Innovaccer Acquires Marketing and CRM Platform Cured

Innovaccer shook things up last week by making its first-ever acquisition, a move that positions healthcare marketing and CRM platform Cured as a cornerstone of its patient experience roadmap.

Although Cured’s platform might initially seem like an odd fit for Innovaccer’s portfolio of data analytics and population health solutions, the acquisition quickly starts to make sense in the context of Innovaccer’s three-pronged forward strategy:

  • Value – transitioning from fee-for-service to value-based care (the Health Cloud and Data Activation Platform)
  • Productivity – shifting from burnout to AI-driven productivity (the recently debuted Sara AI suite)
  • Experience – moving from encounter-based care to experience-driven care (where Cured comes in)

Cured leverages data and AI to help healthcare organizations boost their patient experience campaigns, not unlike the data-first approach that Innovaccer takes to the provider space.

  • Cured’s marketing and CRM platform engages patients throughout their care journey to build relationships, improve outcomes, and generate revenue – three areas where billing-focused EHR systems and bolt-on CRM platforms notoriously fall short.
  • It maintains a library of 80+ healthcare-specific engagement journeys and propensity models, which are poised to gain plenty more horsepower when combined with Innovaccer’s unified patient data platform and contact center.

As a cherry on top, Cured is adding over 20 health system and digital health clients – including Sutter Health, UCHealth, and VCU Health – to Innovaccer’s current roster of ~95 customers.

  • Cured’s three co-founders will also assume leadership roles within Innovaccer to help drive a CRM strategy that now revolves around delivering a Healthcare Experience Platform (HXP) as much as a customer relationship management solution.
  • While time will tell how different an HXP looks from a CRM, marrying Innovaccer’s 360 degree view of clinical, claims, and patient behavior data with Cured’s marketing and engagement prowess sounds like a solid way to unlock some powerful capabilities.

The Takeaway

Healthcare organizations have long struggled with either CRMs layered on top of EHRs built for other purposes, or industry-agnostic CRMs that need to be customized to fit their specific needs. By joining forces with Cured, Innovaccer is looking to combine its data intelligence and contact center capabilities with a marketing and engagement force that’s strong enough to overcome that struggle through a new type of Health Experience Platform.

Hospitals Don’t Know If Patients Are Dead

An interesting research letter in JAMA Internal Medicine highlighted a grim trend in health system record keeping: EHRs frequently overlook patient deaths.

That’s a major issue for plenty of reasons, which UCLA Health researchers laid out after analyzing roughly 11,700 seriously ill primary care patients across 41 clinics (2020-2022).

Almost 700 patients whose medical records showed them as alive were actually deceased according to California public health filings, nearly 20% of the entire cohort. 

The discrepancy led to hundreds of unnecessary interactions such as prescription refills and appointment reminders, needlessly straining resources and staff bandwidth.

Of the patients found to be deceased:

  • 310 had an active appointment on the calendar
  • 541 had an appointment still pending
  • 221 received 920 letters about preventative care such as flu shots or screenings
  • 166 received 226 mailed correspondence
  • 158 had 184 orders placed for vaccines and other care
  • 88 medications were authorized 

That’s a serious amount of wasted outreach for healthcare workers that don’t exactly have extra slack in their workflows, and the authors point out that addressing just this issue would provide immediate benefit to staff (at least at one California academic health system).

It’s worth noting that California prohibits death file information from being shared with any party except for financial institutions, so the issue varies state to state.

The Takeaway

Not knowing which patients are dead isn’t ideal for provider operations, hindering everything from effective rev cycle processes to quality improvement programs. We’ve covered countless studies related to burnout caused by administrative tasks, but this is the first research we’ve seen that suggests a decent chunk of that burden could be alleviated by simply knowing which patients are still alive.

Patients Flock to Online Records and Health Apps

Digital patient experiences are becoming more important than ever, with new figures from the ONC showing a massive jump in demand for ways to access health information online.

The 2022 Health Information National Trends Survey (n=6,252) found that the portion of US adults who accessed their medical records through online tools jumped 50% between 2020 and 2022, from 38% to 57%.

  • Over the same period, the share of adults who were offered online access to their medical records by a payor or provider increased 24% to about 3 in 4.
  • Patients who were offered digital access to their records also used them more frequently, with 54% accessing them at least three times in 2022 (vs. 38% in 2020).

The ONC attributed the trend in part to the Cures Act Final Rule, which in 2020 introduced new requirements for standardized APIs for smartphone health apps.

  • In 2022, almost half of people who accessed their online medical records used only a website, whereas 19% used only an app and 32% used both.
  • The combined 51% of people who accessed their online records using an app represents a 13 percentage-point increase from 2020, and those app users also accessed their records more frequently than web-only users. 

Most of the patients accessing their online records or patient portals are using them to view test results (90%) and clinical notes (70%), but only 1 in 3 are sharing that info with a third party.

  • A vast majority (98%) also aren’t using a personal health record or portal organizing app to combine info from different sources, which the ONC suggested reflects a patient preference for tools supplied by their providers (it also probably points to a general lack of awareness around these apps and their utility).

The Takeaway

Despite the strides we’re making in patient access and the use of online medical records, the ONC’s report highlights plenty of room for improvement. Nearly half of all patients either weren’t offered or didn’t access their records / portal in 2022, and recent studies have shown significant disparities in those who do. There’s also still a relatively low percentage of patients sharing their health information, which like many of these issues, indicates a need for better education on these features.

Florence Acquires Zipnosis From Bright Health

Florence isn’t wasting any time putting its $20M seed round to good use, picking up asynchronous telehealth platform Zipnosis off of struggling insurtech Bright Health less than two months after closing the funding.

Florence was founded to unlock clinical capacity by giving patients mobile-first experiences that rival consumer industries, allowing them to update their clinical information, fill prescriptions, initiate self-discharge, and book follow-ups. Here’s our full overview.

  • Although Florence initially set its sights on the ED, acquiring Zipnosis broadens its product suite with device-agnostic asynchronous telehealth and immediately allows it to accelerate its roadmap to new sites of care – particularly the home.
  • The cherry on top of the acquisition is that Zipnosis also brings 50+ health system customers, giving Florence a solid foot in the door to start offering its core ED services.

For its part, Bright Health acquired Zipnosis for roughly $50M just two years ago as it looked to bulk up its capabilities ahead of an IPO that ended up valuing the company at $11.2 billion.

  • As with most high-flying public debuts around that time, Bright… struggled to grow into its valuation. The company has since exited ACA exchanges, begun looking to cut its last two MA markets, and overdrawn a $300M+ line of credit.
  • That combo forced Bright to offload business lines like Zipnosis to avoid bankruptcy, and although the financial terms of the acquisition weren’t disclosed, Florence’s entire seed round doesn’t seem like it would put much of a dent in Bright’s problems.

The Takeaway

All-in-all, this looks like textbook execution by Florence. The company had just 70 employees prior to doubling its head count with Zipnosis team members, and acquiring complementary capabilities and an existing customer base was probably a lot more efficient than building them in-house. It’s also safe to say that Bright isn’t the only distressed business looking to trim units, and it’s likely that we’ll see more stories like this one as strategic acquirers scoop them up.

Memora Lands $30M for Care Automation

Among last week’s wave of HIMSS announcements was Memora Health landing $30M in fresh funding from General Catalyst and a group of strategic health system partners.

The investors included big names like Northwell and NorthShore/Edward-Elmhurst, which makes sense given the two major goals of Memora’s care automation platform:

  • Unburden care teams to allow them to practice at the top of their license
  • Proactively guide and engage patients throughout their care journeys 

The themes are familiar, but Memora’s platform tackles them in some unique ways.

  • An SMS-based asynchronous communication platform (vs. app based)
  • Tight integration with human providers for triage and navigation
  • Automation to push data to patients + pull new data via questionnaires and devices
  • AI-enabled care journeys that evolve with the behavior of patients

Memora works with its partners to understand how they manage their most complex patients, then takes their existing workflows and automates as much as possible into a text messaging protocol with reminders, check-ins, and scheduling.

  • Although companies like Conversa and Twistle also play in the automated engagement sandbox, Memora points to its enterprise scalability as a differentiator.
  • The platform includes a wide breadth of programs for areas like surgical care, chronic condition management, and maternal care, and Memora’s investor roster speaks to the fact that systems are actively looking for ways to consolidate solutions.

It was interesting to see Memora CEO Manav Sevak note that the round was “not something we intended to raise,” but as a way to “work more collaboratively with these sites.”

  • Sevak also mentioned that Memora is “exploring opportunities” to market its solution to more payors and digital health companies.
  • Memora already works with a few digital health startups like Luma Health and Reimagine Care, but its bread and butter still looks like the care delivery orgs after adding Virtua Health and Moffitt Cancer Center earlier this year.

The Takeaway

Memora’s value proposition reads like a Mad Lib of ways to address today’s biggest provider pain points, and $30M of strategic funding should definitely help it deliver. That said, it sounds like Memora is widening its focus to new customers, making execution even more important as the strategy shifts gears.

Florence Debuts With $20M to Unlock Capacity

Patient experience startup Florence emerged from stealth with $20M in seed funding to address what it views as the most significant constraint in care delivery: clinical capacity.

Backed by venture teams from Google, Salesforce, and Thrive Capital, Florence is developing solutions to help patients track and accelerate their care journeys using their smartphones.

The first stop for Florence, as with a growing number of patients, is the emergency department. 

  • Using Florence’s mobile platform, patients in the ED can complete intake forms, update clinical information, initiate self-discharge, and schedule follow-ups.
  • The mobile-first self service solution is designed to eliminate operational overhead while cutting down on ED wait times and patients leaving before seeing a provider. 
  • The entire system is integrated into existing workflows to deliver an experience that rivals what consumers are used to in other industries. The idea is that patients get real-time updates, providers get better ED throughput, and everyone goes home happy.

Florence’s strategy leads with product, and the seed funding will be used to hire design and engineering talent to help advance that goal.

  • The “optimize capacity, streamline admin” value proposition is reaching providers at the right time. Since kicking off operations in 2021, Florence has added 40 health systems to its client roster, including its marquee partnership with Maryland-based Luminis Health.
  • “Non-clinical workflow” companies began topping Rock Health’s digital health funding charts back in Q3 2022, and between Florence, Vital, and LeanTaas’ activity within just the last week, that trend looks like it’s here to stay.

The Takeaway

Florence plays at the intersection of healthcare consumerization and workflow optimization, two themes that were definitely standouts at ViVE Nashville last week. If Florence can keep drawing a straight line between its solution and higher provider revenues, it should have no problem finding more health systems looking to streamline their EDs.

DHW Q&A: Building Better Experiences With Nuance Communications

With Peter Durlach
Nuance Communications, Chief Strategy Officer

In this Digital Health Wire Q&A, we sat down with Nuance Communications Chief Strategy Officer Peter Durlach to discuss what it takes to create great patient experiences and the evolving role of artificial intelligence in healthcare.

Durlach was an early pioneer in voice-enabled technology before joining Nuance and establishing its healthcare business in 2006. He’s since guided Nuance’s strategy across virtual assistants, imaging AI, and patient engagement, while overseeing Microsoft’s $19.7B acquisition of the company in 2022.

Let’s kick things off with a birds eye view of Nuance’s healthcare business. Can you share a bit about the overarching strategy? 

One of the best ways to think about the Nuance platform is as a conversational AI or ambient technology stack that can be highly tuned for specific B2B problems.

The healthcare division is very focused on creating solutions that drive meaningful outcomes in one of four buckets: 1) can we improve the clinician experience; 2) can we improve financial performance; 3) can we improve clinical quality; 4) can we improve the patient experience.

Zooming in on the patient experience side, can you walk us through Nuance’s services within that bucket?

People have been talking about improving the patient experience for decades, but investment in the space didn’t really take off until a couple years before COVID and only accelerated under the moniker “digital front door.” The reason it took off is because so many new competitors are trying to siphon business away from traditional providers.

When we saw this starting to unfold, we brought over the same underlying technology that’s been providing great consumer experiences in areas like retail, banking, and airlines, then built an application layer on top of that stack that tackles common problems for every provider.

To give one example, the Access Center is more important than ever as patients forget their portal passwords or want to log in to a telehealth visit, yet the staffing shortage is making it so that none of these providers have the ability to keep up. We provide the technology that helps them improve the experience without driving up staffing costs.

How do you think about steering the direction of Nuance’s healthcare business from a roadmap and prioritization perspective?

We start by thinking about the technology platform, then figuring out what apps to build on top of it. Nearly every provider is trying to consolidate vendors, not only for themselves but for their patients.

From the patient’s point of view, it’s a terrible experience if you phone a call center on one system, then interact with a chatbot on another, then receive an SMS from a third vendor. It’s also terrible for the provider to have to build the back end to all these separate systems or deploy these patient journeys across completely disparate platforms.

We do a lot of market research with clients where we ask about their biggest pain points, and one of the things we find time and time again is that the 80-20 rule holds true. 20% of potential applications can solve 80% of the pain. We’re focusing on that 20%.

What are some of the other common pain points that you’ve seen on the provider side during your market research?

I think that one of the biggest challenges in healthcare is that a lot of places still have silos between different areas of whatever they’re calling “digital.” The website, the voice side, the SMS. These silos get in the way of a comprehensive strategy.

You can’t have the people who manage the call center thinking about workflows and technology independently from the people worried about SMS and the website. Some organizations are starting to put these silos under the same leader, but even that isn’t necessarily a slam dunk. 

Patient-centric health systems realize that all of these modalities are just different ways to communicate the same information, and it’s the connected journey that’s important.

AI has been enjoying a moment in the sun with ChatGPT and Microsoft’s investment. How do you see these types of large language models impacting healthcare? 

First, let me just say that these new models are truly breathtaking. They’re mind blowing. Does that mean they’re perfect? No. Is there a fundamental technology shift happening? 100%.

In healthcare, the bar is a lot higher because the model’s mistakes can kill people. That means we’re probably going to see non-medical decision making use cases like prior authorizations or patient engagement proliferate quickly because a mistake isn’t going to kill somebody.

On the clinical side, it’s going to be far more complicated because the downside is much greater, plus you have the FDA in the middle of it. How do these models fit into regulatory guidelines? What’s the indication for use? Can you explain the black box? I truly believe it’s transformative tech, but it won’t suddenly solve every problem without some bumps along the road.

What do you think have been the keys to success for Nuance and for anyone looking to transform the healthcare industry going forward?

The single most important thing for us might sound a little cliche, but it’s the fact that we’re laser focused on the outcomes we deliver for our clients. That’s the anchor point for everything we do.

If you’re a company that’s building something in healthcare, you need to be able to move a metric that your clients care about and that they’re willing to invest in. Once you have that metric, you shouldn’t be wasting time on anything else. 

When you ask people what problems they solve, a lot of the time they’ll show you the tech and do a demo. It’s the classic tech company thing to do. They should be thinking about the client problem, the metric they can impact, and an economically viable way to make that happen.

That focus is the biggest key to our success, and it can really help crystalize the mission of anyone else in healthcare.
For more on Nuance’s Healthcare AI Solutions & Services, head over to their website.

Accenture’s Nonnegotiable Patient Expectations

Healthcare consumerism isn’t new, but the last few years have rearranged the list of what patients are looking for in their providers more than any other time in recent memory.

To uncover what factors are currently patients’ top priorities, Accenture surveyed more than 21k US healthcare consumers since 2017, finding that loyalty is now more important and harder to come by than ever.

  • 30% of respondents switched to a new provider in 2021, up 4% since 2017.
  • Nearly 80% of patients who switched cited poor care navigation as the reason for leaving, including bad experiences with staff and inadequate digital solutions.
  • Millennials were nearly 8x more likely to switch providers than older adults (46% vs. 6%) – an important trend to keep an eye on considering that they’re in a unique position to make healthcare decisions for both their children and aging parents.

Accenture identified four focus areas for organizations looking to build patient loyalty in an increasingly competitive landscape.

  • Access: 71% cited access as the top factor in selecting a provider (availability, convenience, the ability to connect with providers through preferred channels).
  • Ease of Doing Business: People who find their providers “very easy” to work with are 9x more likely to stay. Even providers who were “somewhat easy” to work with were 3x more likely to keep patients.
  • Digital Engagement: 79% of patients who described themselves as “highly digital” were likely to stay with their providers. These patients exclusively prefer digital engagement and only fall back to traditional channels when digital methods fail.
  • Trust: Patients who trust their provider were 5x more likely to stay (84%), and almost 7x more likely to stay than those who don’t trust their providers at all.

The Takeaway

Accenture’s report underscores how important it is to lead with the patient experience when building loyalty… and just how difficult of a job that is to actually get right. Patients trust providers who make them feel heard and informed about the state of their health, but building true loyalty “not only requires the ability to meet people where they are, it also means understanding where they are going.”

Healthjoy Lands $60M for Benefits Navigation

Employees love health benefits almost as much as they hate navigating them, which is why Healthjoy closed $60M in Series D funding to simplify the process. 

The new investment brings the company’s total funding to $108M as it looks to build its platform into the leading user experience for both employees and HR departments. 

Simplicity and engagement are how Healthjoy plans to accomplish this. Its app is designed to serve as a unified front door to employee benefits, and includes all the good stuff you’d assume would make that happen: 

  • An AI-assistant named JOY that helps triage users to relevant services 
  • A 24/7 concierge team to answer any questions
  • An “automated steerage” feature that guides members to lower cost solutions

Healthjoy’s stance is that a serious lack of awareness is what causes underutilization. Many HR departments have a robust network of services, but employees can’t use what they don’t know about.

  • By housing every benefit in an employer’s package under one roof (medical, dental, vision, wellness initiatives, etc.), then serving as the engagement layer, Healthjoy is aiming to make the entire experience more seamless for everyone involved.
  • Healthjoy combines its own user metrics with partner data to create comprehensive profiles of its members, allowing it to present them with relevant benefits and nudge them towards efficient options.
  • The company also partners with virtual care providers like Teladoc and other benefit administrators to expand the solutions available to its members. It counts the ability to integrate with, as opposed to compete with, outside platforms as a key differentiator.

The Takeaway
As the health benefits space becomes more complex at the same time as many employers are growing overwhelmed with point solutions, HealthJoy’s strategy of simplifying the experience as much as possible seems to make a lot of sense. If Healthjoy can execute on its plan to drive higher engagement by connecting all utilization data within a single ecosystem, then plenty of employers would probably welcome the help in the battle for talent.

Why Healthcare Needs a Flywheel

Big tech took a week off from major healthcare acquisitions, giving us a rare chance to highlight some of the thought leadership coming out of Providence’s Digital Innovation Group.

A new blog post co-authored by Sara Vaezy and Doug Grapski – DIG THIS: Why HealthCare Needs a Flywheel – lays out how incorporating business flywheels into health system strategies can lead to lower churn, higher capacity, and a better patient experience.

Vaezy is Providence’s newly appointed CDO (she also spices things up with an awesome craft hot sauce side gig), and Grapski is the Director of Digital Strategy within the innovation group (unclear whether he likes hot sauce).

For those unfamiliar with the flywheel concept, it’s a business mechanism that pulls consumers to a platform and drives continued use, thereby adding stability and increasing momentum much like a mechanical flywheel. Notable examples include Amazon’s Prime membership and Starbucks’ loyalty program.

Despite their success in other industries, flywheels are seldomly implemented in healthcare, and most patients rarely interact with their providers outside of moments of individual need.

  • Vaezy and Grapski emphasize that a portfolio of modalities (3rd party apps, care navigation, personalized experiences) is needed to create flywheels that are effective at providing proactive healthcare experiences.
  • By integrating these tools in a single platform, health systems can begin eliminating the gap between “sick care” and “healthy care” – especially important for those in value-based arrangements.

Providence’s flywheel revolves around leveraging various data sources to deeply understand its patients as consumers with identities outside of their clinical data, allowing it to create highly personalized engagement programs.

  • This 360-degree view of its consumers lets Providence operate more like a D2C startup than a giant health system, with strong direct relationships that draw people to its services and keep it top of mind between visits.
  • Only once this flywheel is in place would the authors suggest augmenting it with non-traditional offerings such as a durable medical equipment business or concierge-level care.

The Takeaway

The consumerization of healthcare is one of the biggest trends in digital health, and it makes sense that forward-looking health systems will be borrowing plenty of plays from the consumer-tech playbook. Flywheels are the foundation of some of the most successful consumer businesses, and Providence’s digital health leaders make a strong case that it’s time for healthcare to start putting them to use.

Get the top digital health stories right in your inbox

You might also like..

Select All

You're signed up!

It's great to have you as a reader. Check your inbox for a welcome email.

-- The Digital Health Wire team

You're all set!