How Adventist Health is combining high tech with high touch to deliver personalized patient experiences

Advanced technology driven by artificial intelligence (AI) can drive meaningful improvements in healthcare delivery, but it must be used in concert with an empathetic human touch to deliver a personalized and attuned healthcare experience.

In a June Becker's Hospital Review webinar sponsored by Get Well, Michael O'Neil, founder and CEO of Get Well, and Jason Wells, chief strategy officer at Adventist Health in Roseville, Calif., discussed the importance of this high-tech, high-touch combination and shared how Get Well and Adventist are working together to achieve this vision.

Four key takeaways were:

1. Healthcare consumers want superior digital care offerings and will migrate to providers who can deliver them, especially after COVID-19. With more than 80 percent of consumers unhappy with their healthcare experience and more than half willing to switch providers for a better digital experience, it's time for health systems to take notice. "I think COVID baptized the entire population to be digital natives," Mr. O'Neil said. "It's no longer just our kids, it's all of us." There was between 20 and 40 percent increased digital adoption across all industries during the pandemic.

2. Health systems need a high-tech foundation to re-engage patients. Although many facets of digital healthcare are complicated, such as privacy, security and compliance issues, others are not. Mr. Wells emphasized that it's important to initiate those simple efforts first. "Think about how to leverage the cell phone to create an interaction," he said. "Most of us are text messaging and sending patient reminders; those are must-haves. But take that device and see what other options are possible like finding same-day video visits and online scheduling. If we can do it with coffee and haircuts, we should be able to do it with healthcare."

Mr. O'Neil added that "every touch we have with a patient allows us to build a 360-degree profile of who they are and what they need, not just clinically but also socially. Do they have a hard time with transportation? Are they anxious about their upcoming appointment? Can they not afford to fill their prescriptions? This information helps us make sure that we're intervening in the most appropriate way to help patients out on a very personal level."

3. Get Well pairs AI-driven tech outreach with human navigators at strategic moments through the healthcare journey. "These are real people we are touching, both those receiving and delivering the care," Mr. O'Neil said. "We have to get the empathy right. We need to augment all this incredible automation with real human touch to reach out when needed."

Adventist Health uses a digital assistant named Hope who sends out AI-driven personal outreach texts. "Hope is backed up by human navigators who can step in and have a real conversation," he added. "These navigators can get people connected to the care they need or answer questions in real time."

4. Adventist successfully re-engaged dormant patients, resulting in closing care gaps and reclaimed revenue. More than 160,000 Adventist patients had not completed a wellness exam in the last 18 to 24 months. The digital-first patient outreach generated more than 40,000 new or follow-up visits within the first 144 days of implementation, reclaiming $8 million in revenue.

"Our navigators were a critical augmentation; they actually had 20,000 of their own live, supplemental interactions to drive the success," Mr. O'Neil said. "This dormant patient activation campaign has been probably one of our most successful initiatives," Mr. Wells added. "Yes, there will be some revenue with that, but the big picture is that it will ultimately save lives."

By combining high-tech AI solutions with high-touch human interactions, health systems can deliver the digital-first personalized care that patients want. This can improve engagement, improve the patient experience, improve health outcomes and increase revenue.

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