In light of the current pandemic, it’s not surprising that the topic of healthcare is at the forefront of everyone’s minds. Now more than ever, we have seen how vital having a quality healthcare system in place is and how critical proper communication within that healthcare system is for it to continue flowing smoothly. It helps provide us with the healthcare we can count on.
Enter Halo Health. Co-founded in 2010 by Dr. Jose Barreau and Dr. Amit Gupta, Halo exists to help provide that proper communication in the healthcare arena. I was instantly intrigued when I heard about Halo Health, and now that they are apart of Refinery Ventures. I sat down with Dr. Barreau to discuss Halo a bit more, specifically how it helps keep us healthy by providing the healthcare network with healthy communication within the system.
The catalyst for the creation of Halo came from an instance that is all too familiar for many of us patients: the inability to get the correct information to all of the medical professionals who are taking care of you. But when you’re a doctor, trying to get information that can affect life and death decisions, it can be insanely frustrating not to have the most up-to-date information. After continuously experiencing this situation himself, Dr. Barreau knew he had to do something to solve these internal communication problems so all healthcare professionals, as a team, could provide better patient care in and out of the hospital setting.
The main issue Dr. Barreau knew needed tackling was how to ensure that the proper information gets to the right people across all hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities, pharmacies, etc. Another major issue needing to be addressed, according to Dr. Barreau, was the continuum of care. Halo aims to seamlessly integrate the hospital and the community (those people caring for the patients on the outside).
In any communication, order and proper management are essential, especially in chaotic environments. I asked Dr. Barreau how Halo helps medical professionals battle the chaos that can consume their day-to-day operations. He explained that Halo simplifies things, eliminating the clutter by providing one single platform where they receive all real-time information. Also, aiding the healthcare experts is the fact that Halo’s platform complements all electronic health records, systems, and medical devices. This makes it one unified communications system that can be integrated into all records, nurse call systems, billing, etc.
So how—and precisely where— does Halo to increase quality inpatient care? Among many examples he provided, a few I’ll mention here include improved communication across multiple care facilities and integration with the current systems that hospitals use, ensuring that everyone who needs to be in the loop is provided with the correct information. And that information is always in real-time, meaning that high priority, urgent, or emergent events are then able to be prioritized. That means that alert fatigue, which often plagues doctors and nurses, is reduced. Halo prioritizes the information in the three categories from above so that any interruption to health care professionals when dealing with patients is of the utmost importance.
What dangerous “symptoms” in a hospital does Halo help “cure”? Halo can cure many things currently ailing the hospitals. These include the alert fatigue mentioned above (as it knows the right people to send information to, at the right time), the common malady of miscommunication (via accurate staff directories and on-point scheduling), and countless other malaise (frustration, poor job, and patient satisfaction, and the sickness of committing common avoidable errors).
I asked him about buy-in, mainly why it is so vital in telemedicine. According to Dr. Barreau, the pluses make it a no-brainer, among which include the platform being 100% cloud-based, requiring minimal effort from hospital IT, the product being incredibly user-friendly for medical professionals to navigate (and master), and my personal favorite, the fact that Halo makes full remote implementation possible.
One of Halo’s fascinating features is its role-based communication, which helps improve the coordination of medical professionals by communicating the right information to the role (doctor’s title/station) versus the person. This is vital since roles and doctors frequently change around a patient (with some cases involving 15 roles, 50+ doctors, and nurses—all on rotations—for a standard three-day stay). By incorporating role-based communication, Halo seamlessly navigates various staff shift changes, different doctors on-call, and different people administering the services. It allows for patient care to be more efficient and effective.
I asked Dr. Barreau what the pandemic has taught us about telemedicine. He explained how these difficult times have revealed telemedicine’s ability to expand the availability of—and access to—care in difficult times. And as the pandemic has highlighted the fragmented nature of communication in hospitals more than ever, telemedicine has been able to meet that need for more seamless communication. Coordination of research and response teams to battle COVID was also made possible thanks to telemedicine, among many other things.
But even though telemedicine has helped in this crisis, there is still room for improvement to prepare for our next health crisis. Dr. Barreau explained how we could have been better prepared, and he shared this following list of things that would benefit the public and healthcare providers greatly—all of which Halo can help accomplish:
· Better protection of the higher risk population—put out clear guidelines for who is a high risk, where they are, and inform them what protection they need to put in place immediately.
o This is accomplished by Patient Halo, which can send out a Halo Blast to patients, a mass notification on important pandemic information.
· Improve how health systems communicate with their patient population. Currently, less than 5% of health care systems have an effective communication portal with the patient population.
· Health systems need to be a source of education and much more proactive versus reactive
Finally, I asked Dr. Barreau what he sees coming next for Halo. He shared that Halo will continue being healthcare pioneers, boldly continuing to lead the way in showing how beneficial collaboration is for patient care.