As you might expect, last week’s 2016 OPEN MINDS California Management and Best Practices Institute was infused with technology. Sessions like “Using Technology To Improve Consumer Access: Optum California’s Investment In Telemental Health Initiatives” featuring Deb Adler, Senior Vice President, Network Strategy, Optum Behavioral Health, to “Why Health Care Is Not Like Google Or Amazon: The Challenges Of Fitting Ideal Data Models Into The Real World”, featuring Earl Lipphardt, MA, Chief Residential Officer, Integrity House, provided a wide range of stakeholder perspectives on technology.
And to take a look at the future of technology in the field, my colleague and OPEN MINDS senior associate Steve Ramsland, Ed.D. convened a lively town hall forum, The Future Of Health Care Technology: A Town Hall Discussion With Digital Health Executives, featuring Anupam Khandelwal, chief executive officer of SageSurfer; Eve Phillips, chief executive officer of Empower Interactive; and Dr. Corey McCann, chief executive officer of Pear Therapeutics. The session focused on what technologies these top executives in the digital health space are developing – and how these technologies fit into the integrated, value-driven system of the future.
Anupam Khandelwal talked about SageSurfer’s mission to improve channels between clinicians and consumers outside of the clinic walls. The company has built a consumer-driven, HIPAA compliant web-based platform that connects the consumer, the care team, and the consumer’s support group (friends, family, etc). The care coordination platform allows the consumer to check in and alert a support group, while allowing the care team to share notes and treatment information that integrates with their provider organization’s electronic health record (EHR). With consumer consent the support group can also view the consumer’s treatment plan and check in on treatment progress. Using SageSurfer, the provider and the support group can follow the consumer through the continuum of care. SageSurfer is being marketed to health plans and provider organizations (for more, see SageSurfer).
Eve Phillips discussed Empower Interactive’s mission to expand access to care through digital health solutions. Specifically, Empower Interactive has developed online cognitive behavioral therapy (eCBT) for issues including depression and anxiety through their platform, to be used alongside traditional CBT. The goal of the model is to increase consumer engagement and retention while reducing the time clinicians must spend with each consumer. Ms. Phillips likened the model to a reversal of school learning – consumers listen to the lecture at home and then do the homework in the classroom to maximize the impact of their time with a licensed clinician. Empower Interactive currently has contracts with a variety of payers, including Kaiser Permanente and the U.S. Army (for more, see Empower Interactive).
Dr. Corey McCann talked about Pear Therapeutics’ mission to develop “digital combination interventions” that combine digital tools and medications into one treatment for the most effective care. To combine digital interventions, a QR code is stamped onto the prescribed medication, that when accessed provide games, tracking tools, online therapy, and other digital features relevant to the diagnosis. Currently, Pear Therapeutics is seeking FDA approval for its opioid treatment app and dashboard. If approved, the app will be the first FDA patient facing therapy approved (for more, see Pear Therapeutics).
What were my takeaways from the day?
Blended or hybrid care models are the future – All three executives agreed that the use of technology by itself is not an effective stand-alone treatment. Rather, technology enhances and improves face-to-face service. It can help alleviate the shortage of clinical professionals, address consumer needs outside the clinic, and offer more effective treatment. All agreed that for consumers in rural areas who have no access to treatment, some treatment is better than none, but the most effective path is to use these technologies in coordination with traditional treatment.
Value-based purchasing is making these technologies more important (but slowly) – When you need to reduce costs and improve performance, technology is increasingly one of the best options for delivering a service. All three executives acknowledged that provider organizations moving towards value-based payments are more likely to see the competitive advantage of using these models; however, adoption of value-based payment is currently moving slowly and unevenly across the country, which is contributing to a delay in tech adoption.
Technology has to be adopted at all levels – For tech to be successful, it has to be adopted at all levels, including by the consumer, the provider organization, the professional, and the payer. Sometimes consumers want more technology, but provider organizations are slow to act – or provider organizations want a technology, but payers won’t reimburse for it. Payers have to see the efficacy and the cost-savings from using a new tech product; provider organizations must see improved clinical outcomes and improved consumer experience; and consumers must find the product both engaging and useful. Developing a product that hits all of these “buttons” is difficult, but necessary if technology is to be considered an effective treatment.
For more on tech products, how to integrate them, and how to finance them, join me for “How Do You Pick The Right Health Care App? A Guide To Incorporating Mobile Technology Into Your Treatment Strategy” and “Community-Based Treatment Through Technology: Remote Monitoring, Wearables & More” at The OPEN MINDS Technology and Informatics Institute on November 10-11 in Washington D.C.