HIMSS21: hospitals, payers and startups claim to be a “digital gateway” and patients are overwhelmed


Whether it’s a patient app, symptom checker, digital concierge services, or a telehealth platform, there is little dearth of options for a ‘front door. digital ”in the modern healthcare landscape.

Particularly with the COVID-19 pandemic in full swing, almost all healthcare organizations are developing or adopting new digital tools to facilitate a smoother patient experience and encourage other healthcare players to do the same.

“Anyone not investing in a digital gateway right now – or [not] investing in the tools that will cover the experience from both the patient’s side and the clinician’s side – potentially creates a lot of friction for the future, ”said Yauheni Solad, MD, medical director of digital health and telemedicine at Yale New Haven Health, at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Global Conference 2021 in Las Vegas.

While it might be hard to find experts at HIMSS21 or any other healthcare technology industry event that would argue otherwise, some stakeholders are calling for a more tactical approach to deployment. They say the deluge of nearly equivalent digital tools has reached the point where it often hurts the patient or consumer experience of healthcare.

“One of the things that concerns me is that the consumer is touched by everyone’s digital gateway, everyone’s digital interaction,” said Dennis Weaver, MD, clinical director of start-up insurer Oscar Health, during a HIMSS21 roundtable.

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“Strongly agree on the state of the union when it comes to the health ecosystem,” said Jayneel Patel, vice president of the center of excellence in health and life sciences at consultant Salesforce Simplus . “What’s missing right now is a way to bring it all together… where you literally put the patient at the center and put everything else together to make the overall experience more cohesive. “

The threat of overlapping digital tools doesn’t have to come from different organizations. Speaking on a separate panel, Tania Elliott, MD, chief medical officer of virtual, clinical and network care services at Ascension Health, noted that the healthcare system needs to put in place its own governance structure to bring together the many digital communication systems resulting from its various projects.

However, the biggest problem arises when different organizations serving the same patient, such as a payer and a provider, claim the same phase of the healthcare experience with their respective digital tools.

“A patient gets a bunch of texts from different programs within Ascension, then you have a payer who says, ‘We have virtual primary care services that are available and we are your digital gateway”; then you have these asynchronous telehealth startups and platforms and they’re the digital gateway, and now they’re trying to create new use cases for patients, ”she said. “We all have to come together and figure out who is in which lane, because it’s a bit of the Wild West.”

Coordinating digital experiences is a relatively new challenge for provider organizations, which until recent years had the majority of their services confined to the four walls of their facilities, she said.

Price transparency resources, clinical decision-making tools and similar products are all “extremely important” as the industry strives to turn patients into smarter consumers, she continued, but discard these random products on an individual is a bad way to promote engagement.

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Weaver echoed these concerns later today and noted that his company’s consolidation of many health services – insurance information, virtual primary care, vital signs tracking, medication information, and lab results – within a single app brought Oscar Health high download rates and frequent repeats. consumer use.

Likewise, he said that the company’s recently launched virtual primary care offering with many of those same features included has unexpectedly attracted a large proportion of patients with multiple chronic conditions. These people were “falling through the cracks” of traditional care – interested in a digital service for their high-need conditions but unable to understand how to navigate an ecosystem of point solutions of health systems and primary care specialists, a he declared.

To reach the next generation of care, the healthcare ecosystem will need a “river guide” that can go even further in collecting or coordinating these digital and in-person services, he said. Such a comprehensive solution would create an alternative to current business models focused on transactions or cost reduction.

“Who can provide a full experience, the full experience that can create value [with] the best clinical results at a total cost price that will be effective? Said the weaver. “The future is that business models will go this route. If you can develop this whole business model, then I think there are a number of buyers out there: employers are going to be interested. [and] insurers will take an interest in it.

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