopted a Chinese mobile health platform saw a more than 2000% reduction in glucose levels over time, on average.

“By assisting patients with behavior modification and disease self-management, mHealth platforms have tremendous potential for improving health outcomes and reducing medical costs,” Ghose said. “With this research, companies have an opportunity to better understand patients’ interaction with mHealth technology and design elements that will be most effective for patient adoption and engagement.”

Patients in the study showed an average 327% reduction in hospital visits and 799% reduction in medical expenses. The study found that patients saw a 20% greater impact from mobile solutions over web-based ones. It also highlighted that a combination of personalized and general SMS messages can impact patient health. The university noting that generalized guidance texts about diabetes care were 18% more effective than personalized ones at reducing glucose levels over time, while personalized messages were found to be more effective at reducing hospital visits and medical costs.

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