3 Ways digital health can help mitigate unnecessary risk and cost
Healthcare risk management week
June 22, 2021

At Wellth, we believe in leading together. 

This week, Wellth joins its healthcare partners in celebrating Healthcare Risk Management Week—taking place June 18th-25th, 2021. This annual campaign from the American Society for Healthcare Risk Management (ASHRM) raises awareness about the critical role healthcare risk managers and safety professionals play in patient safety, patient care practices, quality assurance, safe work environments, and liability.

In addition, the week seeks to highlight and promote solutions that help address common patient safety events. It also promotes solutions to help prevent some of the most common patient safety events. The theme this year “Prepared for the Present, Planning for the Future” aims to celebrate the hard work of risk management professionals over the last year—while calling to attention the need for improving frameworks around what’s to come. 

In honor of Healthcare Risk Management Week, we’re outlining three ways that digital health companies can help support healthcare systems in risk management strategies. 

Moving outside the scope of traditional risk management

While risk often is associated with specific “risk management” and “patient safety” roles and titles, each individual and organization in the healthcare space can play an important role in promoting safe and trusted health care. In addition, we all have a responsibility—health plans, providers, and supporting digital health organizations alike—to evaluate current practices, statistics, and trends and make adjustments to ensure a better future for the members and patients in our care. 

Digital health platforms specifically can be key partners in reducing risk by empowering health plans and providers to improve the quality of care given upfront. 

Improving care through preventative measures 

Physician talks with older male patient

Traditional risk management involves balancing organizational clinical, risk financing, regulatory and business issues. But even perfectly compliant healthcare systems can find themselves facing lower-than ideal member outcomes. Why? 

Patient safety, while critical, is not a clear indicator of health outcomes. Ensuring proper preventative measures are taken—such as routine check-ups, eye exams, or mammograms—in addition to following established protocols can significantly improve patient outcomes and help organizations succeed at the ultimate goal of risk management: identifying a potential problem before it occurs and taking preventive measures to help address or minimize it. 

Understanding this, many health plans and providers proactively encourage such preventative care—including offering partial or full coverage for preventative visits. Still, a 2018 study conducted by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality found that only 8 percent of adults in the U.S. receive all recommended high-priority preventative care. Furthermore, only 22 percent receive at least 76 percent of recommended care, 16 percent receive half, and 5 percent receive no preventative care at all. 

Digital health platforms can help bridge this gap by offering personalized nudges that are designed to speak to individual motivators, incentive action, and improve adherence. For example, in a program designed to help members with behavioral health conditions improve care plan adherence, nudging and incentivizing members to attend recommended behavioral and physical health appointments resulted in 100 percent attendance to behavioral health appointments and 93 percent adherence to prescribed physical health appointments as well. 

Read the case study

Improving adherence to care plans 

Healthy foods and exercise equipment

According to ASHRM, “safe and trusted health care means saving lives and mitigating risks.” 

While there are many ways to accomplish this, many of them start with ensuring patients and members follow prescribed care and medication plans. Without adherence, even the most effective medication or care regimen will be rendered ineffective—leading not only to risk of high cost utilization and possible CMS penalties, but reduced patient outcomes. 

Digital health platforms like Wellth can be effective in increasing care plan adherence for daily tasks such as medication adherence, glucometer checks, weigh-ins, diet, and more. This day-to-day habit building becomes especially important, as it’s these seemingly-small daily activities that end up compounding over time to achieve significant outcomes in reduced risk of complications. 

Case study: RCT on adherence with University of Pennsylvania

Individuals with Acute Coronary Syndrome are at high risk for health complications, hospital admissions and readmissions, and other high-cost utilization. The right daily care regimen, however, can significantly reduce this risk. 

In a randomized controlled trial conducted by the University of Pennsylvania, members enrolled in the Wellth program received nudges to complete daily medication adherence check-ins for a small incentive. At the end of the trial, Wellth members achieved 90 percent daily adherence, and experienced a 45 percent reduction in readmissions compared to the control group. 

Read the full case study.

Providing personalized support to improve outcomes 

Healthcare risk managers today wear many hats—and are frequently expected to interact and communicate effectively with a variety of people under challenging, unique, complex, and often tense circumstances.

Supplementing their efforts with multilingual and multicultural support teams that are likewise built and trained to work with a variety of populations in difficult or marginalized situations can be effective in building trust and improving relationships for better outcomes. Since supplying a team to follow-up with each and every individual can be time consuming, utilizing digital platforms that flag individuals who might be struggling for more targeted follow-up can make offering personalized support easier, more effective, and affordable for better overall outcomes.