Dalton Shaull’s journey to co-found a leading clinical workflow automation business OmniLife Health began with a car accident when he was a student at the University of Iowa. An injury to his hand required a nerve transplant, igniting an interest in medtech and how to improve the clinical workflows within transplant. Conversations with an uncle and a transplant surgeon shed light on the complex challenges involved in transplant with multi-disciplinary teams, the time within which decisions need to be made, and all the communications to care teams that are required. This was the backbone behind Shaull developing FlowHawk™, a communication and collaboration platform that captures all the communications between care teams that happen outside of the EHR, starting with organ intake management.
In 2018, OmniLife launched a secure transplant chat tool to facilitate interactions between surgical teams, patients, and organ procurement organizations (OPOs) —non-profit organizations responsible for organ intake management within transplant. Shaull’s significant achievement to secure a $1.5 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant, was used for a research study aimed at enhancing communication to increase organ donation acceptance and transplant rates.
“We were able to demonstrate a 50% reduction in the time clinicians spent on the phone and the 30% increase in transplant rates at hospitals using our technology,” Shaull said.
The findings of this study, coupled with market demand, served as the foundation for the next phase of OmniLife’s growth. The company expanded to meet market demand from a secure messaging chat tool for transplant centers to a comprehensive clinical workflow automation and collaboration platform, and in November 2022, Omnilife commercially launched FlowHawk. One of the biggest barriers to doing more organ transplants is utilization of organs. According to Shuall, many factors influence organ use. Although policy is a factor, scalability and resource availability are also critical. Organ transplant centers are susceptible to a hospital’s operational constraints, including limited capacity due to occupied beds and the availability of surgeons.
Shaull noted that several components are critical to a successful transplant beyond the actual surgery, such as anesthesiology, pathology, cardiology, nutrition, pharmacy, and discharge. Those components need to be part of the workflow to help the transplant centers operate more effectively and efficiently. Shaull’s company is interested in improving coordination between these groups and the transplant center.
There are many standard operating procedures and checklists inside electronic health records (EHRs) but there is a mass amount of data exhaustion – what happens outside the EHR — where care and clinical communications break down, particularly when caring for complex patients involving multiple departments and different EHR systems. OmniLife also plays a pivotal role in the early stages of a transplant journey, helping streamline referrals and provide transparency in patient communication. At the beginning of a transplant journey, as the patient gets diagnosed with organ failure, they are referred to a transplant center. The wait time for an organ may span a couple of months to several years, depending on where in the country the patient lives and the organ they need. Other relevant factors include the number of organ offers the transplant center receives, whether and why they declined previous offers, and estimated wait time to the day an acceptable organ for transplant arrives. Depending on the size of the transplant center, a single center may receive from 30-40 to hundreds of organ offers for their patients, Shaull said. The centers have to decline a good number of organs due to quality or logistics issues.
By increasing case volume, FlowHawk helps hospitals do more transplant procedures. Its communication and collaboration platform accelerates transplant centers’ review of organ offers, helps them make the best decisions for their patients, and accelerates the organ intake process.
Another benefit of FlowHawk is post-transplant care, which triggers a new set of workflows for in-patient discharge, outpatient ongoing care, especially for the first three to four months following surgery. Transplant patients require frequent lab work to monitor and prevent rejection of the graft. The patient needs to be monitored closely for six months to one year
“Hospitals require analytics data to assess and track survivability, which reflect performance and outcomes,” Shaull emphasized. “To make care cycles sustainable, hospitals must reduce these care cycles by 50% or more or face unsustainable costs.”
As healthcare executives assess their operational constraints and vulnerabilities of manual processes, FlowHawk is rapidly gaining acceptance nationwide by transplant centers. It serves as the leading communication and collaboration platform, enabling care teams to accelerate communications, reduce the likelihood of errors, expedite decision-making, and mitigate risk exposure.
Since the launch of FlowHawk, OmniLife has helped transplant centers nationwide to optimize their programs by digitizing clinical workflows to streamline and standardize operations to create efficient, reliable, and cost-effective processes to improve program and patient outcomes.
OmniLife has experienced strong growth over the past year. Looking forward, OmniLife has set its sights on addressing organ failure, including heart and lung failure, and is also considering expansion into kidney and liver failure. Additionally, the company is exploring complex cancers, and patients with complex diseases such as amyloidosis.
Shaull summed up OmniLife’s success this way:
“We’re not a company with a solution looking for a problem. We’re looking for problems and then creating solutions through FlowHawk to solve those problems. We’re also empowering care teams. We believe that to improve patient safety and patient care, we must empower the people providing the care. We take a provider-centric approach, providing structure and standardizing care.
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