Key Takeaways | Hospital and Health System Digital Health Spotlight: It’s all About the Patient!

By on September 14, 2023
Posted In Uncategorized

During this session, leaders from health systems and digital health technology companies explored how they are leveraging their prowess to develop cutting-edge strategies to deliver accessible, easy to use and secure digital health solutions that work together seamlessly across the healthcare ecosystem and patient journey.

Session panelists:

  • Erica Davila, general counsel, Transcarent
  • Daniel Gottlieb, partner, McDermott Will & Emery
  • Nathan Leong, vice president, legal, Memora Health
  • Sudipto Srivastava, vice president, digital transformation, Hospital for Special Surgery
  • Paul Uhrig, senior vice president, chief legal officer and digital health officer, Basset Healthcare Network
  • Moderator: Bernadette Broccolo, partner, McDermott Will & Emery

Top takeaways included:

  • The patient relationship is the cornerstone of any patient engagement strategy. Most, if not all, of the panelists agreed with this statement, yet they also recognize that the consumer and patient engagement solutions flooding the digital health ecosystem have cast doubt as to where the primary patient relationship should reside. For health systems, there is no doubt—they are and must remain a central, trusted partner for delivery and coordination of care across a patient’s healthcare journey. In their quest to do so, health systems are aggressively pursuing strategies that combine digital and in person touchpoints to engage individuals, both as consumers and as patients, “where they are” so they can get them to the right healthcare, at the right place and at the right time. While many digital health technology solution companies pursued “direct-to-patient” offerings early on, some quickly recognized the complexities of that model and shifted their primary focus to becoming an “extension” of health systems and payors by providing the turnkey technology infrastructure and support services they need to remain the “front door” for healthcare for patients and consumers.
  • Patients, providers and self-funded health plans want a seamless, integrated and holistic digital engagement experience. Digital engagement solutions and the data strategies supporting them have been highly fragmented and lacking integration across the patient journey and healthcare ecosystem. This is due largely to their multiple points of entry into disconnected “point-to-point solutions,” which is particularly challenging for poly-chronic patients. Providers and their patients, and self funded health plans and their members, are frustrated and clamoring for single sign on platforms through which they can engage seamlessly, in a single encounter, with digital health applications and data sources. Health systems, in particular, are looking to “fill the white space” in functionality existing between inflexible electronic health record (EHR) systems that rely exclusively on traditional patient identifiers and less formal point to point digital health solutions. Individual providers want solutions that will alleviate the burden and stress of today’s technology tools. And everyone wants an approach that brings a holistic rather than an episodic experience.
  • It will “take a village” to achieve seamless, integrated and holistic digital health engagement. No single stakeholder in the digital health ecosystem has the solution for overcoming the frustrating fragmentation of digital health engagement solutions. There certainly is no “one-size-fits-all” approach. Health systems, payors and digital health turnkey solution providers are increasingly joining forces in this quest, with the technology provider as a “behind the scenes” extension of health systems and payors; the technology provider brings the technology infrastructure and data and work flow engineering expertise, and the health systems and payors bring the patient and plan-member relationships and care delivery and payment operations prowess. The panelists agreed unanimously that the key ingredients for successful collaborations include (a) a mutual, front-end commitment to clearly defined and articulated goals and objectives, (b) guiding principles and disciplined governance structures for managing and monitoring their relationships and performance of the endeavor, (c) an inherent ability to adapt to inevitable and sometimes unpredictable changes in the ecosystem and the industry, and (d) realistic prospects for generating a return on investment (e.g., increased revenue, reduced costs, improved patient access and outcomes, and improved provider satisfaction).
  • Digital engagement tools draw on a data ecosystem that extends well beyond the EHR, yet providers still largely look to the EHR as their primary clinical data source. All the panelists agree on three harsh realities: (a) this reliance on the EHR will likely persist for the foreseeable future, (b) clinical data from digital point solutions must find its way into the EHR so that the EHR provides a holistic view of a patient’s healthcare experience, and (c) digital engagement tools that do not provide a seamless and user-friendly way to connect with the EHR are likely to fail.
  • Transparency must not be sacrificed in the pursuit of seamlessness. Consumers, patients, regulators, pundits, the media and the class-action bar have become increasingly on the alert for digital engagement technology’s use of pixels, cookies and similar tools that track, collect and transfer personally identifiable information for secondary uses such as consumer profiling, marketing and sales. Enactment of state statutes prescribing strict transparency requirements designed to reign in such practices now seems an almost daily occurrence. Federal authorities are joining in the quest for reform by extending the reach of their existing regulatory frameworks and exploring widespread legislative initiatives. A consistent criticism and concern is the lack of full transparency with consumers and patients. All stakeholders—providers, payors and technology developers—must be ever-vigilant in monitoring these developments and remain sufficiently flexible to adapt their digital engagement transparency tools and practices in response to changing circumstances, policies and priorities.




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