Throughout our series, we’ve talked about our approach to Digital in healthcare, as well as specific products we’ve built to serve our patients. What we’ve described, which encompasses the work of over three years for the Providence St. Joseph Health (PSJH) Digital team, has been focused on the key theme of growing PSJH through better access, convenience, and personalization. Express Care, Circle, and our digital marketing efforts have all been aimed at providing patients with access to alternative modalities of care and personalized experiences delivered to patients. In markets where these products have been deployed, we’ve seen growth in bringing in new patients or retaining existing ones, thereby growing our footprint. Our work on access, convenience, and personalization will continue through ongoing development of products to create frictionless patient experiences and personalized platforms.
This year, we’ve embarked upon 5 additional digital journeys, for a total of six digital journeys in addition to our focus on access and personalization, which seek to address a broader set of strategic problems for different patient populations. Each of the journeys represents a 5-10 year path we’ll be traveling to digitally transform our organization across key themes. Our Six Digital Journeys are:
- Access and Personalization (covered in prior posts)
- Simplifying Care
- Make Caregiving Easier
- Better Serve Medicaid
- Power Behavioral Health
- Enable New Revenue Streams
Growth through access, convenience, and personalization is a great first step in digitally enabling our health system to deliver modernized, frictionless care to our patients. However, that’s not where we stop. It is still difficult for our patients to navigate the system when they’re seeking care for more complex cases than low-acuity primary care. In effect, we expect our patients to do the work of being their own “general contractors” for their care when all they want to do is buy the house. We aim to change that by simplifying the care experience for our patients through digital pathways, self-management tools, educational content, ready access to their providers through virtual visits, simplified billing, medication management, and access to non-clinical services, all served up in a contextually relevant way. The goal is to deliver a better patient experience when patients are interacting with us around specific planned encounters.
Make Caregiving Easier
As we’ve talked about in a previous piece, the only members of the value chain who ultimately matter in healthcare are patients and caregivers. It is our job to make their interactions simple and frictionless. Providing better access and simplifying care are patient-focused journeys. With increasing regulation on providers and increased documentation resulting from regulations, providers are burdened in ways that they haven’t been in the past. We’ve identified the need to make our providers’ lives easier by deploying digital tools that enable them to communicate and collaborate more readily, reduce the amount of time they spend in front of the screen doing documentation, and enable them to close care gaps for their patient panels in a more streamlined way. The goal is to enable our providers to spend more time focusing on what we call ‘the sacred encounter’ with their patients, while also maintaining high quality of life and reducing clinician burnout. Initially, we’re looking at two areas: automation of documentation in the EMR and inbox management. We will be looking at other areas of opportunity to make caregiver’s lives easier as we move further into this journey.
Better Serve Medicaid
Effectively caring for Medicaid patients poses unique challenges for most health systems throughout the country, and PSJH is no different. As a mission-based, non-profit health system, we are unequivocally committed to caring for the people in our communities who are beneficiaries of Medicaid. However, we recognize that we can do more to better care for Medicaid patients via innovation. Our initial focus is on helping patients navigate our sites of care so Medicaid patients don’t need to use the ED for low-complexity conditions because of access challenges. The challenges that Medicaid patients face, and the health services implications, are complex and multi-faceted. By focusing on a narrow use case of patients using the ED for low-acuity services, we aim to learn more about digitally engaging with our Medicaid populations as the foundation for deeper engagement and service to a population that has received sub-optimal care for many years.
Power Behavioral Health
Mental illness is incredibly prevalent and often untreated, with tragic consequences on individuals and families. Addiction is similarly prevalent, causing tens of thousands of deaths every year in the US. Digital tools are uniquely positioned to tackle many behavioral health challenges including stigma, low supply of caregivers, and lack of screening. Digital tools can address these challenges in an efficient, scalable way by providing knowledge and information, arming patients and providers with decision-making tools, and facilitating coordination and communication. We believe that Digital platforms and tools can help support an effective system of behavioral health care integrated with our broader system, where patients are empowered and connected, providers feel capable and supported, families and caregivers are engaged, and clinicians are effectively leveraged.
Enable New Revenue Streams
With downward pressure on reimbursement an inevitability that has already begun hitting health systems, PSJH is committed to exploring new business models and new or incremental sources of revenue for the system. There are three primary categories that the Digital team at PSJH will be exploring:
- New Clinical Revenue Streams: One example of new revenue is via an investment Providence Ventures recently made in a company called Intelligent Retinal Imaging Systems (IRIS). Founded in 2011 by leading retina surgeon Dr. Sunil Gupta, IRIS develops and deploys reliable, easy-to-use diabetic retinopathy screening services in the primary care setting. These screenings can generate incremental revenue by increasing the appropriate populations that are covered.
- Product Revenue: There are many opportunities to generate revenue by selling relevant and helpful products and services to our customers directly. These value-added services contribute to the overall patient experience by supplementing the patient care delivery experience with other resources that patients need, such as medical supplies, or post-surgical packages that help in recovery.
- Commercialization of Technology: PSJH Digital believes not only in building technology where there are lack of feasible solutions in the market, but also building sustainable business models. One way in which we can create sustainable business models is by selling our technology to others who are seeking to solve the same big problems we are. Xealth was the first example of commercialization of a company incubated within PSJH. In the coming year, we are working toward plans for commercialization of other PSJH Digital incubated platforms.
Next time, in the last piece of our series, we’ll provide our thoughts on how other health systems, large and small, can disrupt their own business models and forge a more secure path in an uncertain future.
Aaron Martin is Executive Vice President and Chief Digital Officer for Providence St. Joseph Health (PSJH), and Managing General Partner forProvidence Ventures (PV). Aaron is responsible for the digital, web, mobile, and online marketing channel for PSJH.
Sara Vaezy is the Chief Digital Strategy Officer for PSJH. Sara leads the development of the digital strategy and roadmap, digital partnerships and business development, and technology evaluation and pilots.