September 10, 2008

Hoana Medical and Hawai’I Union Health and Welfare Trust Funds Partner to Fix Healthcare

HONOLULU, Sept. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- In a move unparalleled in modern healthcare, Hoana Medical, Inc. and several Hawai'i unions are taking on patient safety by challenging traditional thinking around what benefits will and won't be covered by insurance companies. Whereas typical healthcare insurers like Blue Cross and Blue Shield, or their franchise in Hawai'i, the Hawai'i Medical Service Association (HMSA), decide what constitutes an eligible insurance benefit, several union health and welfare trust funds have decided that, rather than cut benefits to their members or increase member costs, they will invest in advanced technology that improves patient safety and reduces costs by making the LifeBed(TM) Patient Vigilance System a reimbursable benefit for their members when they enter a hospital.

The State of Hawaii Hawai'i Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund (EUTF), the Health and Welfare Trust Fund of the Teamsters, Hotel and Restaurant Employees Local 5, Carpenters, Laborers, ILWU Hotel Workers, and United Food and Commercial Workers, have chosen to make the LifeBed(TM) Patient Vigilance System (LifeBed) available to their collective member groups statewide. Traditionally, healthcare payors have made these decisions surrounding benefit coverage -- and plan members must live with those decisions with little other choice.

Nearly 40 percent of all unexpected hospital deaths occur on the med-surg floor, resulting in a surge of interest in early recognition and patient safety. With healthcare costs at unprecedented levels and rising each year, the union health and welfare trust funds have taken a major step toward improving patient safety by directing their third party insurance payors to reimburse LifeBed costs for their members. Hoana Medical's LifeBed System identifies patients as they begin to deteriorate and immediately notifies the hospital nursing staff -- all invisible to the patient since there is no physical connection to the patient whatsoever.

Now, the LifeBed's 24-hour continuous vigilance of patients is a paid benefit for all union members, their dependents and retirees. This means that more than 230,000 people will have access to cutting edge, state-of-the-art technology while in the hospital -- all paid for by the union health and welfare trust funds, reimbursing hospitals at $18 per day per bed. This improves the quality of patient care while reducing the costs to the unions and their members and dependents -- providing a substantial return-on-investment. It's this type of disruptive approach, coupled with new technology that will ultimately solve the nation's perplexing healthcare issues. For Hawai'i, this represents nearly 30 percent of the state's current workforce and showcases the unions' commitment to partner with technology providers and with hospitals in the growing need for improved patient safety and quality in healthcare, which ultimately reduces costs.

According to the HealthGrades(1) 2006 Report, the State of Hawai'i ranked last in a nationwide survey of patient safety incidents. Patients admitted to hospitals in Hawai'i are more likely to die from a patient safety event than anywhere else in the United States. Hawaiian hospitals were rated the lowest performers in two key mortality indicators including "failure to rescue" and "death in low-mortality DRGs."

"This looks like an emerging trend in healthcare; we are beginning similar conversations around the rest of the U.S. We hear so much about the problems with healthcare and the unanswered rhetoric question 'how can we fix healthcare?' These unions have decided to be part of the solution -- their decision to provide the LifeBed technology as a paid benefit is part of a much bigger issue. They are taking responsibility to address this problem for their members, rather than wait for 'someone to fix the problem.' It clearly spotlights their commitment to their members," said Dr. Patrick Sullivan, president of Hawai'i-based Hoana Medical, Inc. "Our experience across the country is that patient safety in hospitals is part of a bigger issue of too much to do and not enough resources to deliver. The complexity of healthcare and hospitals make weighing-in with a solution a daunting task. However, most hospitals universally agree that the simple act of finding a patient in trouble early is enormously helpful, both from a patient outcome standpoint, as well as all the economics of healthcare. The LifeBed delivers a very sophisticated and complex technology in a simple and elegant form -- simplicity in a complex chaotic sea. Hospital experience with the LifeBed shows that it reduces falls, decreases mortality, and increases patient and nurse satisfaction. It's a tool that immediately alerts nurses to patient deterioration -- early recognition is the key to saving lives."

Nurses are a critical element to delivering quality care at the bedside. Nursing shortages are a growing concern in the patient safety arena, with nursing shortages contributing to higher nurse-patient ratios, which results in less patient vigilance on the medical-surgical unit. Currently, there is a shortage of approximately 126,000 nurses nationwide, which is expected to increase to 808,000 by the year 2020(2). The State of Hawai'i has a shortage of approximately 1,211 full-time equivalent nurses or a 14 percent shortfall. By 2020, that number is expected to increase to 2,669 FTE nurses or a 24 percent shortfall(3).

A recent study on nurse-patient ratios showed that " ... each additional patient per nurse (above 4) is associated with a 7 percent increase in both patient mortality and deaths following complications." Pair this with the current industry standard of four- to eight-hour nurse rounds and patients are left with a large gap in patient monitoring, where sudden or deteriorating negative events can occur unnoticed.

In addition to nursing shortages, recent studies also show that respiratory function is the leading indicator of pending patient distress. Recently the Joint Commission found that "4 - 17 percent of inpatient admissions have critical events such as cardiopulmonary and respiratory arrests and vital sign changes, with warning signs preceding events by an average of 6 - 8 hours" (Joint Commission, 2007). Studies also show a strong correlation with cardiopulmonary trending and patient outcomes. These types of studies have led the Joint Commission to include patient safety as a major focus in its 2009 Patient Safety Goals for all accredited U.S. hospitals, two of which target the reduction of falls and the early recognition of patient decline.

About Hoana Medical, Inc.

Launched in 2002, Hoana Medical, Inc. is the world's leading healthcare company focused on "Intelligent Medical Vigilance" in acute care hospitals where approximately 200,000 people die from errors and mistakes. It's first U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-cleared offering, the LifeBed(TM) Patient Vigilance System ("LifeBed"), transforms any hospital bed into a LifeBed(TM) System by tracking a patient's vital signs without any wires or connections to the patient. At the intersection between information technology and medical devices, the LifeBed(TM) System acts like another set of eyes for the nurse and alerts if a patient is in trouble. It delivers "vigilance" in an un-tethered and invisible manner, however, if the patient is in trouble, the LifeBed(TM) System calls for help. Experience on more than 15,000 individual hospital patients around the U.S. has yielded dramatic stories of nurses intervening to save a patient's life. Hoana is headquartered in Honolulu, Hawaii. For more information, please visit

(1) HealthGrades is an independent organization that ranks hospitals across the country.

(2) U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2002

(3) Hawai'i State Center for Nursing, 2007

Hoana Medical, Inc.

CONTACT: Sonja Brown of Hoana Medical, Inc., +1-916-396-6533

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