The benefits of hyper-personalized, consumer-centric healthcare and the technology that fuels it

The healthcare market is racing to catch up to changing consumer expectations. Technology that creates hyper-personalization can offer a positive experience and can leverage data to minimize gaps in care. Organizations with an open data architecture reap financial benefits stemming from the loyalty built.

During an April webinar hosted by Becker's Hospital Review and sponsored by b.well Connected Health, Kristen Valdes, founder and CEO of b.well Connected Health, described the features of open data architecture, shared her insights on its benefits, and offered a roadmap for organizations at all stages of digital transformation.

Five key takeaways were:               

1. Healthcare needs a new vision for a digital, all-in-one, consumer-centric solution. Consumers today have sophisticated, user-friendly digital tools to access travel, banking, work, news, weather and social media. But when it comes to healthcare they are left to figure out where to go to access what their families need.  As healthcare organizations raced to adopt digital technologies, they inadvertently created a fragmented and siloed consumer health experience. The result is a confusing mix of apps, portals, and logins for every aspect of healthcare, yet these solutions often don’t work well together or even talk to one another.  What consumers need from their healthcare providers in order to manage their family’s healthcare is a first-screen mobile application that is persistent, portable, and that adds value to the healthcare experience by making fragmented pieces work better together. It’s time to change health “encounters” into health “experiences.”

Fortunately, consumerism, competition and convenience are all now pushing the industry in the right direction, aided by regulations that enable interoperability. "We're trying to create an environment where consumers have a seat at the table, having all the necessary information and insights to select where and how to navigate their care," Ms. Valdes said. The informed, connected health consumer model accounts for the full needs of stakeholders: patients, providers and health systems. Consumers choose the mode of engagement and a personalized workflow combines clinical information with external sources, from payers to wearables to social determinants, offering consumers a retail-like experience.

2. Open, interoperable platform architecture enables hyper-personalization. The evolution of data from dry storage to real-time streams of previously unimaginable volume is reshaping the architecture of healthcare. Interoperable platforms use streaming data from multiple sources to drive hyper-personalization, which in turn encourages patient activation and engagement. Yet from the end-user’s perspective, person-centric architecture can transform this complexity into a simple sign-in, consistent across modalities.

To get there, healthcare needs an open, secure data platform that bidirectionally integrates the data from core systems and external sources. The Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) standard, still in its infancy but already widely adopted, represents a promising path, although further data standardization is needed. FHIR enables the personalization and choice that consumers want through the use of application programming interfaces (APIs) and migration of data through an integration layer.

3. Giving consumers control of their health data and using informed consent to gather who and what they want to share their data with can yield higher activation and deliver personalized insights leading to meaningful results. Consumers are positioned at the center of their own healthcare and are now active participants in their own health. They regularly close their own gaps in care.  The key is making it simple. Ms. Valdes said she hears from consumers, "Stop making it hard for me as the consumer to participate. ... Establish a digital identity for me. Then make sure I can go through…"

Giving consumers simple workflows drives real, meaningful results for stakeholders, starting with loyalty.  Consumer loyalty benefits providers and health systems by driving proactive care, improving performance in value-based contracts, reducing leakage, and creating network effects through the consumer's health circle.

These initiatives are leading to positive business results. According to Ms. Valdes, simply enabling a user to set up a guest account before committing to something, routine in a retail setting, can increase appointment booking by over 20x. Allowing consumers to book, reschedule, and own their own appointments also significantly reduces no-show and cancellation rates, sometimes to as low as 2% versus the industry average of 18% to 24%.  When consumers can see their own data and are educated about a care need between provider visits, they proactively make appointments and follow through to receive care, often at frequencies 20%-30% higher, and without nudging.

4. A successful digital transformation requires a cultural shift, not just a technical one.  For organizations moving to a consumer-centric architecture, an agile mindset is vital, meaning all core facets of digital transformation are worked in parallel. Organizations will be most successful when they focus on Governance, Prioritized Roadmaps with Journey Mapping across all stakeholders, and the re-platforming of their data models in parallel. Strategy and governance are the key to realizing necessary cultural change. Journey mapping, encompassing all stakeholders' perspectives, is framed by stakeholder objectives and leadership expectations for digitization. The architecture for an open, secure data model ecosystem provides the speed-to-value needed to ensure that digital transformation creates the new consumer experience organizations – and consumers – are seeking.

The agile approach, which relies on iterating, testing and measuring, presents a significant shift from traditional healthcare decision-making. "The faster you get something to market and start utilizing it, the faster you can learn from it," Ms. Valdes said, emphasizing improvement based on ongoing measurements.

5. Governance is a key pillar required to launch a successful digital transformation strategy.

Digital transformation actually affects the workflows of the organization and touches every single part of how you operate your business today. Digital transformation done well is not a one time project but becomes the way organizations operate moving forward.  It is critically important to have a strategy in governance where you have the right team structures, key roles in place, collaborative work streams, and overall transparency to what’s being worked on in the organization. Ms.Valdes said “If your team is deploying digital and mobile solutions and the rest of the organization doesn’t know they exist, it’s really hard to get adoption, and people are going to start pulling back in the direction of what is done today.” An effective strategy, governance and communication plan provides the framework for successful execution of the organization’s objectives and key results.

Ultimately, the keys to a successful digital transformation are a digital-first approach, prioritizing data as the foundation of personalization, and learning and adopting a consumer mindset for healthcare.

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