Building a Seamless Digital Health Experience: 3 Innovative Models

conceptual image of seamless digital health

Technology has been touted as the answer to questions about how to deliver the health experience of the future.

But can that digital experience be both personalized and seamless?

That was the question posed to a panel of experts by moderator Jamie Stockton, a senior equity analyst for Wells Fargo Securities, at the recent HLTH 2019 conference that took place in Las Vegas in October. It seems that the answer to that question isn’t a simple one.

All of the panel participants are, in some fashion, building innovative digital healthcare delivery solutions with the goal of putting consumers first and creating for them a highly personalized and integrated digital experience. And they each had an opinion on whether a seamless digital health experience was possible.

Oscar Health brings a human touch to health insurance

Sara Wajnberg is chief product officer at Oscar Health, a consumer-focused digital health insurance company. Oscar Health aims to do something that would seem highly disruptive in the health insurance industry: add a human touch to the process and make it easy for consumers to navigate the complex healthcare system to get the insurance coverage, information, advice, and care they need. Currently available in 15 states and 26 markets, Oscar Health offers its members a dedicated concierge team, a 24/7 doctor-on-call telemedicine service, a provider search service, and a medical history repository.

How successful has the company been so far? One measure of success is consumer engagement. By that measure, Oscar outstrips engagement of traditional health insurance companies by wide margins: 83 percent engage through online accounts, 40 percent are active monthly users, 47 engage through mobile devices, and 22 percent use the telemedicine services.

Engagement Chart from Oscar Health – screen capture at HLTH 2019

How does the company achieve such impressive results? By putting customers and clinicians first. The key to its ability to do this is by owning the entire end-to-end experience—from the customer interface through the back-end technology.

But it’s more than just technology that’s working for Oscar Health: As Wajnberg said, you need technology plus service. Oscar Health is beating the incumbents by building member trust. Wajnberg joked that while the insurer isn’t traditionally a trusted advisor, Oscar Health is seeking to change that. For the company, consumers’ trust is essential to success. And the company’s efforts are paying off: In a recent member survey, more than 75 percent said they trust Oscar for advice on navigating the healthcare system.

The company builds this trust in a number of ways. First, the platform and services are designed to be easy to use and convenient. The experience of seeing a doctor is also made easier. And new members are quickly introduced to the concierge team that will help them navigate their healthcare experience.

One measure of success is how often Oscar Health plays a role in a member’s healthcare choices. For example, noted Wajnberg, more than 40 percent of members use its services to choose a doctor. Another measure of success is savings: When members interact with the telemedicine doctors, they save an average of $130 per consult.

Christiana Care’s mission begins with love and ends with excellence

The people running Christiana Care Health System, a healthcare system that’s been around for 130 years, believe that if you focus on love, excellence will follow, said Edmondo J. Robinson, M.D., MBA, FACP, chief transformation officer and senior vice president of consumerism at Christiana Care. Naturally, this traditional health system is currently undergoing significant change. Dr. Robinson is heading the effort to build a consumer technology platform that ties together all the components to deliver a seamless customer experience.

To that end, Dr. Robinson shared the company’s consumer digital roadmap—a vision that is already delivering such services as finding a doctor, self-scheduling, consumer-generated data, telemedicine, patient education, open notes, and messaging in its first phase, with more innovation to come in phase two, including automated bill pay and appointment management.

Consumer Digital Roadmap from ChristianaCare – screen capture at HLTH 2019

Like Wajnberg, Dr. Robinson believes that all the players in the healthcare system need to put the person first. He noted that even with all the technology—robotic process automation, artificial intelligence, imaging—the key is still positive human interaction. Technology is simply the enabler.

Dr. Robinson also believes that to make the consumer experience seamless, total integration is required. This integration will bring together all the players and systems, including CRM, data flow, workflows, security, compliance, and more. In addition, the clinician-side experience must also be seamless. While he believes this seamless digital health experience is possible, he doesn’t believe we’re there yet.

Hims & Hers helps consumers with their most sensitive healthcare concerns

Hims & Hers is a new entrant in the healthcare industry. In 2017, explained the company’s Chief Marketing Officer Melissa Waters, the company introduced Hims, which provides treatments for hair loss and erectile dysfunction. The following year, Hers was launched, offering sexual health and wellness products and services for women. The company currently has more than 50 products for more than a dozen conditions for both men and women as well as a network of 200-plus licensed physicians providing asynchronous health services.

Overview from Hims & Hers – screen capture at HLTH 2019

Offering both products and a telehealth experience, Hims & Hers has three goals. The first of these is access. Waters noted that young people especially are looking for different healthcare access channels. The second goal is destigmatization of sexual health problems. And the third goal is quality.

Waters presented the company’s model for care delivery with an example. As she explained, patients begin interacting with Hims & Hers by visiting the company’s website. There, they can find information on various topics around the treatments offered. They would then enter the workflow process, which begins with medical history information collection, the same type of information that would be collected in a traditional medical setting.

Consumers and clinicians communicate asynchronously on the Hims & Hers-built platform. Patients say the asynchronous conversation is more convenient than working around a specified appointment time. They can even send a message to the doctor in the middle of the night if they wish. If the doctor needs more information before treatment, it’s as easy as sending back a message to the patient. Then the patient is placed into the doctor’s queue. Waters noted that in the traditional healthcare model, there’s an average 24-day turnaround. On the digital platform, that turnaround time is reduced to less than an hour.

The next stage in the process is the interaction between doctor and patient. Once the appointment is complete, the doctor can prescribe medications, if necessary, which are delivered through Hims & Hers. This offers another benefit to patients: price transparency for all products and services.

When it comes to delivering quality, Waters said it’s a combination of people, process, and systems. Hims & Hers has a chief medical officer, a high-quality medical team, and top advisors in numerous specialties. Each doctor who works for Hims & Hers goes through a rigorous recruiting process and receives extensive training on the platform. Other system checks ensure a good match between patients and doctors. The quality, emphasized Waters, is built in throughout the system.

Healthcare centers around people, not technology

The businesses described in all three of these examples all have one thing in common: They put people first. This, in itself, is changing the face of healthcare, an industry that too often has forgotten the central role of the patient, especially as technology is being publicized as the answer to delivering the best experience. But whether it’s a provider or a payer, when companies put consumers first, the personalized, seamless digital health experience becomes an attainable goal.