Why Memorial Hermann, Boston Children's + MemorialCare got top digital health honors

Four health systems that were recently honored for digital health told Becker's they're focused on boosting virtual care, patient engagement online and remote monitoring.

At the AviA Awards for Digital Transformation on May 9, Boston Children's Hospital won Best in Virtual Visits, Memorial Hermann Health System and MemorialCare tied for the Consumer and Patient Engagement Vanguard award, and Froedtert Health earned the Care Optimization Vanguard award.

"We are proud of the accessibility and flexibility that our virtual care offerings provide — for our patients, their families, and our care teams," said Jen Doorly Magaziner, vice president of digital health for Boston Children's Hospital. "We have a broad digital health portfolio; all intended to increase connection to our incredible clinicians. We know that any virtual care offering is only as strong as the clinical expertise that powers it, and we are fortunate to have world-renowned clinicians and researchers at Boston Children's Hospital."

Houston-based Memorial Hermann has focused on consumer and patient engagement by continuously working to improve its patient portal app, a program that uses enriched texts to send important messages to providers, and interactive voice technology to reach out to patients by phone, said Eric Smith, the health system's senior vice president and chief digital officer. That last project coincided with a 20 percent reduction in no-show rates for appointments.

"Our ultimate vision is to create a personalized digital companion that will help patients own more of their individual health journeys and, in doing so, lead healthier lives. In addition, we’re also improving how we communicate directly with our patients," he said.

The Texas health system is also piloting a digital consumer engagement platform to prepare patients for total joint replacements. Users learn what to expect and how to get ready for the procedure, while a nurse navigator monitors their progress via the platform and intervenes if necessary. "The program has already achieved a 70 percent engagement rate, and we plan to expand it to other procedures and service lines in the near future," Mr. Smith said. 

MemorialCare has boosted digital consumer engagement by launching MemorialCare Right Now with 24-7 on-demand care options, Mila the artificial intelligence chatbot, and the MemorialCare Virtual Exam Kit that allows real-time medical data such as heart and lung sounds to be shared between patients and providers during virtual visits, said Laurie Sicaeros, chief strategy officer at the Fountain Valley, Calif.-based health system.

"Providing easy access to healthcare has been integral to our efforts to ensure our patients have access to the care they need for ambulatory, inpatient, primary care, specialty, and ancillary services without having to pick up the phone to make a call," Ms. Sicaeros said. "We have focused on proactive efforts to make everything from routine care to referrals easy and that means investing in the technology that facilitates access to quality care and experienced providers — whenever, wherever, and however our community wants or needs it."

In addition, MemorialCare captures information from virtual visits in real-time through its EHR, offers virtual maternity care, including remote blood pressure monitoring and online education, and uses a digital communication tool to provide information on neonatal and pediatric intensive care patients to their family members.

Milwaukee-based Froedtert Health has worked to optimize care through technology with its home-based remote monitoring, which was associated with a 30 percent reduction in hospitalizations during the pandemic, and its digital therapeutics formulary that can address 45 different medical conditions, said Bradley Crotty, MD, the health system's vice president and chief digital engagement officer.

"Because medicine is a team sport, we use partnerships extensively — internally across our clinical operations and population health teams, across the network affiliates including our digital subsidiary Inception Health and the Medical College of Wisconsin's collaborative for healthcare delivery science, and with select external partners to bring technology and people together to make care better," Dr. Crotty said.

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