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|Member Snapshot- Lauren DePaul|
Lauren DePaul, PharmD, CMTM
Providing Remote Health Care
The Consultant Pharmacist publishes occasional snapshots of members who have interesting practices or businesses or are involved in unusual projects or research. All pharmacists were asked to provide answers to several questions. This was originally published in the August 2017 issue of The Consultant Pharmacist.
Lauren DePaul, PharmD, CMTM, is CEO/founder, Total Health Solutions, a company that integrates technology and health care.
Tell us about yourself and your business/consulting practice
Total Health Solutions, LLC, is a business that my husband and I started about two and a half years ago to provide remote patient monitoring and medication therapy management. I have been practicing pharmacy for 11 years in all different practice settings. Yet despite the area I was practicing in, I always felt there was a crucial piece of the patient story missing—information that held so many answers. My husband has been in the security alarm and surveillance industry for almost 20 years. His goal is somewhat the same: to secure the safety for those who live within that home. Essentially we both are protecting the well-being of human life. With the advancement of smart-home automation, wearable devices, video conferencing, and artificial intelligence, we are able to integrate a patient’s home into his or her care plan. A safe and secure environment is crucial for the healing process and for any health care treatment plan to be a success. We are able to make early interventions and adjust a treatment plan or care level prior to a major health incident. We offer 24/7 access to a health care professional and provide caregivers a support system with alert messaging, video insight, and two-way communication to be used if an emergency were to occur. We manage medications within the patient’s home and through video conferencing.
What have the highlights and challenges been over the years?
Our business is cash-based, and though we have found clients willing to pay for our services, it limits our patient pool based on financial means. Our services are ideal for, and have been successful in, those patients who choose to remain independent within their homes as long as possible and caregivers seeking a support system that functions with everyday living. We collect health care data and transmit it to physicians and caregivers for an accurate understanding of a patient’s condition. We also routinely visit patients’ homes and doctors’ offices. Having insurance companies recognize the value we provide has been challenging to date, but not impossible. For example, Medicare currently covers the basic personal emergency response system, which is one of the earliest forms of in-home remote monitoring for fall injuries. With managed care organizations actively seeking new ways to ensure the delivery of quality care, our services are beginning to being recognized as a means to do so.
Some highlights over the past couple of years have been actually witnessing how much of an impact we made on our customers’ lives. When we are able to implement simple solutions that not only provide data, on a patient's disease and the level of care needed, but also improve the quality of a patient’s environment and offer a support system to caregivers—it’s priceless for everyone. When people realize the potential, it’s life-altering.
What advice can you offer other consultant pharmacists?
Think outside the box. Dare to be different. This model of ours all started because I regularly lose my keys, so much so that my husband put a sensor on them that connects to our home automation. So instead of panicking when I can’t find them, I simply press a button and listen for them. We took this scenario and applied the concept to different disease states and barriers to safely aging at home. Be persistent and have passion: Passion and emotion sell your business.
What are your hopes for the future of your practice?
As health care continues to evolve, monitoring between doctor visits becomes vital, so if any intervention is needed, it can be made before a catastrophic event occurs. Technology and medicine are advancing at the speed of light, so it’s imperative that pharmacists and health care professionals provide a foundation to build on as society embraces basic technology. We may not be able to teach an 87-year-old patient with dementia how to operate an iPad or mobile application, but we do have the capability to get the same data that an iPad would give through discreet home automation. Having this technology covered by insurance like Medicare, Medicare supplemental, and long-term care insurance is crucial for advancing how we handle aging-in-place and other senior environments.
Consult Pharm 2017;32:488-90.