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Richard WangRichard Wang, SVP of Product

With the first in-person conference season since 2019 behind us, it struck me how many themes remain the same — session after session propagating the promise of digital health, while bemoaning the lack of traction. I witnessed a barrage of perceived issues, including who will pay, what is the ROI, where will IT and IS find resources and how to handle patient-generated data. Even if we solve all these points, we don’t know who owns digital health in our system or where to start.

What I’ve seen work best is to just start somewhere, anywhere. There are so many options, just get started. Adding incremental value now is better than waiting to add the most value later.

In April, I had the privilege of speaking at the Health Datapalooza and National Health Policy Conference in D.C. with Lindsay Deneault, AVP of partnerships at Atrium Health, and Juan Pablo Segura, founder of Babyscripts, on the topic of Making Care Personal by Leveraging Data.

Technology occasionally gets an unfair label as depersonalizing medicine when, in fact, harnessing data helps enable personalized care delivery. Atrium Health chose to start with maternity to test this theory and has successfully used digital tools to increase patient engagement and improve the patient experience, all while making their clinicians happy by reducing the clicks to enroll patients and freeing up clinic time for the highest priority patients.

Personalizing Care Journeys While Adding Patient Face Time

Using data and digital tools to deliver in-context care and messaging (i.e., sending patients information when they are already thinking about, or acting on, their health) unquestionably drives greater impact and patient loyalty. Data-driven digital health can enable personalized care and improve access with key populations, especially for patients with more than one medical condition. These seamless, digital engagement ecosystems are required to shift the industry towards participatory health.

With care teams already stretched thin, digital initiatives must also drive efficiencies and free up clinicians for more face time with patients.

In line with this approach, during our session, Lindsay shared that when Atrium Health surveyed its patients, the health system learned that perceived digital experience is one of the most important areas where it can make a difference. Building on its philosophy of personalized care, Atrium Health made a goal to build programs that solve clinical needs, meet patient demand and execute on strategy. In response, Atrium Health has a simple, easy framework for connections – Atrium Health’s Connected Everywhere™.

Atrium Health chose to design the experience around the patient to make it as frictionless as possible, and leverage digital to address care access challenges and reduce no-show rates.

Focusing on maternity, Atrium Health shared concern that while maternal deaths are declining across developed nations, they are increasing in the U.S. The health system brought in digital to engage patients through daily content and remote monitoring. Working with partners Babyscripts and Xealth, Atrium Health became the first health system in its area to offer a digital maternity program in Spanish and to make remote patient monitoring (RPM) available to low-risk prenatal patients.

RPM-enabled prenatal care became part of the standard care for low-risk pregnancies during the pandemic and helped Atrium Health meet its program goals.

Atrium Health leverages automation in Xealth to send patients a text message for enrolling in Babyscripts when they leave their appointment. Working with partners like Xealth to design the workflow, such as delivering information through or outside the portal, in a way that most intuitively brings in data to inform care. Using automation to scale its programs, patient enrollment increased 48% while clicks by care teams simultaneously decreased, saving 120,000 clicks to date.

Smoothing the Path Forward

One challenge organizations face when starting down the digital path is determining which patient population to target first as there are no shortage of patient groups that could benefit from added information and automation. Go with something easy first and add features later. Don’t worry about it being perfect. With software as a service (SaaS), you can increase functionality as you go.

Remember, data are not all created equal, and several forms are required to inform personalized care delivery, including language preference. Further, EHR systems do not ingest information the same way. Atrium Health required Cerner and EPIC to come to the table with the right FHIR resources to make automation possible between the two systems.

The pandemic has increased the trajectory of automation; however, the value was present before COVID. In a Medicaid clinic, Atrium Health needed to train 70 different providers each year on Babyscripts in order to enroll patients. Without automation, that would be a huge undertaking. Automation not only helps scale, it also positively impacts clinician workflow by decreasing clicks and increasing patient enrollment.

What Comes Next?

True innovation requires an equity first approach and an emphasis on implementation. Once you have the framework in place, several opportunities exist to apply personalization to more patient journeys and to layer in additional products, services and content. Data can be used to refine programs based on who is prescribing the most or engaging with patients, based on the data they generate, and more contextual care that considers several social determinants of health.

The doctor-patient relationship must remain at care delivery’s core. By incorporating current technology channels, portions of treatment plans can be successfully personalized and automated for better patient and clinician experiences to drive improved outcomes. Sharing data drives deeper cross collaboration across different apps, providers, care regimens and payers to view the entire puzzle and make better informed decisions for each patient.

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