HealthChampion Offers Free Access to COVID-19 Symptom Tracker

HealthChampion Offers Free Access to COVID-19 Symptom Tracker

HealthChampion Offers Free Access to COVID-19 Symptom Tracker

Essential businesses can also use app to support employees’ health and manage reporting requirements

CHICAGO,  IL –  HealthChampion, a digital health analytics company and creator of the world’s first consumer-driven health platform, today announced it is offering free access to its new COVID-19 tracker with symptom assessment. Since the explosive spread of the novel coronavirus across the world, HealthChampion has been focused on leveraging the full power of its platform to help American businesses and individuals manage and maintain their health during this crisis.

HealthChampion is now providing free access to its remote health monitoring and management platform which allows users to track and monitor COVID-19 symptoms such as body temperature, coughing and shortness of breath. The tracker also conducts daily symptom assessments over a 14-day period, the incubation time of the coronavirus.  People who are self-isolating or sheltering-in-place can also use the app to:

  • Track symptoms for peace of mind – early detection is critical, especially for high risk individuals.
  • Share vitals and health information with family members and provide remote care for loved ones.
  • Connect with lab results and digital health records across a variety of sources for a complete view that can be shared with care providers and family.

“Since the outbreak, HealthChampion has been working around the clock to adapt our solutions to help Americans respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, monitor for symptoms and foster optimal health,” said HealthChampion CEO Terrence Ryan. “In addition, we are also committed to providing resources to the essential business employers and employees serving us all on the front line, whether in our grocery stores and warehouses or hospitals and senior care facilities.”

In addition to supporting the health of the general population, HealthChampion’s COVID-19 offering is uniquely tailored to support essential businesses (those that people rely on in everyday life) during the crisis. Employees of these businesses can use the secure, personal app to manage their family’s health, while employers can easily file required COVID-19 health reports, through HealthChampion’s employer platform. The app allows essential businesses to:

  • Engage employees through HealthChampion’s free mobile platform to track symptoms
  • Enable different levels of data sharing to fit company needs and employee’s comfort level – to ensure the right action at the right time
  • Enable employees to share with their family to help reduce stress

“HealthChampion was founded on the belief that our best weapon is our own healthcare data. This crisis has heightened the urgency to give people control of their own health data and put it to work to protect their well-being and that of their families,” said Ryan.

Register on the web or download the HealthChampion app to start tracking your symptoms today. Employers can contact Jeff Galas to get started, or visit myhealthchampion.com/covid19 for more info. 

COVID-19 Pandemic: Why Patients Need to Control Their Own Health Data

COVID-19 Pandemic: Why Patients Need to Control Their Own Health Data

COVID-19 Pandemic: Why Patients Need to Control Their Own Health Data

We’re in the throes of a global pandemic. Healthcare providers must focus on fighting COVID-19, but we can’t afford to ignore the reason we’re going into this fight blind. Our best weapon is our own healthcare data. We are going to learn many things from this pandemic, not least of which is that the way we thought about data ownership over the previous decade needs to change.

Pandemics represent a system-wide attack on healthcare. Our best responses rely on social distancing, telemedicine, and the ability to measure the spread of the disease. All of these functions are powered by patient data. But if patients can’t easily share that data with healthcare providers, it has little value in the fight against COVID-19.

But this isn’t just about using telemedicine to fight COVID-19 directly by asking symptomatic patients to first video-conference with their doctors before coming for an in-person exam. Telemedicine also plays a critical role more broadly. Flattening the curve places an enormous burden on the entire healthcare system—from dental and vision, to mental health, and everything in between—because it forces us to deprioritize nonessential functions.

Our ability to expand emergency healthcare capacity depends on the extent to which healthcare providers can serve patients remotely. That’s an enormous task in a nation where, according to CDC data, six out of every ten Americans have a chronic medical conditions, and four out of ten Americans have two chronic conditions. 

What, you might ask, is the problem with scaling telemedicine during the current crisis? After all, we have the technology, right? That’s true—we do have a lot of tools for remote provider-patient communications as well as the ability to transmit vital healthcare data. What’s missing is good public policy around patient data. Put simply, we don’t own our own healthcare data, which means the information providers need to keep us healthy is both heavily siloed and difficult for patients to disseminate.

In response to the pandemic, the federal government loosened HIPAA rules, allowing doctors to communicate with their patients over consumer platforms like Facebook messenger, or video-conferencing solutions like Zoom. That’s a good step, one that follows on the heels of a new rule issued in early March (unrelated to the pandemic response) that allows patients to access and download their health records with third-party apps.

Here’s how National Coordinator for Health IT Doctor Donald Rucker explained the new health records rule: “This is an unprecedented rule allowing the safe and secure access of health information. Americans will now have electronic access to their health information on their smartphone if they chose. The rule requires hospitals and doctors to provide software access points to their electronic health record (EHR) databases.”

But smartphones have been around for more than a decade. For most Americans, regardless of age, their smartphone has been an indispensable tool for many years now. Why did it take so long to put our health data at our fingertips?

One reason is consumers don’t control their own data in the U.S. Broadly speaking, the apps, platforms, and tools that make up our digital economy adhere to a default rule that puts the data under control of the company, rather than the consumer. To a degree, healthcare is part of this larger trend that creates data-haves and data have-nots. But this trend plays out in two ways that are unique to healthcare.

First, when it comes to healthcare, the stakes are literally life and death. The downside risks of ceding personal control of your data to a social media platform aren’t anywhere near the same as losing the ability to control your health data and easily share it with your provider.

Second, while many companies in the broader digital space have moved fast and broken things without regard for consumer privacy, healthcare has taken a different, perhaps more cynical, approach. Safeguarding patient’s privacy is a paramount concern. But privacy concerns haven’t necessarily been the prime motivation for healthcare administrators who fought against rules that would make it easier for patient to own and share their data. What has happened here is that the data-haves of the healthcare industry have hoarded data that doesn’t belong to them, and in the process, they’ve built siloes that make it difficult to deliver quality care in normal times, and harder still to do so in response to a national emergency. That needs to stop.

There’s an old saying that every crisis has an opportunity. We are in a crisis. We’re also facing an opportunity to embrace a patient-centric model for data ownership. Healthcare providers should vigorously embrace the new rules governing patient data, but going forward they must also challenge the data-hoarding mindset that has dominated medicine in the digital age. Our health is just too important to be a data-mining play.

Click here for the full article from HIT Consulting.

Register here for free access to the HealthChampion app and COVID-19 Symptom Tracker

Are you an employer? Check out our COVID-19 App for Employers

 

 

 

 

 

One-size-fits-all gamification is not enough to improve patient outcomes

One-size-fits-all gamification is not enough to improve patient outcomes

One-size-fits-all gamification is not enough to improve patient outcomes

 

 

Around one in three of all adults suffer from multiple chronic conditions, many of which can be avoided or whose symptoms can be mitigated through diet and exercise. Medical professionals have long understood that patient engagement and adherence is the simplest solution to improving our population’s health.

Contrary to what some may believe, however, the problem isn’t that people don’t care about their health. The real problem is that telling people they need to improve their lifestyle is often not enough to produce consistent, long-term changes. The challenge is one of motivation, not interest.

Technology alone isn’t the answer

Technology has disrupted almost every industry today, and it’s had its eyes set on health for the last two decades. We all suspect technology holds one of the keys to driving greater patient engagement. But so far, no one has cracked the code on how.

One solution the industry has wrestled with the past decade are digital health trackers and reminders. Using Fitbits, pedometers, apps or other devices, these solutions use alerts and messages to give patients timely nudges for making healthier choices. And while there are now literally thousands of these apps and devices available, studies continue to show that they don’t make people healthier.

Initial attempts at gamification

Many studies, such as a 2014 report from Health Informatics Journal, have indicated that gamification is a promising way to incentivise improved patient self-management. Understanding that motivation is the key challenge to patient engagement, hundreds of apps have emerged in the past years that used rewards — the simplest of gamification strategies — to motivate users to improve their health.

  • Healthy activity: Apple and Aetna recently launched a campaign that rewarded Apple Health users for maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle. MapMyRun is offering prizes to users who cover 1,020 km in 2020 in its latest challenge.
  • Weight management: Several apps like HealthyWage.com and DietBet.com literally pay people to lose weight, while MyFitnessPal regularly offers challenges and the potential to win prizes for users who log consecutive meals for a number of days
  • Check-ups: Start-ups like Healthereum and Clinicoin reward patients with cryptocurrency when they follow recommended health steps like regular check-ups and exercise.

These rewards-based health apps are attempts to follow the gamification success of non-health apps like Duolingo.com (for learning new languages) and ZyngaPoker.com (for online non-cash poker players).

But while these gamified health apps have had some success, their singular approaches haven’t been gamebreakers when it comes to moving the needle on population health. An article from The National Centre for Biotechnology Information reviews 19 studies on the effect of gamification on health and wellbeing with mixed results. While there is evidence that gamification can have a positive impact on health and wellbeing, several studies also reported mixed or neutral effect.

Gamification that works for all

So why hasn’t gamification worked for healthcare apps? The answer is that this single-focus approach gamification hasn’t worked for most non-health apps either.

Whether for healthcare or other industries, the key to successfully implementing gamification strategies in apps is to first understand that gamification isn’t a magic bullet. Gamification can’t overcome the limitations of an app that doesn’t deliver real value for its audience.

The second key to turning the tide is in understanding that app users are motivated by different rewards. Yes, many people are motivated by monetary rewards, but many others are motivated by other things beyond cash. In short, making health gamification more targeted and personalised to your audience segments is critical for long-term success.

To understand why, let’s look at a few reasons health gamification hasn’t made a bigger dent.

People are motivated by different game dynamics.

So far, most of our attempts to gamify health have been rudimentary and one-size-fits-all. A company might challenge its employees to a “walk-off” in which individuals or teams compete for prizes based on their step counts. A doctor might recommend an app that rewards a person with points or prizes for taking their medicine consistently.

The trouble is that not everyone is motivated by the game dynamic of goals and rewards. In fact, there are six user types when it comes to gaming:

  • Players – This group is motivated by extrinsic rewards and may respond well to the standard types of health games and competitions described above.
  • Socialisers – These folks are motivated by relatedness, so to grab them, games need to facilitate social connections.
  • Free Spirits – The motivation for free spirits is autonomy and self-expression, requiring games that allow them to create and explore.
  • Achievers – This type of individual is motivated by mastery, so it’s important their games nurture learning, acquisition of new skills, and self-improvement.
  • Philanthropists – A philanthropist is motivated by purpose and meaning, so their games will need to enrich the lives of others in some way.
  • Disruptors – These people enjoy finding ways to skirt the game system.

If we’re going to engage patients in long-term change, we’ll need to deploy a variety of gamification approaches that covers this spectrum.

The gaming “high” is subject to diminishing returns.

Moreover, we need to understand how to keep our health games interesting over time. As most of us know, when a person has a goal or prize to work toward, it can trigger a dopamine release in his or her brain. Dopamine can be a powerful motivator, but it’s subject to the law of diminishing returns, meaning it takes more and more of the game stimulus to produce the same effect in our brain.

Professional game makers seek to avoid this effect by ramping up the intensity or difficulty of gameplay and/or incorporating several different types of challenges throughout the experience. If health games fail to account for diminishing returns, it doesn’t take long before the dopamine reward for meeting a game goal is outweighed by the dopamine reward for smoking a cigarette, for instance.

Time is precious.

Even people who can be motivated by a financial reward or prize can begin to lose interest if they feel the amount of time they’re putting in isn’t worth the reward at the end. Putting in time — e.g. time toward exercising or cooking healthier food – is one of the most difficult commitments to make on a long-term basis, so the more time is being required of the patient, the better tailored and more exciting the game needs to be.

How to engineer health gamification that works

Gamifying healthy decision making in a way that drives meaningful long-term engagement will not be easy. But there are a few things we can expect to be part of the solution:

We’ll need to employ a variety of game styles to meet the different motivational needs of individuals. For example, Achievers might benefit from games that teach them about their illness, with rewards tied to completing learning modules. Socialisers may do well with games where they face off against other patients in a supportive, collaborative digital environment.

We’ll need to design health gamification to have the same addictive qualities as video and mobile games by incorporating increasing levels of difficulty, multiple long- and short-term goals, and numerous types of challenges. So for a diabetic, one week’s challenge may be completing an exercise routine, where the next week’s might be cooking a healthy recipe.

Finally, we’ll need to incorporate artificial intelligence in order to recognise when patients are beginning to disengage so it can recalibrate the person’s gaming style or mix up the challenges in a way that reignites interest. Otherwise, people will stop choosing to spend their precious time engaging with something other than their health.

Chronic health conditions are an epidemic-level concern, which is why it’s more than worthwhile to invest time and resources into cracking the code of gamifying healthcare. Gamification has the potential to help us turn this ship around, but only if we approach it with a strong understanding of how the best games work and why one-size-fits-all doesn’t. 

Originally published in Med-Tech Innovation News. 

 

 

 

 

Can digital health bridge the low-income gap?

Can digital health bridge the low-income gap?

Can digital health bridge the low-income gap?

We’ve known for a few years that income correlates with health in a major way. From the length of life to stroke risk to self-reported health status, the more access, opportunity, and means of upward mobility a person has, the better their projected health outcomes. 

Waves of organizations are stepping up to help put things on a better course. Accountable and managed care organizations like Upward Health are working with payers, providers, and local governments to bring doctors, nurses, and community health workers to underserved neighborhoods. In some places, networks like L.A. Care have sprung up to give low-income patients affordable access to doctors and hospitals. 

But all of these initiatives live or die by their ability to connect with and engage patients who may be reluctant to take advice from medical professionals, especially from outside their communities. If we’re going to move the needle on low-income health outcomes, we have to connect with people directly through the technology they use every day — their mobile devices. 

The Income Barriers to Health

Delivering care to low-income populations — and more accurately populations with low socioeconomic status (low-income, low-education, low upward mobility, and lack of insurance) — is complicated by some deeply human challenges. Obviously, not all people of low socioeconomic status are minorities, but they represent a disproportionate bulk of this group, with the economic gap widening since the 2007 recession

Though it varies by city and other factors, on average, minority groups have a higher distrust of doctors than their white counterparts. Even though many of these individuals say they’ve seen a physician in the last year, they may not trust that doctor when it comes to

 1) their competency to refer them to a specialist when needed;

 2) commitment to putting the minority patient’s medical needs above all other considerations;

 3) influence by health insurance company rules on the doctor’s decision making; and

 4) performance of unnecessary tests and procedures.

The reasons for this distrust are complex but entirely valid. There is plenty of evidence of current and historical inequitable health treatment for black Americans. Meanwhile, one-quarter of Latino adults in the United States are undocumented, making them ineligible for Medicaid and afraid to sign up for ACA health insurance. Add in a language barrier or communication gap, and it’s unsurprising minority groups are wary of the healthcare system. 

Cultural norms can come into play as well. Back in 2012, the Census found that 72 percent of Hispanics say they never use prescription drugs. The reason seems to be, in large part, a stronger belief among Latinos in natural medicine and alternative practitioners. When a Hispanic person feels ill, they’re likely to ask their families for home remedies instead of turning to medication. 

For all these reasons, bussing mostly white medical doctors and nurses into low-income minority areas won’t help very much on its own. We have to address the trust barrier if we’re going to start driving meaningful outcomes for low-income groups.

Read the full article at HIT Consultant.

 

 

 

 

 

Treating the smartphone generation: How doctors are embracing mHealth to improve patient care

Treating the smartphone generation: How doctors are embracing mHealth to improve patient care

Treating the smartphone generation: How doctors are embracing mHealth to improve patient care

It’s been just more than a decade since the iPhone made its debut, but it’s hard to remember a time when we didn’t rely on our smartphones for nearly all aspects of our lives.  According to the Pew Research Center, the share of Americans that own smartphones is now 77 percent, and we are using them for far more than calling and texting. Whether its for shopping or banking, finding a date or reading a book, smartphones have become a part of the way we live and navigate through our days, quite literally. Can you even remember the last time you drove somewhere without relying on your smartphone to get you there?  

This trend is no exception in healthcare, where an explosion of mobile health (mHealth) apps and devices have empowered consumers to take charge of their health and wellness. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), mHealth is “the use of mobile and wireless devices to improve health outcomes, healthcare services, and health research.” No matter how you define it, consumer adoption is skyrocketing.  

 In its 2018 Consumer Survey on Digital Health, Accenture found nearly half of healthcare consumers are using mobile apps today, compared to just 16 percent in 2014, and a third of consumers now regularly use a wearable device that tracks lifestyle and health data. The same report found 75 percent of consumers believe technology is important to manage their health.  

Moreover, mHealth is tipping the relationship scales between patients and their doctors. While patients once looked to their doctors as the sole authority on their care, today’s patients are looking for more of a partnership. According to findings from the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, consumers increasingly expect to partner with doctors instead of relying on them to make treatment decisions. mHealth tools such as the HealthChampion app help them to play a more active role in their care, armed with wearables and apps that allow them to monitor and manage their own health.  

Are Physicians Ready for mHealth Patients? 

It wasn’t all that long ago that the first generation of digital health tools launched with skepticism from most doctors. Websites with symptom checkers and health information gave patients the ability to seek out a diagnosis before ever visiting their doctor, and also provided easy access for patients to research more about their health conditions. While physicians could appreciate patient engagement with these tools, many felt they interfered with care. Instead of empowering patients, they generally led to unnecessary patient anxiety when they self-diagnosed with a worstcase scenario based on googling a few vague symptoms.  

Today, digital health tools go well beyond health websites like WebMD. Patients are now coming to their doctors with a wealth of information and tailored health apps stored on their phones including comprehensive health histories, test results from online lab services, and vital signs and lifestyle data they’ve collected through their Fitbit or smartwatch.  So how are doctors handling a new generation of smartphone patients, who come armed with health data in the palm of their hand?  

Unlike their reaction to online symptom checkers, many doctors are embracing mHealth with open arms. As their patients increasingly turn to apps and devices, physicians know they can ill afford to be left behind in the mHealth revolution. They also recognize that patientcentered care movement is here to stay, and believe mHealth gives patients a powerful set of tools to be more active partners in their care. While not entirely without challenges, mHealth offers both providers and patients a conduit to improve communication, care and ultimately health outcomes. 

Physicians GMobile 

Just as their patients are going mobile, physicians too are increasingly bringing their devices into the clinic to help them do all aspects of their job. According to Kantar Media, 84 percent of physicians now use smartphones on the job. 

Convenience is a driving force. Crunched to see more patients and with busier schedules than ever before, doctors are looking for tools that can make their jobs easier. They use smartphones to manage their personal lives, and now they are using them in their practice to look at information on the go, quickly communicate with colleagues and to access patient data and test results, regardless of where they are.  

Just a few years ago, the practice of using smartphones clinically was frowned upon, but a combination of enhanced security measures and an onslaught of physicianspecific apps are making it possible for doctors to leverage mHealth tools throughout their day. Many health systems have rolled out bring your own device policies that allow physicians to use their personal smartphones and tablets, and EHR vendors have enhanced mobile functionality of their platforms. Concern over sensitive data being stored on devices has virtually been eliminated as more information is available in the cloud and can be accessed as needed while remaining secure behind firewalls.  

mHealth Most Used for Communications 

Not surprising, one of the most prevalent uses of mHealth among doctors is for communications. Physicians Practice 2018 Mobile Health Survey shows this is the most common use of mobile technology in the practice setting, with nearly 70 percent of respondents using mHealth for communication between staff members.  

As doctors are increasingly spread out across facilities, mHealth tools make it easier to collaborate and coordinate patient care. According to the Journal of Medical Internet Research, clinical use of smartphones has already been successful in improving communication between doctors and their nurses. This improvement isn’t surprising given many health systems still rely on antiquated communications systems such as overhead paging systems, landline phones, and faxes. 

Doctors are Increasingly Turning to their Smartphones for Clinical Information 

While the greatest adoption of mobile health initiatives so far has been to manage their workflow, doctors are increasingly turning to apps to help care for their patients, particularly when seeking additional information to diagnose and determine treatment options. Whether it is to identify a condition they don’t see every day, look up drug interactions, or perform clinical calculations, apps are putting a wealth of clinical data at doctors’ fingertips to help them do their jobs more effectively.   

For example, Epocrates is an app specifically designed to give physicians answers to clinical questions they may have in front of their patients. Other apps take advantage of the smartphone’s camera, allowing physicians to use photos to assist with diagnosis. This is especially valuable for primary care physicians who are often on the front-line in seeing skin rashes that could otherwise be difficult to diagnosis before engaging a specialist — patients like when doctors use these tools, as it builds trust and shows that they care enough to look up more information about their health. 

Physicians Hope mHealth can Heal the Broken Patient Experience 

At a time when patient satisfaction with healthcare is at an all-time low, some physicians are hoping mHealth can help to heal the broken patient experience. Consumers can do almost anything from their phone. They book dinner reservations, deposit checks, buy tickets, and even check-in for flightfrom their mobile device, and they want that same experience with their physician.  

A wave of new mobile tools and apps are helping physicians to implement mobile conveniences patients have become accustomed to in other areas of their life, offering features such as mobile appointment scheduling and check-in, mobile EHR access and the ability to communicate directly with a doctor via text.  

Nearly half of doctors expect mHealth apps and features such as these will enhance their patient experience, and patients are even more optimistic about the potential. According to Accenture69 percent of patients believe mHealth can bolster communications with their physician, and an equal number believe it will improve the overall quality of their care 

Using Smartphones to Build Patient Engagement 

Among the most promising applications of mHealth is to build patient engagement, something physicians have previously struggled to do between visits. According to Accenture, 73 percent of consumers believe digital tools will improve their engagement with their health, and Digitas Health has backed up that belief, finding that patients who use mHealth are indeed more engaged in their care and more likely to follow advice from their physician.  

To drive engagement through mHealth, physicians are increasingly “prescribing” apps to their patients, recommending tools and wearable devices they can use to manage and monitor lifestyle choices. The number of doctors prescribing mHealth apps has increased to 40 percent, up from just 15 percent three years ago. Showing the engagement potential of mHealth, patients say they are more likely to fill a mHealth prescription than a pharmaceutical prescription 

Although among the simplest of mobile technologies, texting is playing a big role in patient engagement efforts and is proving successful in delivering better outcomes. Doctors are using texts for everything from appointment and vaccine reminders to medication adherence and surgery prep instructions. Some are even using tailored health campaigns based on patients’ profiles. Such programs have increased show rates for appointments, increased engagement in necessary follow-up care, and even reduced hospital readmittance among surgical patients.  

Though Still Underutilized, the Future Lies in Remote mHealth Applications 

Although still underutilized today, consumers and physicians agree the greatest potential for mHealth lies in remote health monitoring and care delivery via wearables and other devices Whether it is real-time monitoring of glucose levels or analysis of EEG signals, remote monitoring tools can have a significant impact on care and outcomes. Remote monitoring can also significantly cut down on skyrocketing costs. For example, wearable devices allow doctors to send patients home earlier after surgery and track their condition remotely helping to reduce the number of days for expensive hospital stays.  

Challenges to mHealth Adoption 

While it is a positive sign to see so many physicians get on board with mHealth, they still face many barriers in the adoption of mHealth. Some of the greatest challenges today include data overload and reimbursement challenges for both doctors and patients.  

  • Data Overload: While access to so much health data should ultimately lead to better care, most physicians don’t yet have the tools to take in the volume of patient data coming at them or to make it meaningful. If a patient arrives with a year’s worth of data from their Fitbit, there is little a doctor can do in the moment of a quick appointment to put the data into context. Despite its potential to predict potential health problems, currently, only 14.5 percent of respondents to the Physicians Practice 2018 Mobile Health Survey said they accept data from these devices, with more than 60 percent noting that the data doesn’t integrate into their EHR system. As more patients begin to adopt wearables and new devices equipped to monitor vitals related to chronic health issues hit the market, doctors will need systems that accept the data they collect and that use artificial intelligence to put it into context and make it actionable at scale.  
  • Physician Compensation: If doctors are successful in implementing mHealth, they could be working against themselves. Our current health system does not have a payment model for physician time spent on mHealth initiatives, so as physicians use mHealth to care for patients remotely and avoid repeat visits, they are effectively reducing their income opportunity. Also, no system exists to compensate doctors for time spent emailing and reviewing patient data. To realize the potential of mHealth as a tool for keeping patients healthier, our compensation model for physicians will need to evolve. A move toward value-based payments will give physicians greater incentive to leverage mHealth tools to keep patients healthier and to avoid additional appointments and hospitalizations.  
  • Patient Reimbursement: Some of the most promising applications for mHealth involve remote patient monitoring, particularly in the management of chronic conditions. But the jury is still out on who will pay for expensive mobile monitoring equipment. While tech-savvy consumers have selffunded the purchase of gadgets like the Fitbit and Apple Watch, the populations most in need of monitoring equipment may not have the means to invest in expensive devices. As we look at the role mHealth plays in our future care model, we must consider new patient reimbursement models that incent patients to monitor their condition at home, not just reimburse them at the point of care.  

Despite these challenges, we are at a very exciting time where mobile is enabling the transformation of care. Patients have the power of their health in their pocket and the tools they need to be a more active participant in their health journey, in partnership with their physicians.  And with technologies like that from HealthChampion, the ability for patients and doctors to take the wealth of health data available and make it practical, insightful, and meaningful is happening now. 

What Patients Can do to Get Their Physician on Board With mHealth 

Though physicians are quickly adopting mHealth solutions and largely recognize its value, in many cases, patient interest in mHealth surpasses what their providers currently offer. For those who want to better leverage mHealth with their doctor, there are steps they can take now to leverage mHealth and engage their doctor as a partner in their care.  

  • Build a Comprehensive Health History: The first step we recommend is to use a platform such as HealthChampion to own and track health history across all providers. Patients and their doctors can both benefit from access to a comprehensive health history that is easilly shared 
  • Track Personal Trends: If patients are using wearables, they can begin to analyze trends, even if their doctor can’t yet take in and leverage all of their data. We recommend that patients build an understanding of their baseline health stats and vitals, so they can quickly see any anomalies and share those with physicians.  
  • Ask Your Doctor for mHealth Recommendations: While the app store may give you feedback from other users, your doctor may be able to recommend mHealth tools based on what they see working for other patients.  

From improved convenience to better care, it is clear that both physicians and patients have much to gain through the adoption of mHealth solutions. When patients actively engage their physicians in conversations about the use of mHealth technology, it is a powerful reminder that they must continue to adapt and embrace new methods to deliver care on patients’ terms. 

Making sense of the healthcare ecosystem and how technology is enabling people-driven health

Making sense of the healthcare ecosystem and how technology is enabling people-driven health

Making sense of the healthcare ecosystem and how technology is enabling people-driven health

Healthcare used to be much easier. The “ecosystem” consisted of you—the patient—and your doctor, the provider. If you needed medical attention or required a hospital stay, your doctor was in charge of coordinating your care.

Healthcare works best when all stakeholders are aligned around a proactive patient, within an ecosystem that supports success. In an ideal healthcare system interrelated consumer, providers, payers, government agencies, and others work together as a community centered around patient care: our care

And with total transparency into costs and shared, open access to the health information we need, healthcare consumer like us can make informed decisions to get the best care for ourselves and our families.

Unfortunately, that’s not the world we’ve been living in.

Our current healthcare system has grown increasingly complicated over decades of growth, changes, and regulation. And too often there is a disconnect among those who populate it. The key players often have conflicting goals that make it impossible for them to unite to serve each our unique needs, preferences and values.

Often, it’s not that they don’t want to work together to provide the best patient care. Our complex healthcare industry simply isn’t set up to enable coordinated care at a reasonable cost that allows patients to call the shots.

HealthChampion is on a mission to change that by taking on our present dysfunctional healthcare system where those who pay for, deliver, and receive healthcare currently operate in siloes that are not aligned with our needs and don’t always put us first.

A lack of transparency is preventing the healthcare system from working the way it should

Healthcare used to be much easier.

The “ecosystem” consisted of you—the patient—and your doctor, the provider. If you needed medical attention or required a hospital stay, your doctor was in charge of coordinating your care and would consult with specialists as needed.

All your health information was managed within one practice, whose doctors made decisions based on your complete medical history. You knew the costs up front and paid the doctor directly. For example, back in the 1960s, having a baby would set you back about $200 for the delivery and 10 cents a tablet for pain medication. You knew this because you would get a hand-written bill presented to you directly by your doctor’s desk clerk.

Today, the healthcare market is more opaque, to put it mildly.

The ecosystem has expanded to include countless other providers – primary and specialty physicians, nurses, and other clinical staff, as well as different hospitals, clinics and labs that deliver care. Our current healthcare ecosystem also includes healthcare organizations like payers—insurance companies that reimburse providers for covered healthcare services—and pharmacies that dispenses and manage the medications prescribed on your behalf.

Rounding out the healthcare landscape are healthcare organizations that don’t deal directly with patients, but whose contributions indirectly influence patient outcomes. These include…

  • Pharmaceutical companies who make and develop our medications
  • Biotechnology companies pushing the boundaries of treatment research
  • Medical device companies
  • Distributors whose products and services are used to prevent, diagnose, treat and even cure diseases
  • Health information technology providers who manage the all-important patient records and data

All these stakeholders play different individual roles, but they should be working together as a team toward the common goal of providing the best patient care. But because our healthcare system lacks transparency into costs, treatment outcomes, data ownership and access to information, these players often operate independently without knowing what the other is doing, often in conflict with one another.

HealthChampion’s goal is to get everyone working off the same playbook, by providing patients the ability to capture all the different data points and information and pull it all together for a more holistic picture of his or her healthcare.

Transparency could help improve accountability across the ecosystem

Transparency about pricing, quality, health and wellness data, appointments, services rendered, results, etc. can benefit each participant in the healthcare industry. Ultimately, transparency can help patients make better decisions that will improve healthcare outcomes and lower costs throughout the healthcare system.

  • Smarter decisions. Upfront pricing and health data transparency will also help patients make informed decisions about whether they want to proceed with a healthcare service, if they would like to get a second opinion, or if they would like to shop around for a lower-cost option. The same goes for clinical services.
  • Quality control. Information about a facility’s quality of care and outcomes can help consumers make better choices and give providers actionable information they can use to improve.

By placing more health information in the hands of the patient, they are better able to have true portability of their health records and other information to improve and empower their health experience.

Benefits to healthcare providers

Transparency also offer benefits for providers, as well:

  • Fewer missed appointments. Making appointment information will help consumers with their schedules.
  • More informed partner. Sharing findings, results and records more readily can help educate patients, for better health decisions.
  • Better ratings. The movement for more transparent pricing and consumer reviews and ratings is happening and patients are using it as a yardstick to measure their providers against the competition.

This type of transparency encourages healthcare practitioners to be more accountable and make improvements, leading to better patient outcomes.

Benefits to healthcare payers

For healthcare payers and insurers, availability of patient data will help identify patterns and trends in healthcare quality and enable them to implement value-based payment models. This could further improve quality and lower costs across the entire healthcare industry.

In addition, payers who provide consumers with clear information about what’s covered, who pays for what, how patients can access care and which providers and facilities are in their networks will gain an advantage in cost management.

When patients understand upfront how much they will owe out of pocket they are more likely to pay in a timely manner, thus reducing the amount of uncompensated care and administrative cost that the system must absorb. Additionally, the patient/consumer can leverage their own health data as they shop for plans or discounts. By taking advantage of health incentives offered by certain plans and being able to share health and medical data with their payers, the consumer might be able to take advantage of certain discount and health incentives to lower their overall costs.

Benefits to federal, state and local governments

Price transparency would allow private payers and policymakers to better understand how Medicare/Medicaid’s purchasing power impacts market pricing. This can open the market up to competition that lowers costs and improves quality of care for the millions on government health plans.

As the country’s largest health insurer, the government, can standardize and provide system-wide access to healthcare data that could help drive transparency on many other fronts, to increase competition, lower costs and improve the quality of care for everyone in the healthcare sector.

Benefits to pharmaceutical companies

Getting a better understanding of the costs associated with each stage of their own drug development and manufacturing process would help them secure competitive pricing from their suppliers, and in turn lower costs for consumers.

In addition, by improving access to information about the safety and effectiveness of medications, pharma companies would enable payers, providers and patients to choose the best, lowest cost options.

Improved affordability means people are less likely to skip doses, or split pills to save money, leading to improved health. And imagine if there were better ways of informing consumers about their medications either through alerts announcing updates and improvements or notifying them that they should see their physician or pharmacist about a timely refill or a possible drug interaction. The benefits seem endless.

Focus on the patient

At the center of all of these is the healthcare consumer. Transparency about costs, quality, and safety from everyone throughout the healthcare sector would help them be better, more empowered consumers. With the information to be accountable, people can make value-driven healthcare decisions that will result in lower costs, more choices, and better outcomes for everyone.

Why isn’t it working today?

Consumers, who should be quarterbacking their own healthcare decisions, have no choice but to look on from the sidelines.

What’s holding them back? The answer points to what our current system is missing:

  • A lack of understanding about how our complex healthcare system works
  • A lack of awareness about their rights as far as ownership and access to their health data
  • A lack of true data portability so that they can access and share their data within their healthcare ecosystem.

Without transparency into these critical components of healthcare, consumers aren’t empowered to be accountable for their own care or make the best decisions for themselves and their families.

Information about pricing and costs are hard to come by

Take costs for example. In the current healthcare market, payers use patient’s health data and provider guidelines to set pricing.

But the average patient has very little insight into who is using their data, how prices are determined and how much services really cost!

Even though we (and our employers) are the ones footing most of the bill for insurance premiums, co-payments, and deductibles, there’s little insights into what healthcare actually costs. That’s because when providers submit claims to payers, who then reimburse them for the billable services they performed, there’s no single standard for how much services should cost.

The fees can range widely based on which payer is responsible for providing reimbursement for a specific component of treatment, how much they’ve agreed to pay, and on the individual provider used. This fee-for-service (FFS) financial model makes it tough for people to comparison shop for the best services at the lowest prices. It also makes it tough for providers to give standardized pricing that’s easy for all to understand.

Since third parties are typically paying, there’s little incentive for healthcare providers and most patients to pay attention to or even try to be accountable for managing the costs of services they use.

Disconnected data makes it hard to see the big picture

Another big challenge is data transparency. Providers contribute to and use electronic health records (EHRs) to manage patient data. Patients also contribute significant amounts of information by voluntarily disclosing details about their diet, physical activity, and lifestyle choices like alcohol, tobacco and seat belt use, among others.

But this information is not always added to the primary record to give a more robust picture of patient health.

The opportunity is clear

Electronic health record systems, along with a variety of other consumer- and patient-centered technologies have the potential to put everyone in the ecosystem on the same page, by combining patient healthcare data from labs, radiology, medical imaging, and pharmacy, and patients’ personal devices, enabling electronic access and communication among providers for facilitating care delivery.

EHR data can also be combined to inform billing, quality management, outcomes reporting, resource planning, and public health disease surveillance and reporting. Instead, all this patient data is trapped in silos across the health care ecosystem where it is difficult for everyone to access and share.

Siloed data is underutilized data

In many cases patient medical records are controlled by a single healthcare organization or healthcare system. Each system has its own set of inconvenient controls that make it difficult for patients and families to access and transfer records across multiple providers. Also, each EHR system stores data differently, making it difficult to tell who recorded which data, or where and when.

The problem is that pieces of patient health data get scattered across disconnected clinical, research, administrative, and financial software systems. As a result, information that originates outside of the established system, like lab tests, medications and other procedures, aren’t always incorporated into the primary record, preventing everyone on the healthcare team, including the patient, from having the benefit of the big picture.

These data silos make it difficult to identify and address important health trends with patients or support any form of personalized care. The result is passive, frustrated, uninformed patients who don’t have the tools they need to be proactive, so they wait until they get sick before taking any action.

We need to seize the opportunity

HealthChampion advocates for patients to have more control over their health data along with the ability to give everyone in their healthcare ecosystem equal access to it, so they could be better prepared to identify and manage conditions before they become an issue. The provider and patient-provided data could be made available to everyone in the healthcare sector to get a complete picture of patient health so they could work together to deliver personalized treatments that will optimize outcomes for each person.

Unfortunately, until recently, we haven’t had the tools to do so.

Technology is bringing transparency and empowering consumers to take control

Technology brings with it an array of capabilities for collecting, measuring and managing data, as well as automating processes, to empower everyone in the ecosystem to make more insightful, informed decisions. With this new level of transparency, consumers, providers and all the of the health ecosystem players can get the information they need to better manage the patient’s personal health journey, find out if a condition needs medical intervention, determine treatment options, pay for treatments, and determine if the quality of care received and payment paid provided the best value.

Technology enables data ownership and liquidity

Data is central to empowering individual patients to be accountable for the management of their own care. New consumer-centric, cloud-based data solutions are moving the entire healthcare system towards a more informed, proactive approach to health. Digital disruptors like blockchain are helping players beef up their ability to collect, consolidate, and share all forms of patient data as the one source of truth across the healthcare sector in a secure and private way. At the same time powerful analytics programs are quickly becoming table stakes for providers who want to stay competitive.

With new capabilities to effectively analyze data across systems and care settings providers are able to better predict their patients’ future treatment needs and monitor the effectiveness of their medical care. And with advances in data security, one source of information is more easily accessible by everyone in the healthcare ecosystem.

Data liquidity from all medical record sources breaks down siloes and enables patients to be accountable. The result will be an engaged patient who is incentivized, informed, supported, and empowered with the tools needed to take a proactive approach to their own health.

Changing the healthcare landscape for the better

With increasing transparency comes control that enables consumers to take treatment into their own hands. The security to allow physicians, clinical staff, family, friends, and caregivers specific access to their data enables people to build their own patient-centered community for ongoing support.

The trend toward consolidated information also brings collective benefits for everyone in the healthcare industry beyond individual patients. Digital data networks have the power to connect fragmented system data across geography to generate faster, better results and identify potential treatments that can be shared for the benefit of large communities of similar patients.

For instance, patients undergoing treatment for the same chronic conditions can be identified and grouped together to share test results and best practice clinical outcomes.

The trend toward consumer ownership and healthcare accountability is a work in progress, but with HealthChampion’s support, we’re heading in the right direction. Better access to their data, plus the ability to share their records within their healthcare ecosystem and on their own terms will provide the needed transparency to drive improved costs, quality of care, and better health.

The healthcare system is finally beginning to realize the benefits of incorporating technology that enables disconnected consumers and healthcare organizations to see and share individual patient data with each other, with the patient’s permission. With fully engaged and enlightened patients in control, providers, payers, and everyone across the healthcare ecosystem will need to become more closely aligned on driving positive outcomes for overall patient health.

Pin It on Pinterest