No 'cookie-cutter' wellness apps: Why Providence, Prime Healthcare and Memorial Hermann built their own

Ontario, Calif.-based Prime Healthcare developed its own proprietary mental health app at the outset of COVID-19 in early 2020, to fulfill a need hospital leadership saw during a "very dark time in healthcare."

"We knew it was imperative to provide a resource for everyone during this most difficult time," Amy Searls, Prime's chief experience officer, told Becker's.

"We chose to develop our own app, rather than partnering with a vendor, because it gave us more control over the end product. It also allowed us the ability to make changes that fit our health system, as compared to a cookie-cutter app that would possibly limit what we could provide our staff," she said. "We've found this also allows us the opportunity to make additions or changes quickly and easier with our own app."

The In Prime Health app features virtual meditation and yoga, relaxing symphony music and podcasts on issues staff may be dealing with, as well as a crisis hotline employees can use to get help for substance abuse and a scannable QR code that allows them to directly access counseling.

The health system's HR department rolled out the program at each of Prime's 45 hospital locations, assigning hospital champions at each campus to support and promote the app. "Three years later, our leaders are still talking about the app with staff and making sure they are aware that the resource is one QR code click away," Ms. Searls said.

In 2019, Houston-based Memorial Hermann Health System debuted its Resolution wellness app, which offers a four-week immersive program to promote a healthy lifestyle with virtual workouts, guided meditation, and curated grocery lists and meal plans. Resolution also has a closed Facebook group for participants to share tips and encouragement.

The app has had more than 92,000 users, including employees, patients and other community members, with a growth in usage of about 5 percent per year, according to a Memorial Hermann spokesperson.

The health system also gives employees access to the Spring Health, Headspace and Noom mental health and wellness apps, and about a third of its staff have taken advantage of these tools.

With hundreds of thousands of health apps available, Milwaukee-based Froedtert Health created a "formulary" of trusted options, some of which are integrated into its Epic EHR, said Bradley Crotty, MD, vice president and chief digital engagement officer. These include SilverCloud for mental health, Glooko for diabetes and BabyScripts for expectant moms.

According to a 2021 study in HealthCare: The Journal of Delivery Science and Innovation, people who used Froedtert's digital mental health platform during the study period experienced a 20 percent decline in depression and anxiety.

"Increasingly, we are building these digital interactions directly into our primary care experience," Dr. Crotty said. "Some of the most impactful wellness conditions we have targeted are stress, mental health, obesity and nicotine cessation. We have seen and published significant improvements in outcomes, but still have work to do to reach broader populations."

During the pandemic, Renton, Wash.-based Providence launched a variety of wellness apps to support its healthcare providers.

"We learned a valuable lesson early on in this process," said Arpan Waghray, MD, CEO of Providence's Well Being Trust. "The tools and resources that were [previously] developed were not easy to access, and this was creating additional stress among our caregivers as they searched for help."

So the health system went back to the drawing board, building an "intelligent" digital front door, which integrates a stress meter and mental health apps from Lyra Health and CredibleMind, as well as telespiritual health sessions from trained chaplains.

In 2023, the platform has already had more than 150,000 digital engagements and experienced a more than twofold increase year over year in the number of providers engaging in wellness activities, Dr. Waghray said. In addition, more than 44,000 caregivers have taken part in its virtual suicide-prevention training.

A lot of planning went into creating Prime Healthcare's In Prime Health app, according to Joseph Daniel, corporate program manager in IT. The health system's digital team also monitors the app's usage through a mobile analytics platform, checks for crash reports and touches base monthly with stakeholders on ways to better it.

"It's a good idea to continually add more content and, if possible, make the app more interactive so that the employee experience continues to improve and all users are satisfied," Mr. Daniel said.

Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars