Pursuing relentless innovation through healthcare technology

This year’s Accenture Digital Health Technology Vision touches on trends that aligned with Highmark Health’s mission to deliver value-based care. As an integrated delivery and financing system, we have an outstanding opportunity to take advantage of technology trends and test them out to see if they can deliver value to our patients and partners. We test cutting-edge healthcare solutions through the Highmark Health VITAL Innovation Program through which we partner with innovators to test, learn and understand the efficacy of technologies and think about how we can integrate them in our core business.

Companies are doing great work in healthcare and the technology space to evolve the customer experience. Let’s take a closer look at some of the innovations, and challenges, related to this year’s trends.

Citizen AI

We need to have good data to train AI. The VITAL program is currently testing YouScript’s, precision prescribing software, which helps patients who are taking a number of medications by evaluating the prescriptions and the patient’s genetic markers. When clinicians understand if those genetic markers interfere with prescribed medications, they can change the dosage outside of the standard protocol. But the system needs a good data set to inform the artificial intelligence used and to build trust with those making decisions.

Extended reality

Companies today are bridging the information gap, enabling physicians to improve care. HeartFlow is a great example. VITAL partnered with HeartFlow to test software that can model the patient’s coronary anatomy and create a personalized view of how blood is flowing. By seeing potential blood flow disruption, the physician can decide whether an invasive procedure is needed. In our six-month pilot, 71 percent of patients avoided an invasive angiogram, we saw 58 percent cost savings and no adverse events for patients who did not have the angiogram.

Data veracity

Inaccurate data leads to corrupted insights and skewed decisions. However, data quality can be a challenge for health plans built on legacy systems as data does not transfer easily from one system to the next. Even seemingly simple and common interactions like searching for an in-network doctor can be complicated by challenges with data veracity. If a health plan member makes a simple decision about where to go for care and it’s based on inaccurate data, their claim will be denied, creating a negative experience for that member and overhead in processing for the health plan. Quality is critical in everything from to day-to-day health insurance interactions to clinical decision making.

Frictionless business

Most businesses are not in a position to build everything that their customers need, so we have to find ways to partner with others. APIs make it much easier to partner through frictionless exchange of information. For instance, HM Health Solutions, Highmark Health’s IT solutions company, provides a software service platform for other Blues plans. We need to be able to easily exchange bi-directional data between our partners and our platform. Leveraging APIs gives us a scalable way to exchange data within systems and deliver better end-to-end experiences for our members and customers.

Internet of thinking

Another innovation we’re excited about is Freespira. VITAL has tested the company’s solution, which includes a tablet-based software program and a sensor that measures breathing (CO2 output) along with personalized training based on the data. The solution blends “edge computing” with “cloud computing” to provide instant feedback to the consumer on the edge of a panic attack. The information created gets periodically sent to the cloud for coach and clinician review and support. At 12 months post-treatment, 81% of patients reported no panic attacks and Freespira is now a covered service being offered to patients at Allegheny Health Network in Western Pennsylvania.

There are so many exciting changes happening in healthcare. At Highmark Health, we look forward to continuing to test and pilot new technologies that can truly make a difference in the lives of patients and members. To learn more about the VITAL Innovation Program.

Stacy Byers

Vice President – Customer Experience, Highmark Health


Digital Health Tech Vision 2019
Accenture Digital Health Technology Vision 2021

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