A Question of Access

It makes a lot of sense. Supporting health education, providing preventative care, and delivering the right care at the right time can improve population health outcomes while reducing the dollars spent on healthcare services in the long run.

While it seems to be a simple premise, patient access to healthcare services continues to be one of the healthcare industry’s thorniest challenges, and one of the greatest threats to the population’s overall health and the industry’s ability to efficiently manage costs. When patient access is stunted, we see the direct consequences in the increased prevalence of lifestyle-related diseases, particularly among our most vulnerable populations.

One contributing factor is that access is largely tied to insurance coverage. While upfront lifestyle and nutritional education and support can help stem the diagnosis rates and side effects of diabetes, for instance, insurance coverage for these services is very selective and minimal at best. Paradoxically, insurance companies are well equipped to manage and pay for the downstream disease-related ailments and expensive “sick care,” such as foot ulcer removal for diabetics.

So what can be done to improve access to care?

Many companies in both the public and private sectors are trying to link vulnerable patients to programs that provide preventative care services and conduct needed timely interventions to stave off expensive adverse events. Many of the public entities are leveraging increased federal and state funding for Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

Unfortunately, many of these programs and services don’t reach the people who need them most. But there is a way to connect people with important, valuable healthcare resources, and it’s embedded in the same tool people use to communicate and manage almost every other aspect of their lives.

The power of mobile technology to meet people where they are is why Wildflower Health has built a health engagement platform to improve healthcare quality and lower medical costs when people start families. Wildflower Health offers smartphone applications that help healthcare payers better connect with and support families, impacting both short-term decisions and longer-term behaviors that together bend the cost curve in healthcare.

What makes our approach so unique and powerful for helping solve the patient access problem is that we simplify and personalize healthcare for our users — meeting people where they are – on their smartphones. Our applications deliver clinically validated information to expecting mothers and families when they want it and in the way they want to receive it, and connect users with additional support as needed. With a simple and powerful tool at their fingertips, users can stay on track with important health milestones, remember medical appointments, look up their individual health benefits and connect one-on-one with providers for personalized support.

Almost every stakeholder in the healthcare ecosystem – particularly health insurance companies and healthcare delivery systems – have teams of nurses and care managers dedicated to ensuring their members are getting the support they need. But the disconnect lies in the fact that many people don’t know how to access these services. Wildflower Health not only shows users their available resources based on each person’s unique benefits, but also provides phone numbers and links to help them make real-time, direct connections to those resources.

Using the smartphones we all carry with us every day, we can help make sure people have the access they need to information and resources that can greatly improve their overall health and well-being.

Laura Mackay is VP of Strategy and Business Development at Wildflower Health.