Platform strategies rise as organizations try to personalize care

Announcements at HLTH underscore the move to broader approaches to improve patient engagement and streamline info access.

Healthcare organizations are moving toward a digital front door strategy that uses data from a variety of their information systems.

Healthcare organizations are taking a fresh look at how they are interacting with patients, realizing that existing efforts have been fragmented and largely unsuccessful in building linkages with consumers.

At the HLTH conference this week in Las Vegas, several organizations announced initiatives or discussed efforts to create broader engagement platforms, which are intended to help patients better navigate complex care journeys and facilitate interactions ranging from finding physicians to paying bills.

The move to digital platforms for patient interactions represents an evolution away from single-purpose “point” solutions that serve a patient’s need at one point in time – for example, when a couple is moving through a pregnancy and use an app to access educational material or scheduling assistance. However, these solutions may not engender continued use or help patients manage other interactions with a healthcare organization.

The move to digital interaction platforms could address the challenges that organizations face in building ongoing relationships with patients, a key strategy across the industry.

Supporting patient interactions

At the HLTH conference, Highmark Health, Google Cloud and League announced the rollout of My Highmark, an interoperable digital health platform that will facilitate patient interactions and make it easier to interact with Highmark Health, a Pittsburgh-based enterprise that owns an insurance division that provides health insurance to 6.8 million members.

The initiative is described as a “digital front door to a holistic customer experience.” Using a single sign-on through a merged portal and mobile application, My Highmark is expected to enable care navigation, access to virtual and digital health, simplified bill payment and cost transparency, said Karen Hanlon, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Highmark Health. It’s a step forward from Highmark’s current consumer apps or portal, which must direct patients to other systems if they want to do things like scheduling appointments.

The platform will make use of Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) standards to enable access to healthcare information and to help draw together information from various care venues, including virtual and digital interactions. Phased rollout of the new service to some Highmark members will begin in January, Hanlon said.

The partnership enabled development and design services from League, a platform technology company that specializes in consumer experience and patient engagement. “This is centered on the consumer, not around billing or administration or transactions,” said Michael Serbinis, League’s founder and CEO. The intent is to enable personalization, content relevant to the user and gamification. “It’s not the portal you come to once or twice a year, but a trusted partner that you can come to all the time.”

In the Highmark project, the Google Cloud enables easy access to data and personalization, while empowering Highmark with more capabilities to use advanced analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning, said Amy Waldron, its global lead for health plan solutions.

Data access supports personalization

In another announcement at HLTH, Healthfirst announced it would be implementing a new patient data platform in a cooperative effort with Twilio, which offers technology that supports customer engagement.

Healthfirst, a large not-for-profit integrated delivery system based in New York, has helped develop the system – Segment for Healthcare & Life Sciences – with the aim of unifying patient data from every encounter across the system. This will improve personalization of treatment by improving access to information, executives say.

For example, if a patient is denied a prescription at a pharmacy, Healthfirst can instantly see the interaction and correct any issues before a patient leaves the pharmacy. The new platform will enable “Healthfirst to challenge norms by providing a comprehensive and real-time view of our members’ care journey,” said Sandip Chandarana, vice president of application development at Healthfirst.

These efforts are emblematic of efforts to create broader solutions to improve personalization and patient interactions. In particular, healthcare is trying to play catch-up with other industries that have used apps and information access to improve customer satisfaction – a tough road so far in healthcare.

The Highmark project “has a shared mission of tackling consumer experience in healthcare,” said Serbinis of League. “The industry has seen a lot of point solutions – that’s usually just too much for the consumer. Point solutions eventually give way to platforms.” An all-encompassing platform seeks “to make data actionable for the consumer.”

Such efforts also offer benefits to provider organizations, because it gives them an way to offer patients frictionless access to care, said Adnan Iqbal, CEO of Luma Health, which offers a platform that automates patient journey for health systems and other providers.

Patient data across an healthcare organization is complex, and it comes from many separate systems, including the EHR, customer relationship manager, telehealth, revenue cycle systems and more. A platform approach uses standards to access the information from these systems and integrate it, Iqbal said.

Platforms can better enable the development of a digital front door, a point of focus for healthcare organizations, particularly after their experience with the COVID-19 pandemic, he added. “There’s been a tectonic shift since the pandemic; everyone is now on a digital transformation journey.”

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