Building the future of hospital care coordination through deep integration

A story of how a fully integrated care coordination and patient engagement platform TaysPolku was taken into use in Tampere University Hospital (Tays). Tampere University Hospital provides demanding specialized care services to nearly one million Finns.

Challenge of lacking carepath visualisation

Many of us have personally experienced the sometimes rather slow and old-fashioned world of healthcare where most of the communication between the patient and healthcare professionals happens via telephone calls, paper forms and snail mail. Prior to TaysPolku, Tays had similar challenges with their care coordination processes. Care coordination was mostly carried out by sending instructions to the patients via traditional mail and calling the patients before appointments to ensure their compliance with, for example, all the pre-operative instructions before an operation. Furthermore, care professionals didn’t have a proper, real-time visualisation over their patients’ carepaths’ progress - inadvertently contributing to procedure cancellations, no-shows, delays and other inefficiencies.

Not to mention, the adoption of mobile health technologies in care coordination was minimal: not a single app was yet built for patients where they could access all of the information about their treatment, receive appointment reminders and have a possibility to connect with healthcare professionals directly.

To solve the inefficiencies in the partially digitised care coordination process, Tays turned to Buddy Healthcare to acquire a fully integrated solution to address these challenges and bring care coordination to the 21st century. Not only was the objective to solve the aforementioned challenges, but also to integrate TaysPolku seamlessly into the most crucial information systems used in the hospital.

Tays’ expectations on the integration project’s success were multiple, as the core point of bringing their care coordination up to date would mean improving efficiency of patient preparation processes & clarifying these processes, which would manifest as:
- reduction of administrative workload (mailing & transferring instructions, patient phone calls)
- anticipation of  problematic patient cases
- reduction of surgery cancellations & late arrivals to the operation
- providing of a direct communication channel with the care personnel
- a proper information provision to a patient with an aim of reducing the patient’s stress & anxiousness over the operation
- open boundaries (meaning independence from additional hardware & systems)
- providing statistical information which supports tracking & monitoring of care processes.

The deep rooted solution

TaysPolku is a care coordination and patient engagement platform for hospitals and patients based on our BuddyCare platform, which helps hospitals to reduce the administrative burden in care coordination as well as improve patient experience and outcomes. The TaysPolku Dashboard allows care professionals to have a real-time view of all patients and their compliance to their carepaths' progressive steps. Hereby, the care professionals can focus their limited resources on those patients needing most guidance on their carepath. The TaysPolku system included an App for patients, providing them all the information they need to know about their treatment: automatic reminders, simple timeline, supporting educational videos and possibility to communicate with the care professionals to keep the patients on track with their carepath.

In the first phase of this project, TaysPolku was integrated to the following hospital systems:

  • #1: Patient portal integration (OmaTays).
    OmaTays is a patient portal for Tays patients where patients can access, for example, personal appointment schedules, one's care related laboratory test requests and in the future see the status of their referrals - all done via web browsers.

    OmaTays integration conducted by Buddy Healthcare enables the patients to take the TaysPolku App into use through their OmaTays portal access. Thus, TaysPolku is a fully integrated part of OmaTays use. The objective of Tays is to direct all patients first to OmaTays, and then from OmaTays to take TaysPolku into use as primary communication channel between the university hospital & a patient.
    A simple button in OmaTays directs the user to Google Play or App Store to download the app.

  • #2: Patient portal single sign-on (SSO) integration.
    Once a patient takes the TaysPolku App into use, no additional login is required in the App. One time verification of a patient's identity is enough, which the patient self-authenticates with one's banking credentials during their first time login to OmaTays patient portal.
    (Note: utilisation of bank account credentials as an identity verification tool is a common method across Finnish businesses that handle highly sensitive data of their customers).

    Following this, once a patient has downloaded TaysPolku app through OmaTays' provided link, he/she can open the app without any other authentications. What is left is setting a PIN code or biometric ID to secure access to their carepath, allowing an easy, safe & secure access to their carepath in the app.

  • #3: Care personnel portal (OmaTays PRO) single sign-on (SSO) integration.
    Tays has a separate side of their internal patient portal for the care personnel called OmaTays PRO.
    The SSO integration between OmaTays PRO & TaysPolku solution enables care professionals to seamlessly move from OmaTays PRO to TaysPolku's dashboard (designed for care personnel) without separate user credentials or logins.
    A simple “go to” button is integrated into OmaTays PRO's digital patient profile which will open the specific patient’s profile in TaysPolku dashboard, showcasing how the patient has progressed in their carepath & allowing an exchange of patient data or interacting with the patient directly.

    This integration utilizes context management, which is lacking from many stand alone programs that are developed for healthcare sector, leading to the multi-platform record logging needs for every clinic's care personnel.

  • #4: Patient status integration.
    The patient and his/her carepath progression has a status based on the phase of the perioperative carepath.
    For example, if a patient has not yet taken the app into use after their profile logging, the patient's status is marked as 'Requested' within TaysPolku's care personnel dashboard, which refers to a request to start to use the app.

    After taking the app into use, status of the patient is updated to 'Active', and the patient is hence fully integrated into remote patient guidance & information exchange. This integration seamlessly updates the correct status of the patient in all relevant systems, as they progress through their perioperative carepath - from fulfilling a required pre-operational medical data form to acknowledging a recovery program's restrictions.

  • #5:“Under the hood” integrations.
    Such as integration adapter connections and other integrations from data transfer point-of-view.


Automation of data flows

In addition to these integrations, TaysPolku is also integrated in following manners:

  • Acting on behalf integration, which is required for the paediatric clinics but is also beneficial for other clinics when TaysPolku app's primary user is a patient’s caregiver instead of a patient. This integration allows the parents or other legal caregivers of the patient to use the app & inform themselves on care related restrictions on behalf of the patient. The caregiver access rights are regularly checked and access to the app ceased if necessary.
    (Note: by the time of writing this article, this integration has been completed).

  • Scheduling system integration, which enables care professionals to only add and change schedules in Tays’s master scheduling system. Once the schedules are changed in this system, the scheduling information is automatically passed to TaysPolku where the schedules are updated.
    (Note: by the time of writing this article, this integration planning is in progress).

  • Questionnaire integration. There are several questionnaires in OmaTays which the patients are asked to fill during their care journey. The questionnaire integration makes the questionnaires appear also in the TaysPolku App where the patient can simply fill in the questionnaires. Once the patient fills the questionnaire in the app, the questionnaire is marked as completed in TaysPolku & in OmaTays.
    (Note: by the time of writing this article, this integration planning is in progress).

  • Carepath instructions' synchronisation integration.
    he objective of this integration is real time synchronisation of all the instructions related to a patients' carepath, which are internally updated by Tays.
    These instructions would be included in the website from where the instructions are linked to the TaysPolku app with the integration. Once the instructions are updated internally, they automatically update in the app as well.
    (Note: by the time of writing this article, this integration planning is in progress).

With all of these crucial integrations, TaysPolku stands as a complete care coordination solution which not only makes care coordination much more efficient but also smoothly transfers data between different systems. This cuts out the need for repetitive double-entry of patient data, reducing the likelihood of human errors. And such a risk reduction has a direct positive impact on patient safety.


Blossoming benefits across multiple clinics

Between May 2021 - September 2021, TaysPolku will be taken into use in 7 medical specialties:

- Gastroenterology (endoscopy and IBD patients)
- Urology (transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) and neuromodulation patients)
- Ear, Nose and Throat (several ENT procedures)
- Neurosurgery (neurostimulator patients)
- Musculoskeletal Diseases (hand surgery, carpal tunnel patients)
- Paediatric Surgery
- Child Psychiatry

At the time of this writing, 3 of the specialties have already started inviting patients to use the TaysPolku app after the first set of integrations. Even though the projects have just recently kicked off and the number of patients is only starting to increase, the first experiences from both the healthcare professionals and patients has been encouraging.
Patients have adopted the app with a high use rate, and healthcare professionals have been able to streamline their processes and save time in preparing patients for procedures and appointments.

Patients have also been able to familiarize themselves with the instructions at their own pace at home through the app. Traditionally patients are flooded with information and instructions during in-person appointments, leading to forgotten or wrongly remembered instructions, but now all the same information is found in the app, which lets the patients digest information little by little. This has already helped decrease the amount of contacts from the patients to the hospital as all the information is available for the patients 24/7 on an easily understandable timeline.


Read more about our customer cases and benefits achieved: