HealthLoop, the Mountain View, California-based doctor-patient communication startup, is looking for ways to make patient engagement pay. In addition to its recent team-up with a California malpractice insurer, the company has launched at least one payer pilot to try to demonstrate an ROI, founder Dr. Jordan Shlain reported at the Digital Healthcare Innovation Summit in Boston. They're also working on separate integrations with both Epic and Apple HealthKit.
"We’ve approached a large payer that’s doing a large study to ascertain whether these types of visits can catch things early and lower costs," Shlain said. He added that while there is a CPT code for e-visits, few insurers pay for them because there's no way to quantify outcome measures. "We’re trying to pioneer a way to create structured communication that can be measured. The functional unit of communication is ‘did you check in, did you read this, did you go to this link, did you answer these questions, did you hit send?’"
He said the program being investigated with the payer is called Pay for Engagement. "If you have hip surgery and I’m going to check in with you 30 times over 90 days, the physician actually collects $150 at the end of the 90 days if the patient checked in more than 50 percent of the time," he explained.
HealthLoop helps physicians to stay connected to their patients through mobile and web-based surveys, reminders, and bits of timely information tailored to their particular condition or treatment plan. Physicians get notified if patients are trending toward an undesirable outcome based on their responses or whether or not they are answering the questions at all.
The integration with Apple HealthKit will let HealthLoop start the move from manual patient-reported data to automatically collected data from devices.
"We started off with hip and knee surgeries as a first step with Apple HealthKit," Shlain explained. "Wound infections, fevers and even pneumonias post-operatively are pretty common. So we’ve intergrated with the step counter. If you ahve HealthLoop and you have a Fitbit or a Jawbone and you’ve just had hip surgery, the surgeon kind of wants to know about your actions over time. Whatever sensor you have, it has a data feed into HealthLoop. On a staff dashboard... you set the sensitivity for when you want the flag to go up from green to yellow."
Meanwhile, the Epic integration allows HealthLoop to send and receive its patient messages through Epic's portal, which improves the workflow for many doctors. That doesn't mean the data HealthLoop collects will necessarily be stored in Epic, which, Shlain said, doesn't have all the needed data fields.
HealthLoop has demonstrated an increase in patient satisfaction, Shlain said, and has good internal data on adherence -- 78 percent of users respond to automated check-in requests 100 percent of the time, and 87 percent of users avoided a phone call or office visit by using HealthLoop. But the company's just now starting to accrue the data doctors and payers want to see, via things like the payer pilot and the malpractice pilot. He said that accountable care is definitely carving out a place for patient engagement.
"The thing about ACOs is physicians get money and they’re held accountable for outcomes. So physicians are held accountable to patients, who aren’t accountable to anything. I mean in a sense they're accountable to their own outcomes, but I can get penalized if my patients don't do what I ask them to do. How can I be accountable to someone who’s not accountable? What HealthLoop does is it starts to get everyone to participate in getting the best outcome. If physicians can do it, and lower the cost, and potentially get a benefit from that, I think that’s what the future looks like."