A Year of Progress and a Commitment to Population Health

This January, Get Well marked the one year anniversary of the acquisition of Docent Health, a core part of a multi-year strategy and internal investments to expand Get Well’s offering with robust solutions for ambulatory, population health, and payer clients.

Building off Get Well’s 20 years of healthcare innovation in patient interactive care, we’ve added new digital patient navigation solutions that enable us to expand the reach of the platform, widen the network of healthcare organizations we help, and improve the overall experience of people as they navigate their individual pathways to health and wellness. 

We’ve spent the last year, integrating our teams and products, talking with market leaders, and laying the groundwork for a new set of solutions that help our clients ensure all people have access to the right resources at the right time and receive the highest quality care possible. Here are a couple key takeaways as we look back and forward:

Mobile-first, personalized care improves population health

Across the past year, a number of healthcare organizations have put a stake in the ground regarding their commitment to focusing on community health and improving the healthcare consumer experience. In particular, the issue of health equity — heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic — is finally getting some of the attention it deserves. 

One of our most proud moments and evidence that the country is taking health equity seriously happened in December 2021. The White House issued a nationwide Call to Action to improve health outcomes for parents and infants in the United States. In doing so, they spotlighted several organizations that are leading the charge, including CommonSpirit Health, who highlighted its partnership with GetWell to pair virtual care guides with patients pre and post maternal care episodes to improve length of stay and preterm birth outcomes.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the healthcare industry also experienced a growing awareness of the importance of behavioral health to overall health and wellness. Increasingly, organizations are recognizing the need to deliver enhanced behavioral health care — especially among young people. Given that nearly 10% of young people in the United States report experiencing severe depression, tools that can drive personalized digital and human touchpoints to people in need bridge a critical gap — a gap filled by the Scout by Sutter Health™ virtual patient navigation platform, which is powered by GetWell.

Large institutions like Adventist Health, a faith-based, nonprofit integrated health system serving more than 80 communities on the West Coast and Hawaii, have also made commitments to improve health equity among underserved populations. Adventist Health is leveraging Get Well’s full suite of products to ensure people in the community it serves have a consistently high-quality healthcare experience. Get Well’s scalable, personalized, and consumer-centric technology will also ensure Adventist Health is able to expand access to its services, improving support to at-risk populations.  

Get Well expands its offering to plans and at-risk providers

The healthcare industry has long attempted efforts aimed at improving population health. But barriers to communication, access, and engagement continue to provide challenges to getting accurate information in front of people so that they can make the most informed decisions about their healthcare. 

For years now, health plans and at-risk providers have focused a largely human based care management model on engaging the highest cost patients. But they lack the tools needed to expand these costly services to mid- and rising-risk patients. Pre-emptive screening, engagement, and navigation to preventative services and resources is critical to continuing to scalable, cost effective at-risk models. 

Doubling down on the mission to deliver “personalized care to all” and facilitate improvements in population health, Get Well’s digital navigation solution helps at-risk entities tech-enable and scale their programs to vastly larger portions of the population. Delivering the right support at the right time and escalating clinical needs into the care teams allowing them to practice at the top of their license. 

This allows organizations to improve operational efficiency and realize improvements in areas like annual wellness visit completions, CAHPS responses, HEDIS® scores, and Star ratings.  It allows them to longitudinally screen for behavioral and SDoH and referrals to key resources just in time and ultimately lower the total cost of care.

Get Well’s digital navigation solution leverages AI-texting and digital tools that are accessible to a large segment of the population enabling organizations to reach more people, especially those underserved. It also reduces the response burden from providers and care management teams by leveraging digital tools to guide people through various episodes or care, guiding those who are at risk or may soon be at risk to clinical care teams when most appropriate. 

A focus on staff efficiency 

The COVID-19 pandemic has stressed the financials of provider organizations and many have looked to diversify their business model with more investments in value-based care. However, many organizations have limited care management resources, staffing shortages and team burnout which hinder their ability to move past the more traditional fee-for-service model. 

While adoption of value-based care among traditional Medicare and Medicare Advantage is around 40% and 53%, respectively, adoption among Medicaid and commercial payers is much lower, at 23% and 30%. It is easy to understand why management of patients at higher risk — who thus often require higher-cost care — might be an easier task. However, true improvements at the community and population level will only be made when organizations are able to more proactively reach patients upon the initial signs of risk escalation. 

This means reaching people before they require high-cost care. Digital consumer navigation through readily accessible technology means that people can receive the information they need to make informed decisions about their care, helping them to avoid unnecessary encounters by encouraging them to seek preventive services. Providing more efficient utilization of the critical  care team staff that are in place today.

Human-centered design to address SDOH and health equity

For organizations that are looking to disrupt their staffing model, Get Well also offers staff augmentation in the form of community-based virtual care navigators. Extensions of a traditional care team that are hired from and reflective of the communities they serve. A service that improves trust and engagement with underserved and at-risk communities is an effective element to a holistic health equity strategy. 

While digital health tools like texting reach many people and are often how people prefer to receive communication, knowing when to bring in humans to help guide people through the healthcare experience is what often makes the greatest impact and sets the standard for delivering personalized care. Get Well’s alternative staffing solutions rely on automated and live texting to cover the last mile to engage hard-to-reach communities. 

DBuilding trusted relationships and established channels for communications allows us to increase the frequency of screenings for social determinants of health, behavioral health risk and care coordination trigger human intervention when most needed. Asking the right questions can help bring non-clinical needs to the forefront and help people find resources — such as healthy food, a safe place to live, or counseling services — that benefit their health and wellbeing. 

These teams are racially, ethnically, and culturally reflective of the communities they serve, which helps people feel more comfortable and more likely to engage. This alternative team model enables higher cost, clinically oriented teams to operate at the top of their license and helps drive key preventive services and improvements in health equity.

Leveraging human touch points to guide patients and support care delivery further accelerates value-based care and enables organizations to operate more cost-effectively while at the same time delivering on the promise of personalized, effective, efficient, and equal care. 

Bottom line: Digital consumer navigation is a no regrets strategy

To most effectively drive improvements in population health, organizations can not solely focus on those individuals who are already sick or in need of care. Encouraging people to attend wellness visits and screening checks, in addition to providing digital and human touch points during care episodes is the best way to broadly and cost effectively engage whole populations — and in turn, improve the health of whole populations.  

Get Well’s human-centered design approach leverages multiple channels to maximize engagement, with digital tools providing opportunities for patient monitoring and self-guided care management, empowering people to make better, more informed decisions about their healthcare — something many people crave and are increasingly seeking

We are excited for this next phase for GetWell as we expand our support to clients managing the health and health risk of our communities. We know that digital consumer navigation — connections to the right services at the right time — has the power to transform the healthcare experience, boost outcomes, and improve overall population health. It’s a bet we made last year and one that we’re digging deeper into this year. The result will be healthier communities and equitable care for all.

About the Author
Royal Tuthill, GM, Ambulatory and Population Health at Get Well, is responsible for driving continued growth and financial performance of Get Well’s Ambulatory business unit. With more than 15 years of experience in healthcare innovation and business strategy, he brings a wealth of knowledge to bear on consumer engagement, product development, and population health.