1. All roads lead to “techquity”
Techquity took center stage at ViVE this year, and for good reason. Techquity is the fusion of technology, data, and health equity practices to reduce outcome disparities and systemic inequities. Sessions and conversations at ViVE 2023 focused on the idea that techquity has the potential to create a healthcare system that works better for all populations of the United States. We couldn’t agree more.
One of the many avenues toward achieving health equity is through addressing social determinants of health (SDoH), and techquity can be a means to drive visible change in the SDoH. Transportation issues are an aspect of the SDoH that can be positively impacted by technology. For Medicare Advantage and Medicaid plans embracing tech-enabled partnerships in NEMT, members have more reliable access to transportation, which can materially reduce overall healthcare costs and help improve outcomes.
While AI and Chat GPT-4 got plenty of buzz throughout the week, panelists underscored that a fundamental first step on the road to techquity is a commitment from health plans and systems to be more technology-enabled. As healthcare drives toward greater digitization, it’s important that the industry keeps health equity—and techquity— considerations top of mind.
2. Digital transformation is paramount
The consistent tone with session headliners like Amazon, UnitedHealth Group, and more was a consensus around the need for speed in innovation and creativity. Healthcare has long been a notoriously stagnant, antiquated industry, and recent waves of technological and digital investments can provide a springboard to help the industry move forward, faster. Panelists touched on investments in startups and improvements in organizational cultures as key steps to pursue.
In another nod to techquity, speakers also highlighted how aspects of our current healthcare system (such as booking appointments or getting to care) can be especially difficult for racial/ethnic minorities and unemployed individuals to navigate; these populations spend an average of nearly 30% longer getting medical care than other patients. By incorporating nimble, real-time solutions into the patient (and member) journey such as self-service ride booking portals and other digital solutions that make it easier to access care, we can personalize, simplify, and streamline the end-to-end experience. The era of connected health is upon us, and modern technology is integral for meeting members where they are—in NEMT and beyond.
3. Is it time to take the “tele” out of telehealth?
When gathering thousands of the brightest minds from across a range of healthcare and technology industries, telehealth is sure to come up. The question was posed: should telehealth still be considered as a deviation from healthcare? The popularity and use of telehealth and virtual care skyrocketed because of the pandemic, and are likely here to stay, but these modalities are often still referred to as separate from traditional healthcare.
Dr. Sean Kelly, Chief Medical Officer and SVP at Imprivata, put it well: “There’s no banking and telebanking… it’s just banking. So why do we talk about healthcare and telehealth?”
Whether a patient receives care via a traditional brick-and-mortar system, telehealth, or at-home healthcare, each approach is aimed at societal betterment and serves an equally important weight in the healthcare mix. For many, telehealth is health; at the same time, it can’t replace life-sustaining in-person care appointments and treatments—and there’s a digital divide that needs to close in communities across the country—but telehealth technology has tremendous benefits for patients and providers alike.
4. Navigating the digital healthcare revolution: putting patients first
The push for innovation should always be grounded in the goal of driving better health, improving outcomes, and lowering healthcare costs. Digital transformation and techquity are two important ways to do just that. Health plans must focus on both implementing technology that creates optimal patient experiences and navigating the changing policy and regulatory landscapes.
When the public health emergency (PHE) ends on May 11, health plans and millions of patients will be entering a new normal. The regulatory landscape for health plans has shifted, especially for Medicare and Medicaid Advantage (MA), because of redetermination. Special Needs Plans provide an open door for high-need Medicaid and MA beneficiaries who are expected to lose coverage during the PHE transition period to re-qualify for another public health plan.
At SafeRide, we see the digital healthcare revolution to be more of an evolution: a radical and rapid adoption of a more technology-enabled future. The health plans that proactively address transportation barriers will be at the forefront of creating a more level playing field across the SDoH domains. Joined with more techquity ideals at the helm, patients will be a driver instead of a passive rider in their healthcare experience.