Earlier this year, the TIL Virtual Health team participated in the 11th annual Rock Health Summit. The half-day event brought together diverse minds from technology, medicine, and public health for inspired conversations, connections, and collaboration. Numerous insights emerged from this year’s summit but most were rooted in extending better healthcare to all patients. “All patients” means the mothers who work 60-hour work weeks and can’t take off for checkups, the rural and indigenous patients who can’t afford to drive three-plus hours to get vital specialty care, and the growing elderly and chronic needs population who want better solutions than being confined to a cold hospital room. These patients who have traditionally been out of reach because of social, economic, or geographic barriers need better solutions. Furthermore, the systems that hope to survive the growing pressures of staffing shortages and an unpredictable economy, while keeping up with value-based care mandates, are redesigning the way they deliver healthcare. At the Rock Health Summit, health-tech leaders proposed multiple ways to fulfill the promise of competent care for all. Below are three ways leaders from the Rock Health Summit are making good on their promise.
Holistic Care and Prevention
Providers, payers, and employers are thinking creatively to keep their employees and patients out of the hospital. High-needs patients are often subject to a vicious cycle of readmissions due to social and behavioral factors such as diet, stress management, and exercise. According to the USDA Economic Research Service, food insecurity in the United States in 2019 was 10.5%. The rates of food insecurity among racial/ethnic minority groups were higher than the US mean rate, at 22.5% among Black populations and 18.5% among Hispanic populations. Additionally, patients who are malnourished are 50% more likely to be readmitted or die within 100 days post-discharge.
Rock Health panelist and Nutrible CEO Kwamane Liddell works with hospitals to prescribe food plans that can be delivered directly to the patient’s home. Liddell’s previous experience as a stroke nurse gave him an intimate understanding of the socio-economic challenges that stand between his patients and their health, so he launched Nutrible to ensure patients have access to food regardless of their income, ethnic background, health literacy status, or physical ability.
Health Data and AI Solutions
As we move away from the idea that healthcare is only delivered within clinics and hospital rooms, tech companies are engineering smart sensors and solutions that will make synchronous healthcare and precision medicine a reality. Although modern technology has made a lot of these smart solutions feasible, the deployment of these solutions hinges on the availability of one of the most valuable resources of the 21st century: data. Without representative data to train these AI models, many of these solutions will fail to serve all patients. Most currently available health data is skewed to disproportionately represent wealthier, educated, white, male patients and does not paint a complete picture.
Federal initiatives like the NIH’s All of Us, a program that aims to collect 1 million patient records to create a representative database and accelerate health innovation, is one effort dedicated to solving this problem. At the Rock Health Summit, TIL Virtual Health Associate Sahee Abdelmomin shed some light on the holistic health data collection efforts that are happening in the Tulsa region.
Abdelmomin shared how Oklahoma’s state health information exchange, MyHealth Access Network, is working towards becoming the country’s first virtual health network to provide universal social needs screenings for all patients. This initiative began in 2018 with two Tulsa clinics that conducted a survey assessing food, living, utility, safety and transportation need scores. Today the program has collected SDOH data from 500,000 patients from over 100 clinics in the state of Oklahoma. The aim of the program is to make it easier for patients to access the appropriate social services but its utility does not end there. This type of inter-connected data architecture will pave the way for smarter health technology solutions that can provide culturally and socially sensitive outputs, recommendations, and prescriptions.
Community Trust and Access
Walgreens Boots Alliance is taking a stab at addressing the health data deficit. By leveraging the trust it has built with under-resourced communities through their stores, Walgreens launched a clinical trials business to address the lack of diversity in health data. Considering that 51% of Walgreens stores are in socially vulnerable areas, Walgreens is including communities that have been traditionally ignored by medicine and academia. While some groups are leveraging existing trust to reach all patients and push the needle of innovation, others are connecting previously desperate provider havens.
Panelist and founder of Health in Her Hue, Ashlee Wisdom is improving patient-provider trust by connecting traditionally underserved patients with an existing culturally competent provider. By leveraging technology and community, Health in Her Hue is reducing racial health disparities and empowering women of color to make informed health choices while innovating around the health issues that disproportionately affect them.
Increasing patient agency and representation are only a few of the ways organizations are reimagining inclusive healthcare design. To learn more about how industry leaders are redesigning healthcare for all check out Rock Health Summit page and YouTube.