This second interview of our “Mapping the Digital Health Landscape” series, highlights the digital health innovation of Strata Health within the United States, and beyond. Operational in North America, the UK, France, and Australia, Strata Health is a privately held Canadian corporation of professionals with empathy for those who need care and intense respect for those who devote themselves to caring for others.
Peter Smith, Executive Vice President Canada for Strata Health, shares his insights into digital health innovation across the globe. Working with healthcare practitioners, clinicians, IT specialists and administrators, Strata Health pioneered the development of powerful software tools that have revolutionized patient flow, benefiting patients, caregivers and system efficiencies alike. Their proprietary intelligent referral technology has positive effects right through the care system from better matching of patients to specialists all the way to reducing paperwork.
Q & A with Peter Smith
You operate in multiple countries with the U.S. being the most recent, whereas the typical digital health product is U.S.-centric. Do you see a big difference between the application or the success of digital health in the U.S. versus the rest of the world?
Broadly speaking the application of digital health in the U.S. is more advanced than the rest of the world. This is due to the level of investment, the size of the population, and the amount of profit in the U.S. health market. There are also many other countries and innovation hotspots in the world but the U.S. generally attracts the most investment into digital health. But when you look at specific areas of digital health you can find examples where the U.S. lags behind the rest of the modern world. For example, using digital health tools and technology to improve the overall efficiency and cost of the health system is not that prevalent yet in the U.S. market. This is, at least in part, due to the fact that the U.S. market is for-profit private healthcare, which can create different incentives than you see in countries where the healthcare system is public. In countries with government paid (public) healthcare, those government bodies are driven to make the entire healthcare system as efficient as possible.
What’s the biggest challenge holding back digital health innovation within the U.S. market?
There are many silos within the U.S. health market, and these silos most often operate as for-profit enterprises. This means each of these silos is looking to innovate when it makes economic sense for that silo, but not necessarily economic sense for the system, and not necessarily better care for the patient.
The U.S. is learning from the public health systems in the world. Examples are the creation of Accountable Care Organizations (which make providers jointly accountable for the health of their patients), and the concept of episode-based bundled payments (where providers are paid a fixed fee for a particular diagnosis or procedure, but no more if complications arise). The U.S. needs to review the interactions a patient makes with the various parts of the U.S. health system during a episodic journey, and then evaluate if the system is creating the right incentives for providers to perform in the best interest of the system and the patient, while still being a private enterprise.
Do you find the interest in digital health from C-suites to be the same in all the countries you operate in? Or different?
Generally speaking, yes there is equal interest in digital health from C-suites in Canada, U.S., U.K., Scotland, France, and Australia.
What’s Strata’s greatest success story?
The health and social care teams across Cumbria are set to further roll out their Strata Health air traffic control system to manage patient transitions across the whole of the region. NHS Cumbria Partnership Foundation Trust, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, and Cumbria County Council have to date automated the process of health and social care referrals across the region, enabling transparent and consistent patient transitions supporting the patient journey while eradicating paper in the process.