Q&A: How VNA Health Group Coordinates Home Health and Hospice

August 4, 2016


Dr. Sharma VNA Health GroupDr. Vikranta Sharma is VNA Health Group’s hospice and palliative care medical director. In her role, Dr. Sharma is responsible for a lot. She spearheads care planning, staff education, attending physician coordination, quality assurance and home health to hospice bridging. The last-mentioned aspect of her role, home health to hospice bridging, entails educating and increasing awareness about palliative and hospice care among physicians, nurses, patients and families.

A passionate advocate of hospice care, Dr. Sharma says:


“It’s vital that patients and their loved ones are aware and educated about this extra layer of support when dealing with a serious illness because it can provide tremendous comfort and relief from unnecessary interventions.”

“It’s vital that patients and their loved ones are aware and educated about this extra layer of support when dealing with a serious illness because it can provide tremendous comfort and relief from unnecessary interventions.”

vna-health-group-85113966As a leader in the palliative care arena, Dr. Sharma embraces healthcare technology—she’s an enthusiastic Medalogix Bridge user. We had the pleasure of chatting with her about healthcare technology, her views on healthcare’s current state, end-of-life care discussions and more. Here’s what she had to say:

Q: Well first, you recently spoke at a VNA internal meeting about how hospice and palliative care medical directors and home health primary care physicians (PCPs) can work together to ensure appropriate patients are aware of their end-of-life care options. Can you tell us about that?

A: Well, as a hospice and palliative care medical director, I find it helpful to pick up the phone and have a conversation with the participating team including the physicians involved. I realize they have a lot on their plates and their focus is on curative interventions. When we can come together and have a conversation about a patient, we can bring both of our perspectives to the table and help ensure the right patients hear about their options at the right time.

Further, if the patient is appropriate for hospice, I’ll offer to have the end-of-life care discussion with the patient and family. Oftentimes, PCPs aren’t as comfortable with this conversation as a hospice care provider. If I can take this sometimes-difficult conversation off the PCPs plate, I help the PCP and the patient.

Q: Being in healthcare for years, what are your thoughts on healthcare technology?

A: Technology has its place. I’ve interacted with technologies that are just technologies for technology sake. The technology may be intelligent, but not user friendly. Ideal technology is one that is intelligent, user friendly and adaptable to individual needs. It also needs to be cost effective and save valuable human time and labor. If you want to really raise the bar in patient care though, you need to embrace technology. You can’t stay away from it. We’ve embraced intelligent technology like Medalogix at VNA and we are going to be more prepared for the future because of it.

Q: Clinicians already have their hands full doing what they do best—caring for patients. How do you encourage clinicians to use technology?

A: Well first, you have to know it’s technology that’s better serving the patient. If clinicians can realize the patient benefit, they’ll be more inclined to use it. Second, if it’s good technology, it won’t get in the way of the clinician caring for the patient—it will only help save time and provide better care. Overall though, if those in leadership positions are embracing the technology, other clinicians will too.

Q: What does analytics bring to the table in patient care—end-of-life care specifically?

A: Instead of having someone take hours to pull the data from charts and Excel sheets, Medalogix Bridge has a risk stratification that gives you the top percent of patients who would most benefit from hospice care. It’s so helpful because the appropriate patients are highlighted for you. From there you can research that patient’s medical record further and then offer him or her the right services at the right time. I’m fascinated with how the system runs. And am very excited to use it.

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