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Enhancing Access to Care through Technology


 

MyHealthDirect Connects Patients, Providers

It's no secret that healthcare technology can generate a love-hate relationship among providers and patients alike. Navigating EHRs, patient health portals and interoperability challenges can make or break a practice or health system, as consumer expectations continue to rise. That's where MyHealthDirect is making a difference. Founded in 2006 in Milwaukee and relocated to Nashville in 2014, the company utilizes digital care coordination through a guided search and scheduling platform to make it easier to access healthcare.


Keeping Up

"Unfortunately, healthcare today lags behind so many other industries when it comes to looking for and consuming services," said MyHealthDirect CEO Tom Cox. "We're bringing it up to speed, because today's consumers naturally go online first. It's what we do in the rest of our lives, and healthcare is no exception."


Tom Cox

Since 80 percent of healthcare consumers shop online before making a decision, MyHealthDirect makes it easier to connect patients to providers. While allowing patients to schedule their own appointments might sound simple enough, the process requires an incredible amount of detail to land the right patients in the right office.

"When you're a new patient, you get a series of questions that qualify you to book," Cox explained, noting providers often don't want to risk using an appointment slot when need and service availability don't align. "Most software programs don't have the ability to ask qualifying questions and guide patients to the right physicians, so that's where we come into play. It's really one of our biggest differentiators."


Asking More Questions

MyHealthDirect's sophisticated decision support criterion asks a series of questions to guide the user to that right place. And in today's prevention-focused age of healthcare, that user might be the consumer, call center agent or even the health plan agent. That's because health plans are now assisting providers and patients by facilitating preventive and maintenance appointments, including annual A1C screenings for diabetics. "Someone who hasn't been screened in two years will require more healthcare in the next year than someone who's a well maintained diabetic, so we're helping them close those gaps by showing availability and access to appointments," Cox said.

In the past, health plan involvement would require a lengthy three-way phone call between the agent, provider and patient. Through MyHealthDirect, the health plan agent can book the appointment in minutes, as if sitting in the physician's office. The member gets an email confirmation along with a follow-up reminder 24 hours before, leading to a higher probability of attending the appointment and closing gaps in care.

"The member leads a healthier life and costs less to the healthcare system, and the provider got the appointment at a lower cost because they weren't paying someone in their office to answer phones," Cox said, noting the software eliminates one-third of scheduling calls to a center. "What I love about this business is that it's a win-win-win."

Still, fear of landing the wrong patients in the wrong slots often keeps providers from adopting the software full throttle at first. Cox said many ask to start slowly with a limited number of slots before rolling it out system wide. Worry about replacing trusted schedulers can cause panic to providers, as well. However, Cox noted the system is intended to support in-office schedulers, not replace them. "When your scheduler is on vacation, you'll still get bookings," he said. "And when he's home in the evenings, you'll get them because you're giving qualified patients 24/7 access to book with your practice."


Revenue & Savings

New patient revenue is the strongest incentive for many MyHealthDirect clients, as each clinician typically sees a gain of three to four new patients per month. The fact that growing practices don't need to hire additional call center staff is another cost savings benefit for providers. Clients in all 50 states are now utilizing the system.


Looking Forward

As more communities, providers and payers realize the necessity of addressing social determinants of health, Cox said MyHealthDirect is preparing to launch a new product aimed at gathering critical information and connecting patients to local resources within their community.

"We can learn about social determinants by asking questions ranging from access to transportation and food to shelter, which allow us to build a network of resources to connect patients and improve access," Cox explained. "If you're worried about where to get food, you're probably not worried about your health. All of those things are intertwined."

MyHealthDirect is also improving outreach capabilities with technology that allows scheduling via text reminders. "Because many people don't answer their phones for an unknown number, health plans and providers will soon be able to send a text so the patient can authenticate and book whatever they need without ever talking to someone on the phone," Cox said. "If patients can just click on a text and be connected to a calendar, it's much more likely they'll schedule."


Wired to Serve

MyHealthDirect's commitment to neighbors and communities isn't limited to client relationships. As a company, they're focused on hands-on corporate giving on a day-to-day basis. To that end, staff incorporate service projects into their regular gatherings, from hosting monthly lunches at a Nashville women's mission to lending a hand at Second Harvest Food Bank. The company also grants each employee three paid days off annually for service in the community through their Serve Direct program and provides complimentary patient scheduling technology to Bread of Healing, a free clinic for Milwaukee's homeless and underserved.

"We believe to whom much is given much is expected, and that's woven into our fabric," Cox said. "We live that out through the way we partner with communities."

By the Numbers

MyHealthDirect analytics show why providers and health plans are increasingly enthusiastic about their digital care coordination platform.

  • 56 percent increase in closed gaps in care
  • 19 percent improvement in show rate
  • 26 percent reduction in ED/IP utilization
  • 50 percent reduction in time to schedule appointments
  • 25 percent improved referral capture
  • New patients per provider per month

 
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Tags:
Appointment Scheduling, Digital Care Coordination, Healthcare Technology, MyHealthDirect, Tom Cox
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