How Health Informatics Helps Caregivers Manage Care

Kayleigh Gordon
Kayleigh Gordon

Kayleigh Gordon talks about how health informatics can help caregivers better manage care.

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Podcast Transcript

May 18, 2023
Note: This transcript was computer generated and might contain errors.

Kayleigh Gordon: Yeah, definitely well, thanks for having me. My name is Kayleigh Gordon. I was born a Canadian. I was born in Toronto, but actually grew up in the Midwest, Midwestern part of the country in the US. I spent most of my childhood in North Dakota and beautiful part of the country there and then I later moved my family moved to the upstate New York area. So I've kind of I've been around the US quite a bit and I grew up around healthcare Both, my parents are health care providers and I have a number of family members and in and around the house or space and healthcare profession and but it actually wasn't until I was 17. I had my own experience with the healthcare system that I really started to pay attention a little bit more and and decided that I really wanted to

Kayleigh Gordon:  On a nurse because nurses that I've had, when I was a patient and really made an impact on me, so I went to nursing school and absolutely loved that I, you know, child all different kinds of jobs in the healthcare space when I was, and a nursing student. I worked in long-term care. I worked in community care, and public health. And eventually got a job working for a hospital that was implementing. Some of the meaningful use criteria, the Affordable Care Act. And so taking on a small hospital, a small community-based hospital that was primarily paper-based. And moving to a fully electronic system, I thought was actually captivating, I thought they were kind of limitless opportunities at the time for what we could do. If we were able to get to ties patient records and really help information.

Kayleigh Gordon:  So being a bit of an academic myself, I immediately went back into the Masters in nursing science and and they're really, although, you know, it's a fantastic program. It was not as not as focused on the digital aspect of the industry as I would have have. So I jumped over and ended up doing a PhD in health information under the AT the Institute of Health Policy Management, Evaluation at UFT and I was really able to thank my teeth into help data and healthcare industry and and then my dissertation ended up focusing on mobile mobile applications or implementation and into different models of care and for different kind of more big, patient groups. So I've kind of, I've had a really I think awesome experience today but

Kayleigh Gordon:  Variants. Make a female excited about health data and the opportunities for patients there.

Katie Wilkinson: Yeah, that's awesome. And such an interesting, like journey you've been on and now you're at vital. Can you talk a little bit about, you know what this company does and how you got connected there? And and you know what? Yeah, just everything about vital, everything. We might need to know for this conversation, that's important.

Kayleigh Gordon:  Yeah, yeah, so for sure. So I think one of the problems that I identified very quickly

Kayleigh Gordon:  Even through kind of the mid, 2010s was despite the fact that electronic medical records were becoming increasingly prevalent. I mean, even today we still, you know, it's still not We're not completely there yet. In terms of digitization of health information, current health information but also I would say historical health information that's important. But the problem that I saw in a clinical context, as a nurse was that the, you know, anyone's health information, or health data is still everywhere? And why is it that it is so challenging to be able to pull it together? You know, everyone has, you know, a family doctor or maybe they've had a few in their lifetime. Many people have specialists many people, go to different hospitals, but it just it seems absolutely

Kayleigh Gordon:  Just a problem that we, that we should be able to solve, especially, you know, in 2023 and and other time when we started vital, it was 2017-2018. So we were, you know, even weren't, you know, we were, we thought we were there, but we definitely weren't. And, and some of those problems I saw every day as a nurse and, and, you know, one particular


Kayleigh Gordon:  situation was, you know, related to a transplant, patient, who was concerned that their transplant was being rejected and we were looking for lab results that had been taken, you know, within, you know, at another hospital. But within a short distance away and despite the fact that they had been taken there recently, I couldn't get access to them. And, and that, you know, from a clinical perspective wouldn't have made a difference necessarily because we could just redraw the labs. But from a patient perspective, you know, if you're a patient that is very concerned about something that's going on with your health, that, you know, time is is so important and can be such a stress if you're waiting to hear and you know what, what a result might be or what that might mean for you and your care journey and so I you know, that's really where vital started. So, you know, we together started this company and our goal.

Kayleigh Gordon:  Was really to create a medical records management company that would support individuals and it would support families with access to the health information than they needed. And and our goal would be that that health information would be meaningful. So I guess that's kind of where it started night shifts on and you know as a nurse I would say, You know, there's a night there's generally less resources in terms of humans around to help and so when you're really looking for something that you need and you can't get it. There's an opportunity there and so that's that's kind of where Vital started.

How health informatics tech can help family caregivers manage the care of their loved ones

Katie Wilkinson: Yeah, I love that and hoping you can dive in a little bit more into like what health informatics is. And then how Healthinformatics technologies can help family caregivers in managing the care of their loved ones.

Kayleigh Gordon:  Yeah. So health informatics is really kind of an area of health. Information. Yeah, you know there's different roles health informaticians that really study health information but it's just that that whole The entire space is, How do we acquire it? How do we study it? How do we make it meaningful and How do we manage that data going forward? And and then, you know, there's there's all the the clinical implications on health information, how we make decisions decision, making support decisions, support, tools, and algorithms, and, and so that that's what, that's what health information is. And then at your second question, I messed up there.

Katie Wilkinson: Now, all good. I, I guess, you know, knowing that then what health information is, how can family caregivers use health information technologies, like vital in managing, you know, care for their loved one.

Kayleigh Gordon:  Yeah. So I would say that the problem is is individuals and family caregivers are probably the most knowledgeable individuals about what's happened in their, You know, their history, but what's currently ongoing? Yes. There's, you know, clinical decisions that are made by providers or by teams and providers and specialists. But the individuals are know themselves best. And when they don't have access to the information that they need and we're really missing a key piece of the story that could. Potentially make our decision making faster more efficient and and you know hopefully the outcomes are improved after that. So I think that the

Kayleigh Gordon:  the way that family caregivers can get more involved is by having those tools and to vital is, you know, I would say a tool that would facilitate that there are other tools and such as you know, wearables, you know, at home, smart medical devices, blood pressure, crops digital hermometers things that you know would devices that would be able to share data with the provider. But again, the problem really is is that there's no one place where

Kayleigh Gordon:  An individual or family, caregiver or even a provider can capture all this data to be able to see it as one, you know, health story, and health journey. And, and that's there's there's a, You know, a number of reasons for that. But, you know, in an ideal world, they would, you know, we would be able to have to have everything that we need and we are, you know, our providers would have that, but there's lots of the reasons why and, you know, some of those are regulatory. And, you know, there's lots of state privacy laws that make it that make information sharing across states difficult and and, you know, patients and family careers may or may not be aware of that. You know, there's often states there's states. And and, you know, that's just the regulatory side of it, you know, if you know there's other factors, like if you don't have a family doctor or finding one is extremely difficult, thoughts and other. And, you know, reason why they, you know,


Kayleigh Gordon:  Compiling, this is difficult so and Yeah, you and you know, in addition to everyone is busier than ever, you know, there's you know, shortages in all professions and healthcare is is no different. So,

Katie Wilkinson: yeah, I mean I guess a follow-up question that that then is you know this is what vitals working to solve a little bit is to helping is to help get you know all of your information in one place you can tell when one story to Caregivers and to health care providers, etc. And I guess my question…

Kayleigh Gordon:  Yeah.

What type of data does VITALL acquire, and how?

Katie Wilkinson: then is like, what information and what data is vital collecting and how are they, How are you guys able to do that?

Kayleigh Gordon:  Yeah.

Katie Wilkinson: Like, How are you able to get, you know, with all the things you've just listed for reasons that we can't get our records in one place? How is able to to make that possible?

Kayleigh Gordon:  So we and the short, you know, answer is there's many ways but that we've kind of created to do that and kind of our systems really. Are automated to take in all types of data and it all formats. And that's been a, You know, a struggle in the industry for a very long time. I think, you know, the types of information that vital would take in encompasses your traditional medical record, You know, your appointments, your serger, your serger, surgical reports, procedure reports, you know, lab data, vital signs and you know family history that sort of thing but there's also, you know, aspects of vital that that

Kayleigh Gordon:  There are also aspects of vital in terms of its data that sit outside the, like I said, that traditional medical record. So things like device data, wearable data, you know, a significant portion as a population would now wears a smart device on their wrist that takes in data, every, at every moment of the day and, you know, it's it's one thing to kind of look at, you know, look at that specific app on your phone. But if you know, if we're capturing that much data about our health and a better wellness, how come that isn't part of our medical information? Our medical record. Isn't that a valuable?

Kayleigh Gordon:  Excuse me, a valuable turn and to you, sorry, excuse me a valuable tool that we can use in addition and and there's all other aspects, you know, what happens to our our physiotherapy records. What happens to our dental records are, you know, Optometry records, how come we can't put this all together. So, that individuals really have a comprehensive place to to see everything. You know, not only the historical data, but the real-time data as well and that's what vital is. That's what our, you know, our goal and our mission is to is to really do both for patients and and their caregivers but also for the providers as well. And you know anything when they choose to use them.

Katie Wilkinson: So if I'm signing up for vital, what does that look like by way of like linking everything like How do you guys get the information of my providers to get my records? How do I link my You know, smart watch or whatever? Like how does all this information end up in in vital?

Kayleigh Gordon: Yeah. So in terms of the the process we have, what's called a guided registration process. And and what that kind of looks like is, you know, we create a membership account for the individual, or for their caregiver and maybe that's something we can talk about in a minute but there is a difference there if you know the the context provides but we have a fairly

Kayleigh Gordon:  In-depth consent process that we go to again based on who is signing up or for being and then we get we, you know, we collect and kind of a basic medical history data set and that data set allows us to go out and automatically or in an automated way collect data from various sources and diverse sources. Now, as I mentioned that, you know, the industry isn't 100% digital or electronics. So there are, you know, gaps at that point that we, that our system can recognize and that enables us to go out and and capture additional data sets in whatever form. They may be, you know, up to, you know, the box of medical records that you have stored in your basement somewhere or, you know, they're

Kayleigh Gordon:  You know, their data isn't necessarily just stored in, you know, and you know, an XML file or a PDF file, but it can be stored in. Just free text notes somewhere too. So, we want to be able to take that unstructured data in whatever formatted comes and structure it. So that again, the record can be displayed in a way that makes sense, that is clear from from a provider perspective but also from a patient perspective and and it really tells that clinical story and shows that health timeline from from as early as we can find it to you know the current current date and beyond

How to turn unstructured data into structured data


Katie Wilkinson: Yeah. I mean you just said something interesting about taking unstructured data like the, you know, when you have a doctor's appointment you say a bunch of stuff and they take notes on it but it's not, you know, like your birthday and your weight like they're not structured. How are you able to take I guess how does vital like display that information, How are your systems taking unstructured data and turning it into like, you know, a into information that can be consistent across the board, you know, when you're getting records from everywhere,

Kayleigh Gordon: Yes. Yes. We have our own machine learning algorithm where we're able to do that, and, you know, provide insights and I should point out that vital doesn't change any of the information, you know. And you know, we we are able to capture and we do capture all the time errors in medical records and, you know, even, you know, we've, we've had our s*** for, sure of experiences where we are sent records that are, you know, that are incorrect. And so we identify kind of

Kayleigh Gordon:  Those and that wouldn't be something that would be shared. But in terms of the validity of the data, it's it's it is in its original format, just displayed in a way that makes that would make more sense with the story that would be understandable to a lay person and a provider and and making sure that it's accurate and up to date as possible.

What are the privacy implications?

Katie Wilkinson: Yeah, that's awesome. I mean that's so exciting. What you guys have built and are making possible for people. And I think a question that probably comes up for a lot of people sort of immediately following this idea of you guys going out and like, collecting their data and putting in one place is just around privacy.

Kayleigh Gordon: Yeah.

Katie Wilkinson: Can you talk a little bit about the privacy implications and and like, you know how vital make sure that information is secure?

Kayleigh Gordon:  Yeah, for sure. So I I from my perspective, you know, coming from a clinical background and being a nurse proxy and and security of health information as paramount. And that's something that we have embedded in the company from the beginning. And, you know, I fully recognize that trust is something that is not given lightly and lost easily. So that's why it is so important for our company and provide all, you know, it's a core one of our four core values. So, in terms of that we're fully HIPAA compliant, you know, we meet all of the requirements that any hospital doctors office would would be required to do, and even more. So, and I would say that that, you know, from our perspective was was important. It's, you know, it's certainly a significant undertaking, you know, especially for a small startup. That's something that, you know, is without

Kayleigh Gordon:  Student something we had to do from the beginning. So and you know, hopefully that that is something that sets us out, you know, set this apart from others, but absolutely top prairie.

How would a caregiver access VITALL? 

Katie Wilkinson: Yeah, that's awesome. So we talked a little bit about how like a patient might sign up for vital. Can you talk also about you know How does a caregiver access vital? What kind of tech capabilities they need to have? Like is it hard to get in there? And and is there any difference between a patient signing up? Or caregiver signing up or you know if you can allow your caregiver, access your account just how does that work?

Kayleigh Gordon: Yeah, absolutely. So um yes or two I think all of those scenarios in this case. So we have kind of a multi account management, a functionality embedded, that allows not only the individual, but they're several of care to access and using the appropriate individual user permissions or the substitute decision maker capability or permissions you know if that's the case. And we so to kind of elaborate that on that a little bit more let's say that there's a caregiver who's caring for an individual who's not very tech technically capable

Kayleigh Gordon:  You know, the caregiver could utilize or have vital on behalf of the person, their caregiving for and they are the primary user of the account. And of course, you have to have the proper permissions and consent for that. But that's embedded in our kind of onboarding process. And let's say, the individual is, you know, somewhat tech savvy or fairly tech savvy. They could also use the use, the Bible and have a health content as an individual and then add any number of people as caregivers to their account. It also works in a scenario where you're talking about a parent of a minor dependent child or let's say, a non-minor dependent at adult. Those scenarios are allowed in vital, you know, I would say that it, it always starts with the individual. However, if you care, you know, at the individual is unable or let's say, you know, doesn't apply to all seniors, but some seniors who have less technology exper.


Kayleigh Gordon:  There and as familiar that, you know, there's scenarios that would work for them. And you know we have a, you know, a portion of our client base or in the category of individuals who are caring for elderly parents and they, you know, use vital to be able to manage their, you know, one or two parents health information, whether they're whether they live close by or whether they're at a distance. That's where some of that you know self-classed or remote monitoring devices come in and they come in that, you know, they're helpful and not in those scenarios because they provide the, you know, daily real-time data updates and that can then be provided to provide it back to the person who's caregiving

How do health informatics tools help family caregivers to better communicate with healthcare providers and coordinate care for their loved ones?

Katie Wilkinson: Yeah, that's that's awesome that you can link other people to your account and there's so many options there to sort of tailor it to your specific scenario. And I'd love to know, you know, can you share vital with your provider and and can you talk maybe the elaborate on that a little bit around, you know, how information health information tools like vital help. You know. In providing care between providers and family, caregivers and the patient themselves. How does this sort of facilitate, the care process?

Kayleigh Gordon: Yeah, so vital can really be shared with providers in two ways. The first is any individual, could add a provider as a caregiver to their account in which they would see everything at the individual seats. But we're also, you know, just going through the process of enabling, you know, provider specific portal or provider access in, you know, in the backing so different view and that's to enable providers who have multiple patients using vital. And and the reason they would do that is that vital is not, you know, an electronic medical record in the sense that it's not. It is not something that providers use to.

Kayleigh Gordon:  Documents or provide care through. So vital sits alongside and electronic medical record. It's it's not tethered to any individual position or or provider. System and and that is on purpose. And and because the view of the view that a provider would look at, or what, how a provider would document is a little bit different than how occasion our caregiver might want to see the information, but at the end of the day, we want vital to have all of the information. Just be to be displayed and organized in a way that is and and unique to the individuals, but also makes sense. In terms of their, their health journey and their health story.

What are some of the latest developments in health informatics that family caregivers should be aware of? 

Katie Wilkinson: And then I I'm sort of just curious in in general, you know, where like what other advancements are happening in the health information world. And where do you see like health information technologies? Like vital sort of headed like, What's the future for technologies like this? And I ask specifically our audience is, You know, primarily family, caregivers like you know, what can they expect in the future for this to be a tool? A continuing tool to help them care for their person.

Kayleigh Gordon: Absolutely. So I am, you know, in terms of caregivers and caregiving data is extremely powerful, but it's only powerful if it's meaningful to the individual. In a sense that That kind of saying, in the industry is garbage and as garbage out. And so we have to make sure with the advancing technology right now, there's a lot of discussion around machine learning, and AI, and AI generated results and that sort of thing. And although, that is significant, AI is not a person. And I think that that we're vital is that it's part, is we have a technology.

Kayleigh Gordon:  Offering a technology application with a human component on it. And I think and I think a lot of people wouldn't, you know, hopefully agree with me that I think it's not just about the technology. It is about the human experience and the human input on the technology, and that's something that we aren't. We haven't yet, come to training technology to understand or to act like a human. They may seem like, they act like a human, but it's very surface level. And so, I think, you know, we have a lot of work to do in that area in the future and and company is like vital just, you know, a general, you know, generally being a technology company, we're required to grow all the time because, you know, the information changes on a daily basis. And I think it's important that families and and families that are caregiving have access to that information. And when in a way that becomes part of their daily life just as you know, cell phones,


Kayleigh Gordon:  Have an instant messaging and texting, you know, that these these are becoming embedded in our daily life and I would really like to see health information Become something that is You know, I'm a forefront of people's minds, you know, as much as checking your phone every day, you know, you know what? You know, what do I, what am I doing today? To better myself or to improve my, my situation? My, you know, what can I do to support my care and condition that I'm going through at the moment or experiencing or the chronic condition as a progresses? Let's say There's all, you know, there's a lot of opportunities here for information. And I think that patients and caregivers are maybe aren't necessarily topping into the potential of information in their life in this space, quite yet.

Katie Wilkinson: Yeah, I mean it's exciting about all the sort of possibility that's ahead for vital and and the health information space. And is there anything else that we've missed about?

Kayleigh Gordon: Yeah.

Katie Wilkinson: Vital like anything that I haven't asked that you think is important to know about the technology or that would be useful to caregivers.

Kayleigh Gordon:  You know, I think the only thing I would say is the, you know, they're kind of an area that that we we like to focus on is really.

Kayleigh Gordon:  Medical readiness, you know, for those that don't, you know, or maybe not have a, they don't necessarily have an active medical condition or they may not be actively caring for the moment. I think it's important that everyone kind of look at, look at themselves and in their life and think about how they could be ready for an emergency and it's very hard. You know, many people unfortunately have an experience like mine where you you know when I you know, when I, when I had my medical event, I did not, you know, I wasn't prepared. I didn't have the information that I, that I needed. And so I think that and vital, you know, is an opportunity to give us more more power in those moments of uncertainty and you're something like that vital from, you know, something that provides health information or information that's critical in a moment of extreme stress. And so, I think that that's something that

Kayleigh Gordon:  Know, is important to kind of just think about, you know, for all of your listeners and, you know, prepare for it and hope that it doesn't happen to you or to someone that, you know, love. But that and that, that you are ready. If it does to be to be that person to step in or to be supported by the people around you.

Katie Wilkinson: Do you have any? And this is something I think about often, I think we talk a lot about in this space. Like a lot of caregivers Actually are like getting more prepared for their future because they've seen what might happen. But if you aren't a caregiver or something hasn't happened to you medically you it's like you know you're not thinking about you're just right here and I guess,…

Kayleigh Gordon: Yeah.

Katie Wilkinson: you know, in your experience as a nurse at vital like Is there anything that you've seen that can be helpful to people that haven't had their own sort of crisis Moment, haven't been in a caregiving situation with the people that are outside of that. That you know, I think what you're saying is like, it'd be really helpful. If you were ready for those moments, how do we get those people to Like care about, you know, medical readiness.

Kayleigh Gordon:  Yeah, you know, I I think it's easy, it's very difficult to kind of, you know, because people are busy, they're not necessarily thinking about a worst case scenario. Um, but what I would say is, you know, everybody gets sick, you get a common cold, you get the flu and and, you know, I think after this winter, many people probably experienced them version of the common cold or flu this winter. It was particularly bad and being thick is miserable. Um, you know, I think if you can kind of relate to that moment or that feeling and you know, think about, you know, the last time that you were on maybe prior to that whether it was antibiotics or or something like that, if you can remember the name of the antibiotic, the dose of who you know, medication that you got, who gave it to you, where you got it, you know, we very quickly forget these details that you know could make a difference in the future because if again,


Kayleigh Gordon:  You know, duty the same thing, should you not have that medication? Because, you know, maybe you had a bit of a reaction afterwards or you thought you did, you know, these kind of nuanced details are so important and they really get lost so quickly because our life moves on, you know as everyone's does but just you know things like that could can make the difference later on and it's it's a preventative and all right you know an anticipatory I guess approach to to life and you know hoping to kind of think about that a bit more

Katie Wilkinson: Yeah sorry I threw that one at you but I just think it's so interesting because I don't know…

Kayleigh Gordon:  Yeah.

Katie Wilkinson: if there is like unanswered but I think about it a lot just being in this space about how do we you know in like in general…

Kayleigh Gordon:  Yeah.

Katie Wilkinson: how can someone start caring before their Before it's an emergency before it's a crisis. So thank you for hypothesizing out loud with me.

Kayleigh Gordon:  No problem.

Katie Wilkinson:  Um, Well, we like to wrap up all these conversations by asking just you know, what is your top tip for family? Caregivers and, you know, maybe through the lens of health information and vital but would love to hear yours.

Kayleigh’s top tip for family caregivers

Kayleigh Gordon:  Yeah, so I thought about this quite a bit because I know we talked about this but you know I think and it it's a bit too full. But it always, I would say always remember and that as a family caregiver, you know, you're in a position to make an absolutely gigantic difference as an advocate for your, you know, your loved one or the person that you're caring for and and, you know, you have information as I kind of alluded to. That is so important to share and can really make a difference in the care experience, but also in the relationship building between, you know, the individual and their provider and their, their care team. And then that really shows in the care outcome. So and you know, I really encourage family caregivers and individuals to take a look at their information and see, you know, see if they can

Kayleigh Gordon:  Pull it together and work the gaps. Look like because there is an assumption that, you know, the, the record, you know, records are there all the story is there, and I think if people actually took a more screenizing look they might realize. Well it's not exactly how it happened or They're missing this and and and that's where the family caregivers can really, you know, be such an asset for patient, you know for a patient or for a person you know, in experiencing and illness of any kind. So I think that would be my top tip and you know, hopefully if you if you'd like to take a look at vital about that would be fantastic as well.

Katie Wilkinson: Yeah, I love that. I think the advocating for the person you're caring for is a really big deal. And yeah I think vital could be very useful to people if people want to get started with vital, where can they find you guys online?

Kayleigh Gordon: Yes, definitely. So please come check us out. So we have a website, and in vital is spelled vit-a-l-l on purpose and and we also have and I can link. I'm happy to link my email, Michelle notes, if that's helpful and you can research to me. If anyone has questions, we have social media accounts on, you know, Lincoln and Twitter and various other sites. So you can, you know, Google us and find us. And we'd be happy to connect with everybody and the listeners of the Pod as well.

Katie Wilkinson: Awesome. Yeah, I mean you just mentioned vital spelled with two l's on purpose. Could you tell us about that?

Kayleigh Gordon: Yeah, definitely. So it's it's really the combination of two words, vital and all vital meaning, and it essential and comprehensive, and all meaning, um, you know everything. So it's it's a intentional name.

Katie Wilkinson: I love that. Well Kayleigh, thank you so much for your time and for sharing. So much information about just like what's happening in the health information space and also what you guys are building vital, I think it's exciting for patients and caregivers alike and really appreciate

Kayleigh Gordon: yeah, it was so, you know, exciting for for me to be on as well and I, you know, look forward to kind of engaging with the listeners If they're looking for me.