Emmi Solutions: ‘People are the most underutilized resource’ in healthcare

Emmi Solutions, a Chicago-based healthcare communications company that was founded in 2002, is looking to tap into what much of the healthcare industry as a whole has overlooked in improving outcomes and costs: the patients themselves. While new forms of patient engagement continue to emerge, much of it through new forms of technology and a […]

Emmi Solutions, a Chicago-based healthcare communications company that was founded in 2002, is looking to tap into what much of the healthcare industry as a whole has overlooked in improving outcomes and costs: the patients themselves.

While new forms of patient engagement continue to emerge, much of it through new forms of technology and a seismic shift toward consumer-driven models in healthcare, Emmi CEO Devin Gross said the company has a straightforward foundation: “The fundamental belief that people are the most underutilized resource in the health care system,” he said.

Emmi, with about 130 employees, recently struck a collaboration with health IT company RightCare, for which it will offer a content tool to help patients better understand their care plans and conditions.

MedCity News picked the brain of Gross about Emmi’s current operation, how it’s leveraging technology and how it’s applying its model in the current healthcare setting.

Describe Emmi Solution’s business model and what part of the healthcare sector you’re targeting. Who is the target customer?

We develop multi-modal interactive programs that effectively engage and empower people to take a more active role in their care. Using a combination of empathetic narration, text and animation, our personalized programs and call campaigns help people make sense of complex medical information. Our solutions are prescribed by healthcare professionals such as doctors, nurses or care coordinators. We sell directly into health systems, hospitals and payers. It is an interesting time for us as our solutions help support healthcare systems’ transition to a “Fee for Value” model.

Patient engagement is all encompassing. Can you provide an example of how you work with a health system?

Patient engagement is composed of many parts: reminders, calls to action, expectation setting, shared decision making, and education. Ultimately, organizations are focused on engagement because they want to drive a behavior change in an individual and then measure if the desired results were accomplished.

An example of the impact of our solutions is a research project that Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center conducted. The challenge for the organization was to reduce patient anxiety and improve education about what to expect before, during and after a colonoscopy. First-time colonoscopy patients often arrive anxious and unsure about the procedure or don’t show up at all.

Researchers conducted a randomized controlled study investigating the impact of an interactive web-based multimedia program on patient anxiety, perception and knowledge of colonoscopy. Fifty-one patients were given DHMC’s standard printed pre-procedure colonoscopy packet, while 52 patients watched the web-based Emmi Solutions’ colonoscopy program, in addition to receiving the same packet.

On the day of the colonoscopy, prior to the procedure, participants in both groups were asked to fill out a survey to assess their knowledge of colonoscopy, their emotional state prior to the procedure and their understanding of potential outcomes. The average procedure time and amount of pain medication administered were also measured.

Patients who viewed the Emmi program prior to their procedure had decreased anxiety, lower sedation medication requirements and shorter procedure times, compared with those who only received the standard printed pre-procedure packet. Researchers concluded the Emmi program not only increased patient knowledge and comfort levels, but may also lead to increased organizational efficiency and lower costs by saving staff time and using lower doses of sedative medications.

How do you measure success? Prevented hospital readmission? Improved reimbursement for the health system/hospital?

We measure success through business outcomes achieved and patient satisfaction (proven by people’s direct feedback that is captured by our solutions and standardized surveys like HCAHPs). Business outcomes can include reducing hospital readmissions, increasing staff efficiency, decreasing no-show rates or facilitating the scheduling of preventative care appointments which all lead back to better financial results for our clients.

We track and document interactions with patients, so we’re able to provide very targeted insights to our clients on how their communities are engaging with our programs and if they need to adjust individual care approaches to accommodate people’s varying situations, whether a person may have additional questions to feel comfortable, needs additional specialized follow up or is exhibiting signs of potential readmission. Our solutions are easily integrated into EHRs and other platforms for better back-end insights for providers and ease of information delivery to the patient. We help address gaps in communication and provide clarity around factors that were previously difficult to track.

Are there any particular conditions that you’re targeting? Which ones and why those?

Our programs are built to solve real business issues by enhancing engagement and empowering people to be active participants in their health. We support communications across the entire continuum from home to admission to procedure to discharge to follow up. While we continue to target an array of chronic conditions, surgical events and wellness, we also offer additional tools related purely to patient satisfaction and cost containment like advance care planning and end of life decisions, transitions between care settings and population-based wellness efforts such as screenings.

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