Digital platforms: Agility to meet the needs of an evolving healthcare landscape

Across the healthcare system, digital platforms offer seemingly unlimited possibilities, such as better care experiences, timely disease management, and access to care. Carelon's Rajeev Ronanki spotlights those that can drive the most impact.

Healthcare has relied on legacy technologies that are a collection of disconnected services and data silos for too long, resulting in less-than-ideal experiences and poor health outcomes for many individuals. There is an urgency and opportunity to give consumers the healthcare experience they deserve – an experience they already have in other parts of their lives such as online trail and streaming services.  

That enhanced experience is powered by companies leveraging a platform strategy.

This approach can be applied to healthcare to create a digital platform for health that can make healthcare more personalized, predictive, and proactive. This also leads to more a nimble health industry that can meet consumer needs quicker, deliver higher quality experiences, and ultimately improve health outcomes.

 

Leveraging data is central to digital platforms

The purpose of the platform approach is to match users with service providers and facilitate the exchange of goods, thereby creating value for all participants, according to authors of The Platform Revolution. This model has revolutionized many industries, with a majority of the top 10 global companies — by market capitalization value — leveraging the platform as a central part of their business model.  

The power of the platform model comes from leveraging data to derive insights that help companies be more proactive. Understanding what consumers need and suppliers have helps companies curate the customer experience and offer the right services to the right people — when, where, and how they need them. In the context of healthcare, a platform-driven business will bring together clinical, social drivers of health, and consumer health data to provide data-driven, actionable insights, such as a likely increase in flu in a specific region of the country. This then allows the company to activate appropriate resources and work with its partners to implement strategies to mitigate a rise in flu cases – like promoting good hygiene and encouraging vaccinations.

For an individual, a health plan could leverage data and spot trends that suggest a person is increasingly likely to develop heart disease. As a lifetime, trusted health partner, the health plan could proactively send the member educational materials on cardiovascular health, suggest heart health programs, or pair the member with a care manager to help them navigate the healthcare system.

 

Digital platforms bring together the ecosystem 

The digital platform approach also brings innovation to healthcare much quicker because it gives platform companies more agility to adapt to changing needs. On one side, platform organizations have the option to build their own products and integrate those solutions into a suite of services. But at the same time, a platform business can quickly bring on innovative ideas and solutions from the outside ecosystem and offer these services to its stakeholders. Having the ability to plug in these services helps bypass some product development stages and brings those services to market sooner.

Another significant benefit of a platform is the ability to have a connected healthcare experience where consumers have access to the spectrum of care options – digital, virtual, and in-person – and their health data travels with them, giving providers a complete health history to make informed decisions.

For example, a person can open an AI-driven symptom checker tool to help figure out what may be going on with their health. Based on the information the person inputs in the app, the symptom checker shares what other people who presented with similar symptoms had, be it a cold or flu. The app then gives this person the option to have virtual care visit where the information they shared in the symptom checker is shared with the provider, eliminating the need for this person to repeat their symptoms. That virtual care doctor may say that the person needs in-person care. If that’s the case, the medical information from the symptom checker and virtual visit can be sent to the in-person doctor. This experience is a more seamless experience for the consumer.  

Improving people’s health and wellbeing should be the mission of all those engaged in healthcare. Healthcare works better when it’s more proactive in identifying what consumers need to be healthier. It’s also better for consumers when it’s a simpler experience, which happens when all parts work together in ways that are easier and more responsive for the people who depend on them. A digital platform for health makes what was previously thought of as impossible, a reality.

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