Health

The University of Louisville and Kindred Healthcare have announced the creation of HIVE, a partnership to design health technologies aimed at making the aging process a little easier.

The organizations opened HIVE with an official ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday at the former K-I Lumber & Building Materials office building near the Belknap campus.

Raelene Kost works at Kindred, a Louisville-based hospice and home care company. She heads up the company’s Contact Center, which is kind of like a customer service center for patients and caregivers who have questions about insurance, prescriptions or anything else.

“The cool thing about this is you’re pulling in a different set of people that maybe have a different view on what you’re doing,” Kost said.

Engineering students from U of L have already worked on several projects with Kindred.

“We’ve been able to take issues that we hear from the field, whether it’s the therapist going out into the home, that we’ve been able to take those issues and develop a program or product to support that,” Kost said.

Kindred’s nurses were reporting issues with the way they screened potential hospice patients. Through the HIVE partnership, an app was created to help streamline the process.

Hospice is intended to provide care for a patient in the last six months of life with the goal of making the patient comfortable, according to CharlesWardrip, chief information officer at Kindred. That differs from other health care settings, like in a hospital, where treatment is given to prevent death.

Hospice patients also report better pain control, more satisfaction with their care and fewer deaths in the hospital or intensive care units than other people with similarly short life expectancies that don’t go to hospice. That’s according to a study out last year from the medical journal BMJ.

“Many times those who need it don’t understand that they could benefit,” Wardrip said. “Now as they’re out there talking, they can gather info and identify whether the patient would benefit.”

The app from HIVE also helps makes it clearer if Medicare will pay for a potential patient. Medicare pays on average $140 a day for hospice care, which many advocates say isn’t enough. So the possibility of forgoing payment because of a faulty screening system is worth the development of that app.

There’s a laundry list of requirements to qualify for hospice, including having recurrent infections, deteriorating mental ability and progressing weight loss. Kost said it’d take 25 minutes on average to complete the initial evaluation for hospice and the app helps to simplify the process.

“To be able to have a team that can take our odd idea and turn it into an app for a tablet is really what makes it so worth it,” she said.

Disclosure: Susan Moss, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Kindred Healthcare, is a member of LPM’s Board of Directors. 

Lisa Gillespie is WFPL's Health and Innovation Reporter.