Hospitals, Patient Engagement

Allina Health to add ‘equity’ care guides, attack healthcare disparities

The goal: cut down on healthcare disparities in minority communities.

Technology is the ultimate healthcare buzzword. But when it comes to patient engagement solutions, the human touch remains critical.

Allina Health, which has spent a lot of time researching all types of lay healthcare workers, will add another kind of care guide to its lineup later this year.

Two “equity” care guides will join Allina Health to specifically focus on healthcare disparities, Melissa Hutchison, who leads the Care Copilot Institute and co-leads Health Economics and Program Evaluation for the Allina Health system, said earlier this week at MedCity ENGAGE,’s patient engagement conference.

Research into care guides, which are non-clinical staff who support patients but don’t dispense medical advice, is still early. But Allina has found that patients with care guides were 31 percent more likely to meet care goals than a typical patient. They were also 21 percent more likely to quit using of tobacco.

Early results into end-of-life care guides suggest that health systems could save $800 per patient per month, Hutchison said.

“It’s very early on and it’s a little scary to use the number,” she said. “But in reality that’s what they’re seeing.

“We can’t walk into a room right now in the current healthcare state we have and have somebody not ask about cost or value for anything,” she added.

The equity care guides should begin in a few months and will focus on African American and Hispanic patients. They will be paired with diabetes educators.

You can see Hutchison’s full MedCity ENGAGE interview here.

Photo: Flickr user DryHundredsFear