What does a breakdancing eye surgeon have to say about healthcare today? As the third in our Mapping Digital Health series of interviews, we asked Dr. John Moore, CEO and Founder of Twine Health, about the status of patient engagement in healthcare. Moore’s entrepreneurial career had an unusual start when, as an undergrad at Boston University, he founded a breakdancing club. As he completed medical school and trained to become a specialized eye surgeon, he recognized a major break in communication between patients and their doctors once they left their doctor’s offices. Moore founded Twine Health in order to create technology that really reaches patients.
Not surprisingly, when people are put into the driver’s seat in their care, supported by doctors, nurses, health coaches, and others, their outcomes dramatically improve and the satisfaction of all parties soars.”
Q&A with Dr. John Moore
What kind of impact is patient engagement making in healthcare?
The term patient engagement has become quite diluted over the past decade such that, lately, it typically refers simply to sending out e-mail appointment reminders and surveys and getting patients to sign up for patient portals to get them to do what their clinicians say. In this respect, the impact is relatively slim. At the same time, there is a transformative approach growing that we prefer to call “health activation,” which is incredibly exciting and is proving to have a larger impact every day. The likes of Omada Health, Propeller Health, HealthLoop, Twine Health, and others are working on solutions to help people truly collaborate with their care teams and to become activated in their own health behavior change. Not surprisingly, when people are put into the driver’s seat in their care, supported by doctors, nurses, health coaches, and others, their outcomes dramatically improve and the satisfaction of all parties soars. There is still a long way to go to scale this phenomenon, but this progress makes it an exciting time to be in healthcare.
Is the “consumerization of patient care” making patient engagement easier? better?
There is no doubt that freeing care from the shackles of our current fee-for-service insurance payment system makes empowering people to participate more deeply in their care easier and better. When doctors only get paid to see people in the office and hurry them through, there isn’t much space for collaboration. A great example of the consumerization of care is the direct primary care movement in this county. Clinicians, especially in primary and preventative care, are fed up with the broken payment model and its unbearable administrative burden. And people are fed up with co-pays, deductibles, and terrible customer service. They are turning to direct primary care, a subscription-based model of primary care that brings the consumer directly to the clinician without insurance processes and other barriers. These practices get back to the basics of healthy therapeutic relationships and, by being unfettered from archaic payment models, they are free to adopt new workflows and technologies to further enhance the experience and to optimize health activation.
In parallel with this consumerization effort, it is incredibly important to consider the world of workplace health that is paving the path ahead of consumerization and is about to boom. Self-insured employers, which make up more than 70% of those companies with greater than 500 employees, are tired of seeing rising healthcare cost by relying on the mainstream healthcare system. They are contracting with a new breed of healthcare providers that are building on-site primary care clinics and bringing health coaches to the office and to employee smart phones. While it might take consumers a while to start paying out of pocket for healthcare services, their employers are ready to pay the bill for them because this new breed of healthcare providers is proving that people love the convenience of their services and that they can dramatically decrease employer overall healthcare costs by improving prevention and chronic disease care.
How important are the roles of advisors in building a digital health company?
One of the biggest challenges in building a digital health company lies in finding the right product-market fit. Healthcare is incredibly complex, risk-averse, and sometimes perverse in its incentives in that healthcare pays providers for services, whether or not they help a patient’s outcomes. Having advisors that understand these complexities is incredibly valuable. They can help you to minimize missteps on your way to finding a product-market fit that makes your company successful while allowing you to maintain dedication to the patient experience and outcomes.