This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Two outstanding trends from the past decade have been a pendulum swing in patient priorities toward consumerism and leaps in demand for at-home care — presenting providers with both challenges and opportunities to adapt to new normals.
As the industry continues to face sea changes, it increasingly looks to technology for answers to some of its most pressing issues. But what does it mean to effectively use digital health to augment care delivery — especially in alternative care settings? And how does that relate to its development?
In this episode of the Memora Health Care Delivery Podcast, our guest Kevin Riddleberger, Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer at DispatchHealth, explains why the at-home care market is ripe for innovation, what role digital health can play in improving it, and why clinicians are invaluable for effective healthtech creation.
Digital health can help reinforce care delivery in alternative settings
Though moderately paced when it comes to innovation, healthcare is a rapidly evolving industry with several shifting, fragmented parts. As a result, various issues can arise as a technologically steady segment meets urgent demand for change. And that’s what spurred DispatchHealth to take form.
Riddleberger remarks, “In healthcare, there are so many problems to be solved. You could pick a statistic that’s out there and build a company around it … From the cost and quality and experience standpoint, we saw market research that we were going to see a shift in care … We saw the home as a place where individuals would see care more frequently.”
The central value to all stakeholders across healthcare — patients, payors, providers, etc. — is DispatchHealth’s streamlined and digitized approach to care delivery in the at-home setting. Riddleberger suggests this digital-first strategy could help mitigate unnecessary ED visits and provide better care support for aging populations.
He expands, “Depending on the statistic you want to look at, 37%-70% of individuals that are in the ER really don’t need to be in the ER based on their clinical acuity. How do we right-size the needs of the patient? [Some of] that was being done through urgent care, but we wanted to push the experience. We saw the rise in aging populations, and many of these individuals aren’t going to urgent care … How could we flip that care delivery mechanism and meet the patient where they’re at?”
Digital care management helps improve patient experience and control costs
There’s no doubt that unnecessary trips to the hospital can adversely affect both patients and providers. But apart from promoting better health outcomes, a digital-first approach to at-home care, Riddleberger proposes, could also help foster better patient experience.
He explains, “We’ve had over a million patient encounters in the home … We’ve had hundreds of thousands patient reviews and surveys indicating an NPS consistently in the 96 range … Typically, healthcare is in that 20-40 NPS range … As we scale across the country, no matter what demographic we’re treating … they love receiving care in the home.”
As patients have better healthcare experiences through digital-first programs, they’re more likely to confidently self-manage and put more trust in their care guidelines. Furthermore, shifting care delivery to the at-home setting with the right digital technology can help control costs.
The most effective digital healthcare advancements like intelligent care enablement platforms carefully balance the needs of patients, providers, and the greater healthcare ecosystem at large to improve care delivery across the board.
Clinicians are playing an increasingly important role in digital healthcare
If innovative solutions don’t account for intricate and intersecting considerations needed to deliver high-quality care, they’re unlikely to solve the industry’s most pressing challenges — and they might even exacerbate them.
That’s why it’s increasingly important for clinical professionals to be actively involved not just in testing technology — but also in creating the technologies themselves. Riddelberger says, “We need to make sure that we can tap into [clinicians’] experiences and expertise to apply to innovation and apply to new product development internally. And the more that we do, we start to get that right.”
“We’ve now been getting more and more clinicians involved in creating new delivery models … but also in startups and putting their knowledge to work.”
- Kevin Riddleberger, co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer, DispatchHealth
With their unique insider perspectives, healthcare professionals can play a critical role when they work hand-in-glove with technology experts to bring innovations to life. “[Software developers and product managers] may not understand the complexities of healthcare. But we can be right next to them and advise them about what’s good, what’s bad, how to A/B test, how do we learn together, and be able to instill rapid improvement into the products we’re delivering,” Riddleberger adds.
That’s why forward-thinking innovators like Memora Health boast a deep bench of clinical experts tasked with co-developing, testing, and building out information systems to ensure maximum clinical relevancy and usability. And as healthcare professionals get a bigger seat at the table during healthtech development, emerging technologies can more efficiently improve care delivery while taking a greater consideration for clinical workflows.