Solving the Last Mile of Healthcare: 3 Ways to Better Reach Patients

The pandemic has dramatically accelerated innovation across the healthcare industry, driving new ways to reach patients and virtual ways to deliver care. However, many Americans still lack access to care, whether due to cost, distance or an inability to understand the convoluted healthcare system.

To address this, digital health providers and companies should consider a few key priorities in their efforts to better reach patients. This was the message of a round table during MedCity Investing in digital health conference in Dallas on Wednesday.

Make a real commitment to value-based care

Speakers agreed that vendors need to further reorient their payment models towards value-based care if they want to ensure that more patients can access services and adhere to their care plans.

“It’s complete nonsense to me that you’re going to see a doctor who’s going to make a decision when he doesn’t know and doesn’t care about the costs,” said Max Cohen, CEO and co-founder of Sprinters’ health. “As a patient, you’re not sure what’s going to happen. You’re probably employed by someone who you pay a certain amount of money to every two weeks, but you don’t know what goes into your bonuses. And this company hired a payer to then decide what really happens.

Value-based models are preferable to this method of pricing care because they are more transparent, aligning incentives with the quality of care a patient receives, according to Cohen. While he argued that a widespread shift to value-based care is desperately needed, he expressed doubts whether it will really gain traction any time soon, saying that “value-based care have been absent for two years for 20 years”.

Cyril Philip, vice president of digital enterprises at Bon Secours Mercy Health, agreed with Cohen’s sentiment. He pointed out that the majority of health systems revenue still came from fee-for-service care, but acknowledged that hospitals were slowly moving towards more value-based models of care. Because these models focus on a patient’s entire care journey rather than just billing for specific procedures and medications, they often help patients feel more comfortable with seeking ongoing care. to maintain their health, Philip said.

Prioritize innovation even when times are tough

Financial margins of health systems stay incredibly slim, but Philip argued that hospitals should still actively seek healthcare startups to sign partnership deals with. Hospitals that do not prioritize innovation partnerships, such as transportation assistance or home health programs, will fall behind in the future – these initiatives are not something you can simply postpone when times are tough financially, Philip explained.

“Ten years ago I might have said ‘We’re just going to get through this. We won’t invest, and everything will be fine in the end. But now, if we don’t build those partnerships and try to bring new solutions, we will fall behind our competitors. We’re going to start losing patients, losing market share and losing our ability to make these value-based contracts,” he said.

Engage patients beyond their episodic care needs

Patients view the hospital as a place where care is provided, but it would be better if patients could view hospitals as wellness centres, according to Philip. Hospitals are devoting the vast majority of their improvement efforts to honing their acute care capabilities, but they could spend more time understanding their patients’ day-to-day health outside of times when they need surgery or fall. really sick, he said.

Zachary Clark, head of growth at Uber Health, wholeheartedly agrees. He said our daily habits have a much greater effect on our overall health than the health care system would have us believe, with how little attention it pays to our behaviors outside of our providers’ offices. He said Uber Health’s biggest opportunity to enact meaningful change may not be in transportation, but rather in delivering healthy food to communities that otherwise wouldn’t have access to it. .

Photo: elenabs, Getty Images

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