With New Fund, Aurora Looks to Deepen Support for Health Startups

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compliance to care. They were coming in about three times during a pregnancy. [Aurora] wanted to figure out if there’s a way to use technology to increase the number of touch points for those patients, and get them into the clinic more frequently.” The thinking was that more contact between the two sides could lead to detecting issues earlier and ultimately, healthier births among patients in this particular population.

Nicholson says that from November 2016 to May 2017, Babyscripts and Aurora conducted a pilot program at Aurora Sinai Women’s Health Center aimed at getting a group of pregnant patients to attend more of their scheduled prenatal appointments, and supplement those visits with interactions through the startup’s app.

The Babyscripts program includes a mobile app and Internet-connected devices (blood pressure cuff pictured here), delivered in a “Mommy Kit” to expectant moms. Healthcare providers use the Babyscripts dashboard to access patient information and compliance reporting, send updated content in real time, and communicate with patients. Image courtesy of Babyscripts.

Babyscripts worked with physicians, nurses, social workers, and other Aurora employees to help them identify program participants who required care beyond what health systems typically provide during a low-risk pregnancy, Nicholson says. She says patients enrolled in the program came in for more than seven prenatal visits on average, and Aurora also saw a 60 percent decrease in the no-show rate for those prenatal appointments at Aurora Sinai Women’s Health Center. Between in-person visits and interactions over text message or the startup’s app, participants had an average of four touch points per week with their care teams, according to Babyscripts.

“There was definitely some improvement in the care and compliance for the women who were [in] Babyscripts’s program,” Nicholson says, adding that her company and Aurora plan to launch a second phase of the program at the same site in early 2018.

Aurora Sinai Medical Center is also where the health system began implementing technology developed by EmOpti, a startup based in the Milwaukee suburb of Brookfield, in 2015. The company’s tools are aimed at making emergency room wait times and hospital stays shorter by allowing patients to consult with physicians in a remote “command center” using hospital-provided tablet computers and other devices, says Jack Berkery, EmOpti’s VP of sales and marketing.

EmOpti’s approach is to replace the traditional arrival process in the emergency room, where patients meet with a triage nurse in or near the lobby to assess their condition, with a remote “provider-in-triage” model. Having a doctor examine patients just after they arrive could in theory save time because physicians can prescribe medications, order tests, and perform other actions most triage nurses cannot. And by stationing triage physicians offsite, they’re able to assess patients across multiple hospitals.

Berkery says since EmOpti and Aurora began working together two years ago, the health system has put in the startup’s technology at two more of its Wisconsin hospitals, in West Allis and Kenosha.

Paul Coogan, president of emergency services at Aurora, says his organization plans to expand EmOpti’s Aurora footprint by introducing its tools at two to three new hospitals per year. To date, doctors have performed about 50,000 remote consults for Aurora hospitals, he says. On average, a patient’s stay in one of the three emergency rooms is 45 minutes shorter than it was before they began using EmOpti’s technology.

The goal is to shift the provider-in-triage approach from being an experimental model at some hospitals to becoming the “standard of care” across health systems’ entire networks, Berkery says. Since 2015, Aurora has “made the EmOpti technology a part of the standard care process, which has enabled Aurora to sustain the initial improvements in key emergency room quality metrics, including decreases in door-to-provider times, decreases in the number of patients that leave the emergency room … Next Page »

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