Ever miss a healthcare appointment? For those of us in the general populace, it occasionally happens. For providers working with low-income patients, however, missed appointments is more of the norm.
Communicating with those at-risk patients also presents a dilemma for those providers; many low-income patients don’t have regular access to email and others struggle with health literacy. This gap in communication is costly for providers and can be harmful for patients who require ongoing care. Finding a way to maintain regular contact with low-income patients can improve their outcomes and healthy outcomes is what providers most want. San Francisco-based CareMessage these costly communication holes in 2012 and has made it a mission to create technologies that address the communication needs for the at-risk population. The company uses automated technology to help providers close these gaps, decrease no-show rates and thus improve the bottom line, so that more patients can be treated.
Addressing social problems in healthcare isn’t easy. Yet using its entrepreneurial spirit, non-profit healthcare vendor CareMessage does it every day. Unlike most tech companies that densely populate the Bay Area, CareMessage doesn’t use its talent or build technologies to pad the pockets of its founders and investors. Instead, the nonprofit works to create more efficient healthcare communication for those in the lower-income brackets, where the need is greatest.
Now, using CareMessage technologies, automated appointment reminders reach hundreds of thousands of healthcare consumers whose health typically falls through the cracks, leaving them more sick than ever before. By improving patient experience and reducing costs for health payers, providers and other key stakeholders that work with at-risk populations, CareMessage is a shining example of how healthcare technology can lead to greater healthcare access and improved health. Learn more at caremessage.org.
Health systems that address underserved populations have a great need for innovative tools. These health systems are known as the American health system safety net. Yet, creating technologies to address the various ways appointment and self-care management reminders are delivered and received for the safety net population is challenging. For providers who serve this population, customized technology is often out of reach. This financial difficulty is compounded by two cultural factors: language and message delivery barriers. CareMessage has created technologies that embrace these difficulties by delivering customized health literacy tools based on patient precondition symptoms, language preferences and message delivery type. Each of these customizations removes the language roadblocks and obstacles within message delivery. While the CareMessage automated messaging technology addresses patient communication needs, the technology also meets health goals, while reducing costs for healthcare organizations.
When a health center uses technology to remind patients of their appointments, associated costs related to missed appointments are reduced. By providing automated appointment reminders in preferred formats (ie. language preference within SMS or voice technology) for health systems, CareMessage is filling a great need. For patients, CareMessage helps reduce complications for patients who struggle with health and language communication, which positively affect the patient/provider relationship.. CareMessage CEO and Co-founder Vineet Singal says “they not only can be more efficient, but also more effective in seeing patients in a timely manner. Even more importantly for these healthcare stakeholders, revenue goes up.” This emphasis on reducing costs to achieve health system outcomes and improve health literacy is the reason CareMessage is now connected with over 175 healthcare organizations across 34 states.
How It Works
Since the founding of CareMessage in 2012, the company has been streamlining healthcare organization communications. To do that, the company’s technology offers three key components:
- Appointment reminders to conveniently inform patients about date and time of their next doctor visit
- Outreach messaging to deliver recall notices to patients struggling with chronic conditions like hypertension and others
- Specific disease messaging programs for those with chronic medical conditions like diabetes, hypertension, congestive heart failure, asthma, depression, anxiety, etc.
Additionally, the application can send and receive patient data from its mobile-based messaging.
While the vision is to improve health literacy and education, Singal says that CareMessage focuses on “automating many different types of health system messaging, providing care teams and care providers the ability to have essentially a partner to help them more effectively communicate.” By connecting to an individual through his or her cell phone, CareMessage provides various consumer high-touch points. With those connections, CareMessage delivers care technology with human interaction, while reducing costs that drive operational efficiency.
The CareMessage team plays an intermediary role between major healthcare providers and the regularly unavailable Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) by bringing innovative messaging to electronic health record (EHR) systems. Singal says that the organization has “integrated with a NextGen EHR system and is now working on other EHR integrations with Datica.”
The CareMessage Future
CareMessage plays a unique and important role in today’s healthcare landscape. Creating technologies to address special communication needs, and at-risk patients with minimal consumer education holds great promise to improve health outcomes. Likewise, by addressing the limited resources of FQHCs, they are enabled to better serve the ever-growing underserved population.
The opportunities ahead for CareMessage rest in minimizing the performance gap between FQHCs and larger healthcare providers, while still reducing operational costs and increasing human interaction with innovative care technology.