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Oakland firm Qualaris Healthcare’s software saves time in hospitals | TribLIVE.com
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Oakland firm Qualaris Healthcare’s software saves time in hospitals

Tribune-Review
| Monday, March 2, 2015 10:42 p.m
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Sidney Davis | Trib Total Media
Darci Robertson, in-patient services manager at Washington Hospital, demonstrates how the software developed by Qualaris Healthcare Solutions' software works on Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015.
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Sidney Davis | Trib Total Media
Washington Hospital in-patient services managers (from left) Toni Behanna, Darci Robertson and Jane Lucas show software developed by Oakland company Qualaris Healthcare Solutions on Wednesday Jan. 28, 2015. The software, which runs on tablet computers, is used to automate the auditing of a variety of processes at hospitals.
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Sidney Davis | Trib Total Media
“We found there’s a whole set of manual stuff going on (in hospitals) that could benefit from some sophisticated processes,” said Qualaris CEO James Wolfe.

Washington Health System is improving its compliance with a number of quality measures, such as making sure medical staff wash hands regularly and provide follow-up calls to patients who have been discharged.

The difference is a software application made by Qualaris Healthcare Solutions Inc. in Oakland. The app automates what had been a time-consuming process that required managers to record compliance on paper charts, enter data into computer spreadsheets and generate graphs and reports, said Karen Bray, vice president of patient care services at Washington Health.

“We found there’s a whole set of manual stuff going on (in hospitals) that could benefit from some sophisticated processes,” said Qualaris CEO James Wolfe, who hopes to persuade the hospitals to pay for additional tools. The app includes more than 100. “Our tool can grow with the customer.”

Qualaris, founded in 2011, is taking advantage of a drive by the government to reduce infections and readmissions at hospitals, pushing medical centers to better track quality standards. The government has started to penalize hospitals by cutting Medicare reimbursement rates if infections and readmissions aren’t reduced.

The company recently signed a deal to provide the app to 40 members of the Hospital Council of Western Pennsylvania, a Warrendale nonprofit that advocates for most of the hospitals and health systems in the region. Tools to track compliance in hand-washing or fall prevention are being offered for free as part of Qualaris’ deal with the council.

Washington Health began using the app about two years ago. It runs on a tablet and automatically generates reports as information is entered during audits, Bray said. The system allows managers to get instant feedback from audits on how workers are performing, Bray said. Previously, they would wait for quarterly reports, she said, making it difficult to correct problems.

“By the time a quarter passes, it’s gone, you’re on to new issues,” Bray said. “It’s really nice to have real-time data.”

Jane Montgomery, vice president of clinical & quality services for the Hospital Council, said hospitals using Qualaris are noting improvements in getting staff to follow standards for proper hand washing and preventing falls.

It works, she said, because it gives hospitals “actionable information right there so they know where they’re failing.”

Plus, it frees up time for managers that was spent entering data and generating reports, she said. “Now, instead of having a person in an office entering all that data, that person can be out doing real work.”

Wolfe and his team of 10 employees are building on their experience with the Hospital Council to market Qualaris to similar health care trade groups around the country. “That’s our biggest opportunity,” Wolfe said.

He declined to provide revenue and growth figures for the company. It was awarded $50,000 from Carnegie Mellon University’s Open Field Entrepreneurs Fund in 2012; $188,750 in funding from Innovation Works since 2013; and undisclosed financing from angel investors.

At Washington Health, Bray said the system has focused on making sure staff places follow-up calls with patients who have been discharged within 48 hours. The calls are used to ensure that patients have scheduled appointments with their doctors and are taking their medications.

When the system started using Qualaris to audit calls in April, only about 60 percent were made within 48 hours, Bray said. By December, the rate had improved to 81 percent.

“That’s still not where we want to be, but it’s still a good trend,” she said.

Alex Nixon is a Trib Total Media staff writer.

Categories: Local stories
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