Hospitals, Health IT, Patient Engagement

UnityPoint Health, b.well Connected Health partner to implement digital-first consumer strategy

The Iowa-based health system will leverage b.well Connected Health’s platform and services to enable patients to view and share their health data. The platform will also allow patients to access all of UnityPoint’s digital tools in one location.

UnityPoint Health is undergoing an extensive digital transformation, and it has engaged health technology company b.well Connected Health to facilitate its efforts.

The Des Moines, Iowa-based health system, which includes 20 regional and 19 community network hospitals, 400 physician clinics and accountable care organization UnityPoint Accountable Care, is pivoting to a digital-first consumer strategy.

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“The necessity of this approach was underscored by the pandemic when digital tools became key in providing patients the care they needed in a safe, accessible way,” said Matthew Warrens, managing director of innovation at UnityPoint Health, in an email. “Easy to use digital tools reduce inefficiencies and fragmentation – making care more personal, proactive and convenient.”

Baltimore-based b.well Connected Health offers a software-as-a-service technology platform that will provide the building blocks for UnityPoint Health’s digital-first strategy.

The company’s platform gathers patient health data — collecting the information from providers, payers, pharmacies, labs and wearables — and enables the patient to share their data whoever they want.

“It’s all about consumers being in charge,” said Kristen Valdes, founder and CEO of b.well Connected Health, in a phone interview. “But we don’t just give them access to their data, we also wrap useful information around it at a fourth-grade reading level. So [we] are trying to improve education around what health data means.”

For example, if the platform is showing a longitudinal trend line for every time a patient has had their cholesterol measured, the patient will be told not only what is being tested, but also why it is being tested, what part of the body is being tested, and so on, Valdes added.

Further, b.well will give patients access to all of UnityPoint’s digital solutions in one place, including appointment scheduling services, billing and insurance information, active medication lists, refill requests and telehealth visits, in addition to their entire medical record and health history.

UnityPoint Health expects the digital transformation, powered by b.well, to encourage Medicare beneficiaries to align with UnityPoint Accountable Care as the ACO transitions to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ direct contracting model. The model will test a regional approach to value-based care for Medicare beneficiaries.

“Direct contracting is Medicare’s way of taking the 50%+ of Medicare beneficiaries that are still not enrolled in a value-based contract through Medicare Advantage and effectively putting them in a value-based arrangement,” Valdes said. “But what’s unique about this program is that it requires the consumer, the Medicare beneficiary, to say ‘I believe that this doctor and/or this system is going to be the doc that takes care of me.’ And so, the consumer gets to decide who gets access to their healthcare premium dollar.”

The b.well platform aims to drive consumer loyalty, which can help the health system retain Medicare beneficiaries in its ACO as it transitions to the direct contracting model.

In addition to the transition, the health system expects “the convenience of the all-in-one platform, [will lead to] an increase in virtual visit utilization, reduced call center volumes, and a higher percentage of closed care gaps,” UnityPoint’s Warrens said.

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