Cerner aims to simplify patient communication with WELL Health

Through WELL, Cerner offers new capabilities designed to help unify and automate previously disjointed communications; enhance patient engagement

Cerner Corporation, a global healthcare technology company, today announced capabilities focused on helping providers improve patient engagement and satisfaction through intelligent and automated communication powered by WELL Health Inc. The move is designed to help providers continue to transform the healthcare experience with added emphasis on timely and meaningful patient communications. By teaming with WELL Health, Cerner is offering health care organizations a modern way to communicate with patients, simply by texting back and forth.

“WELL Health is focused on what patients expect today – near real-time, personalized communication on their terms. We aim to move beyond the days of playing phone tag, leaving voicemails, and expecting patients to continue showing up,” says Guillaume de Zwirek, CEO and founder, WELL Health.

“WELL supports patients to text their health care provider like they would text a friend. For a provider’s staff, WELL is designed to unify and automate disjointed communications across the organization, helping to reduce unnecessary stress and limiting potential errors.”

Why texting patients matters

More than 5 billion people spend nearly a quarter of their day on their mobile phones. In fact, in the last few years, the number of active cellphone subscriptions exceeded the number of people on earth. Giving patients the same person-centric digital experience in health care as they receive from other industries has become increasingly important. Teaming with WELL Health, Cerner is focused on making technology more useable for health systems and patients by meeting consumers where they are spending their time.

Cerner patient communication hub

These new capabilities, incorporated into Cerner’s patient portal HealtheLife℠, act as a patient communication hub that extends beyond email. It is designed to help unify communications from the myriad of different systems and apps accessed throughout the patient care journey into a single text message conversation. Combined with advanced notifications and appointment reminders, organizations will be empowered to leverage automation to help improve the patient experience.

“Cerner is committed to helping providers create the engaging, comprehensive health care experiences patients expect and deserve,” says David Bradshaw, senior vice president, consumer and employer solutions, Cerner.

“We are focused on strengthening our clients’ ability to build meaningful relationships with patients, drive enhanced care experiences and deliver greater value through efficient and intelligent messaging.”

Automating patient communication

Organizations can use the new features to automate patient communications like delivering critical health information, sending flu shot reminders, rescheduling appointments, scheduling virtual visits, and prompting patients to set up needed medical transportation. Additional benefits to patients and providers are expected to include:

  • Decreased time spent scheduling and communicating with patients by using automated workflows that reply and route based on patient responses.
  • Reduced staff time spent on billing and payment collections by auto-notifying patients when new bills are ready for payment.
  • Improved patient satisfaction, retention and acquisition through timely communication and reduced hold queues, missed calls and email delays.

Consumer experiences have never been more important than in today’s environment, as patients desire more digital health solutions and providers engage in value-based contracts where satisfaction is paramount. Today’s patients expect the same person-centric digital experiences in health care as they receive from other industries and may be more likely to switch providers after a poor experience.

There are over 100 unique ways providers can use the new capabilities to aid in providing timely and informative communications with the goal of helping reduce the possibility of error or delays. Through automated and intelligent communications from WELL Health, Cerner aims to help clients improve patient satisfaction and enhance staff efficiency through meaningful engagements.

7 ways WELL protects patient health information

 

There’s no shortage of headlines on data breaches in healthcare.

Once again, federal agencies warn that cybercriminals are unleashing ransomeware attacks against the U.S. healthcare system designed to lock up hospital information systems. These and other frequent revelations erode consumer trust in health systems to protect patient data. And they send a chilling warning to chief information officers — protect PHI or risk millions in fines and litigation.

Health systems rely on third-party vendors for care delivery and coordination. But they present an additional vulnerability. Any weakness in their security is a weakness in yours.

“Healthcare has always been a target of cyber security threats, most recently shown by the spike in ransomware attacks to U.S. hospitals and healthcare providers. WELL remains committed to deploying and enforcing the latest security measures to protect the integrity, confidentiality, and availability of the data we receive and store,” says Sam Jo, WELL Chief Information Security Officer. “Protecting our customers and the patients they serve is and always will be a top priority for us.”

#1 Security starts with people

Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that more than half of data breaches in healthcare were triggered by internal negligence. Carelessness. At WELL, we take this risk to heart. We conduct security and compliance training upon hire and regularly throughout the year. Additionally, prior to receiving access to systems, employees must complete additional compliance and best practices training. They also must acknowledge their understanding of our acceptable use policies.

#2 Maintain an information security management program

WELL guards patient health information carefully and remains fully committed to deploying and enforcing the latest information security frameworks. We will protect the integrity, confidentiality, and availability of the data we receive.

We maintain a comprehensive written information security program that covers all aspects of our information security practices, policies, and procedures, including all 19 domains of HITRUST.

#3 Develop with security in mind

The WELL development team employs secure coding techniques and best practices from The Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) as well as SANS. Each of WELL’s developers receives formal training in secure web application development practices. We also use a peer-review model to ensure code complies with stated objectives.

Additionally, WELL’s code base is scanned at minimum on a quarterly basis, and the security team is tightly integrated with the development process to ensure secure coding practices are being followed.

#4 Store and encrypt data

WELL has a robust program for storing and encrypting data. We store data in the US in two distinct geographic regions and run databases in a private subnet. That means they’re not exposed to the internet, and access is restricted to the WELL application and authorized personnel. WELL also encrypts data in transit and at rest, and performs nightly backups.

WELL maintains a documented vulnerability management program. It includes periodically scanning, identifying, and fixing security vulnerabilities on servers, workstations, network equipment, and applications.

#5 Simulate threats

WELL is Veracode Verified and works with third parties to conduct penetration tests at least annually. These tests mimic an outside attack to ensure a full view of our environment. “WELL is committed to delivering secure code to help organizations reduce the risk of a major security breach. Companies that invest in secure coding processes and follow our protocol for a mature application security program are able to deliver more confidence to customers who deploy their software,” said Asha May, CA Veracode.

#6 Manage risks

The WELL risk management process aims to promptly address any potential risks that could affect the business and assets of the company. WELL utilizes the NIST framework for internal risk assessments. We also employ independent external auditors and consultants to perform risk analysis of WELL’s security posture.

#7 Prepare for the worst

Even with all of the correct security safeguards in place, incidents happen to even the most reputable organizations. WELL maintains a trained Incident Response Team which includes members of all integral functions across the business in order to quickly address potential incidents. The team meets regularly and has a clearly defined approach for handling potential threats.

Choose a vendor that takes security as seriously as you do

WELL serves many of the leading enterprise health systems, including Cedars-Sinai, Houston Methodist, and NYU Langone. Their security standards are the best in the business.

Deepak Chaudhry is National Health IT & HITRUST Leader at BDO, whichc conducted WELL’s HITRUST audit. He said, “WELL’s security program is particularly impressive, and security has clearly been a primary focus since the company’s beginning. WELL has made sure to consider the end-to-end data flow process, and they’ve conscientiously deployed all the necessary controls to best address safety, privacy, and potential risk.”

“We protect the patient information we receive as if it’s our own, because we have that responsibility,” Jo says. “Our environment and processes are built and maintained with a full understanding of the weight and sensitivity of the information we handle, and knowing we need to protect against the many threats that exist within information security.”♥

When disaster strikes, text all of your patients at once with Broadcast Messages

As wildfires, hurricanes, and other natural disasters threaten healthcare operations, WELL offers the flexibility to text all of your patients at once.

When the largest wildfire in California history to date roared through Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties, many Community Memorial Health System locations had to close. Providers couldn’t go to work. Even the call center had to move to another location to escape the fast-moving blaze.

“It was a massive undertaking trying to reach that many patients,” recalls Lori Hooks, Director of Practice Systems at the prominent Ventura, California health system.

Phone calls are tedious and ineffective. Whether it’s due to a wildfire, hurricane, or simply a provider calling in sick, calling a large group of patients at once is tedious. When the conditions change minute by minute, it’s virtually impossible. For CMHS, by the time they had reached patients to let them know of location and schedule changes, the appointment time slots had already arrived. Now the health system uses WELL. Its Broadcasts feature allows CMHS to schedule a message to go out at a moment’s notice.

“WELL is a mini-preparedness kit,” Hooks said.

Text all of your patients at once with Broadcast messages

Broadcast Messages provide an easy solution to text all of your patients at once and at the last minute. Here’s how it works. In the WELL platform, you can quickly select up to 1,000 patients per practice per day and send them all a customized message.

Make it even easier by using Smart Phrases and Quick Response Templates.

Smart Phrases are like shortcuts and allow you to customize communication with your patients. Compose a message as you would otherwise and insert Smart Phrases into the text. For example, {clientFirstName}. Once the message is sent, the data dynamically populates from your EMR or scheduling system and automatically tailors itself with each patient’s specific information.

How it looks to your staff: Hello {clientFirstName}, this is {staffFirstName} with {practiceName}. Due to the rapidly spreading LCU Lightning Complex fires, your appointment has been moved to our {eventLocationName} at {eventLocationAddress}. {eventConfirmText}.

How it looks to your patients: Hello Kevin, this is Bridget with Valley View Health. Due to the rapidly spreading LCU Lightning Complex fires, your appointment has been moved to our Almond Grove location at 1000 Main Street. Reply Y to confirm or N to cancel.

Disaster preparedness can start now

WELL Quick Responses are pre-written responses for common scenarios and questions. They’re ready to go when disaster strikes, there’s a power outage, or a provider comes down with the flu. For example:

Hello {clientFirstName}, this is {staffFirstName} with {practiceName}. Due to the construction on State Street, please use our Anacapa entrance and allow an additional 10 minutes to arrive.

Field patient questions with ease

With WELL’s bidirectional functionality, if patients have questions or concerns, they can easily send them via text. Call centers can respond as they have time and speed things up with Quick Responses when appropriate. Bidirectional texting in healthcare keeps call volume low and patients informed.

WELL’s Broadcast feature coupled with Smart Phrases and Quick Responses ensures your health system can handle whatever nature throws your way. ♥

WELL Health makes Inc. 500 list of fastest growing private companies

WELL Health Inc. ranks number 170 on the 2020 Inc. 5000 with three-year revenue growth of 2332.44 percent

Inc. magazine today revealed that WELL Health Inc. is No. 170 on its annual Inc. 5000 list, the most prestigious ranking of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies. The list represents a unique look at the most successful companies within the American economy’s most dynamic segment — its independent small businesses. Intuit, Zappos, Under Armour, Microsoft, Patagonia, and many other well-known names gained their first national exposure as honorees on the Inc. 5000.

“We started WELL to change the way patients experience healthcare. Our rank on the Inc. 500 list is a great milestone. But the real win is how we’re able to improve access to care for millions of patients,” says Guillaume de Zwirek, WELL founder and CEO.

Companies on the Inc. 5000 List

Not only have the companies on the 2020 Inc. 5000 been very competitive within their markets, but the list as a whole shows staggering growth compared with prior lists as well. The 2020 Inc. 5000 achieved an incredible three-year average growth of over 500 percent, and a median rate of 165 percent. The Inc. 5000’s aggregate revenue was $209 billion in 2019, accounting for over 1 million jobs over the past three years.

Find complete results of the Inc. 5000, including company profiles and an interactive database at www.inc.com/inc5000. Inc. will also feature the top 500 companies in its September issue, available on newsstands August 12.

“The companies on this year’s Inc. 5000 come from nearly every realm of business,” says Inc. editor-in-chief Scott Omelianuk. “From health and software to media and hospitality, the 2020 list proves that no matter the sector, incredible growth is based on the foundations of tenacity and opportunism.”

The annual Inc. 5000 event honoring the companies on the list will be held virtually from October 23 to 27, 2020. As always, speakers will include some of the greatest innovators and business leaders of our generation.

Methodology

The 2020 Inc. 5000 is ranked according to percentage revenue growth when comparing 2016 and 2019. To qualify, companies must have been founded and generating revenue by March 31, 2016. They had to be U.S.-based, privately held, for profit, and independent — not subsidiaries or divisions of other companies — as of December 31, 2019. (Since then, a number of companies on the list have gone public or been acquired.) The minimum revenue required for 2016 is $100,000; the minimum for 2019 is $2 million. As always, Inc. reserves the right to decline applicants for subjective reasons. Companies on the Inc. 500 are featured in Inc.’s September issue. They represent the top tier of the Inc. 5000, which can be found at http://www.inc.com/inc5000. ♥

WELL highly rated in new KLAS COVID-19 report

 

A new KLAS report includes WELL Health on a short list of high-performing vendors for its support of healthcare organizations during COVID-19.

KLAS Research released a Specialty Report revealing what provider organizations in the heart of the COVID-19 crisis say about their technology and services vendors’ responses.

The report uncovers what technologies organizations have relied on and what solutions are making the greatest impact. It also reveals how COVID-19 will shape organization budgets moving forward.

WELL rated in the top right quadrant, demonstrating “excellent performance” with higher overall satisfaction before the pandemic and COVID-19 response scores greater than 8.5.

“As more waves of COVID-19 cases are likely, KLAS hopes this report helps vendors improve their response and helps provider organizations know where to turn for additional assistance,” the report says.

The clear winner: telehealth

Telehealth dominated healthcare technologies during the crisis, with 43 different vendors listed by the healthcare organizations surveyed. KLAS found that most organizations surveyed scrambled to implement telehealth solutions, sometimes overlooking long-term strategy in their haste. As COVID reached a tipping point in the U.S. in mid-March, vendors who provided the quickest implementations won the majority of bids.

Health systems also relied on acute care EMR and AI/analytics vendors throughout the ongoing crisis. Artificial intelligence helped with infection control, coordinating a mobile and remote workforce, and quality and risk management.

Tech vendors step up their game

COVID-19 brought out the best in most healthcare IT vendors, particularly those who already have high KLAS ratings. Healthcare professionals rated vendor performance on a scale of 1-9 on how well vendors supported them during the crisis.

WELL responds to COVID-19

In response to COVID-19, WELL worked with our partners to fund and engineer the Rapid Release Program (RRP). It has allowed health systems to manage urgent COVID-19 patient communications at scale and can be fully deployed in just 48 hours.

The program eased the burden on call centers and front desk staff to provide consistent and timely communication during the pandemic. For patients, reaching out to their providers became as easy as sending a text or email or starting a web chat.

WELL deploys timely COVID-19 solution

UnityPoint Health, which serves patients across Iowa, western Illinois and southern Wisconsin, deployed the Rapid Release Program in April 2020.  “When COVID-19 began to show up in the communities we serve, we wanted an additional tool to communicate the evolving changes and help reduce community spread,” said Lauren Hardison, Executive Director of Strategy & Business Development at UnityPoint Health. “We had already been in talks with WELL and knew the platform could support our patient communication needs in this critical time.”

WELL designed RRP to quickly onboard new health systems with frictionless patient communication tools. RRP automates a high percentage of the communications traffic. This allows provider responders to optimize their time and efforts on scenarios that require a human touch. In addition, provider resources can perform these tasks from any location, including their homes.

About KLAS

KLAS is a data-driven company on a mission to improve the world’s healthcare by enabling provider and payer voices to be heard and counted. Working with thousands of healthcare professionals, KLAS collects insights on software, services and medical equipment to deliver reports, trending data and statistical overviews. KLAS data is accurate, honest and impartial.

The research directly reflects the voice of healthcare professionals and acts as a catalyst for improving vendor performance. To learn more about KLAS and the insights it provides, visit KLASresearch.com ♥

How WELL Benefits Orthopedic Practice Management

Orthopedic practices are often overwhelmed by patient calls and enquiries. Effective patient communication software can streamline orthopedic practice management, and help doctors respond to those in need as rapidly as possible. 

It’s Monday morning. Your neck is aching. Your skis are hung up in the garage for what might be an indefinite amount of time. And you’re on hold with your orthopedic surgeon.

This could be awhile.

“Orthopedics, by its very nature, is such an unpredictable specialty,” said Siobhan Palmer, Director, Santa Monica Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Group.

The busy clinic, part of the Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute, sees a huge spike in call volume Monday mornings due to weekend accidents. Palmer wanted an orthopedic practice management software that would enable the clinic to quickly and painlessly reach patients and communicate with them at the time they need it most.

She found WELL.

Communication’s significance in orthopedic practice management

Orthopedic practice management is a complex challenge. WELL understands the unique challenges that orthopedic practices face. Terri Werner, HIM Supervisor at New Mexico Orthopedics, expresses it succinctly: “We want to make things better for patients. If you’ve ever been a patient, you have an idea of what it’s like.”

However, a diminishing surgeon workforce and an increasing number of patients needing orthopedic care mean more work for physicians and shorter appointment times for patients.

Add in the last-minute schedule changes and you have an administrative headache.

Calls go unanswered. Patients get annoyed. Doctors and office staff shoulder the burden.

At least, that’s what we’ve heard from the many orthopedic groups that have sought out WELL. Here are some of the primary issues ortho practices face, and how our patient communication app has helped them address these challenges and implement orthopedic best practices.

Reduce high call volume

At St. Charles Orthopedic Surgery Associates in St. Peters, Missouri, a glut of incoming phone calls about simple, non-clinical issues crowded the phone lines, preventing patients with more pressing issues from getting through. 

The same was true for 360 Orthopedics, which has served patients in Florida since 1978. They had a significant volume of phone calls, that were a mix of emergencies needing immediate attention, and non-urgent queries. These calls all had to wait in a queue, creating a large workload and poor patient experience.

That’s a problem — especially because most people calling an orthopedic surgeon are probably already having a pretty bad day.

“We are always thinking about how to improve communications with patients,” said Suzann Crowder, administrator at SCOSA. “They often contact our practice when they are at a low point.”

Chad Nettleman, CIO of 360 Ortho agrees: “In today’s digital age, people expect someone to answer personally when they reach out via call or text – just like you’re standing in front of them in the lobby.”

Streamlining things with the right orthopedic practice management software makes a big difference. After implementing WELL’s bi-directional messaging capabilities, the busy practices saw a huge reduction in call volume. Automated messages provided answers to routine queries, such as “Where is your office located?” and staff could easily enter the conversation when necessary. WELL’s patient communication software reduced stress for office staff and greater satisfaction from patients.

Handle last-minute scheduling

Whether they sustain injuries on the trails or in a car accident, orthopedic patients often need last-minute appointments. Couple this with the realities any clinic faces—inclement weather, running behind schedule, or a physician calling in sick—and office staff needs patient communication tools to quickly and easily communicate last-minute changes.

Doctors at Rocky Mountain Orthopedic Associates see as many as 30 to 40 patients per day, so when a change arises, it’s especially challenging. Janis Hoppe, the practice’s subject matter IT expert described the situation this way, “We would have to try to contact every single patient at the very last minute. It’s incredibly disruptive to try to get a hold of that many patients.”

The Colorado-based practice implemented the WELL patient communication platform and immediately saw staff workflows streamlined and workloads lightened. With our orthopedic practice management software, they also saw an increase in patient responsiveness. “For some reason, when we text them, we get a response immediately,” said Pam Bachorski, the clinic’s practice administrator.

WELL’s broadcasts feature allows practices to streamline orthopedic practice management and quickly select up to 1,000 patients to send them all a customized message – great for last-minute schedule changes or notifications.

Reduced no-shows

The no-show rate for orthopedic follow-up appointments can be as high as 26 percent, according to a study published in The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery in 2014. Those with spine and back complaints are the most likely to miss appointments. That results in lost revenue, more administrative work for staff, and less likelihood of attracting new patients – those looking for those last-minute appointment slots. 

In addition to reducing their call volume, the WELL patient communication app introduced more benefits to SCOSA. They saw 50 percent reduction in no-shows and 11 percent increase in patient bookings within the first quarter following implementation. “WELL is one of those rare solutions that makes the patient care experience better without breaking the bank,” Crowder said.

360 Ortho, meanwhile, saw its no-show rate drop by 17%, to less than three percent – half of the industry average. This resulted in an impressive 208% return on investment. Moving forward, Nettleman anticipates more opportunities for WELL’s broadcast feature. “We’re always looking to move forward and expand it to where it makes logical sense. Now, WELL is one of our better tools, that’s for certain.”

Streamlined Revenue Collection

Software that aids effective orthopedic practice management also streamlines revenue collection. Take New Mexico Orthopedics. The busy orthopedic practice sees an average of 800 patients a day across its three locations. NMO wanted a digital front door that welcomes and remembers patients even before they set foot in the clinic.

To that end, NMO integrated WELL’s patient communication software with SwervePay, a cloud-based payment application. This helped streamline the check-in process further, allowing patients to quickly make their payments with a quick text message link.

Adoption grew quickly, and now, 17% of NMO patients pay their copays in advance. Furthermore, the advanced copay collection process reduced staff workload by nearly two hours a day. 

“Before, when the front desk took payment, staff had to manually enter it into the practice management system, which was a multi-step process,” said Sally Martin, Director of Revenue Cycle Management at NMO. “Auto-posting patient payments real-time is a huge win and saves on labor.”

Improved patient experience

A two-way communication between patients and doctors is one of the emerging orthopedic best practices. Ortho Northeast provides this to their patients through WELL, allowing ONE to differentiate itself in a crowded marketplace. They saw an impressive 96 percent patient utilization of WELL’s platform and also saw no-shows cut in half.

Tia Brown, Appointment Reception Supervisor at ONE, said, “With the consumerization of healthcare, our patients now have more power than ever before. WELL allows us to focus on retaining them, making them happy, and most importantly focusing on our core competency.”

Similarly, NMO patients have quickly taken a liking to their new and advanced copay collection process. They especially appreciate not having to log in to a separate portal to make payments. NMO also anticipates that, in the future, patients will opt to pay their outstanding balances this way, which will reduce payment lifecycles. 

As for SMOG, with effective orthopedic practice management, the clinic was able to reduce call volume by 20 percent and nearly double the number of those calls answered to a much healthier 85 percent — meaning happier patients and maybe even a quicker return to the ski slopes.

WELL Health recognized as one of the Best Places to Work in Healthcare in 2020

WELL Health has been selected by Modern Healthcare as one of the 2020 Best Places to Work in Healthcare.

The Best Places to Work in Healthcare award program identifies and recognizes outstanding employers in the healthcare industry nationwide. Modern Healthcare partners with the Best Companies Group on the assessment process, which includes an extensive employee survey.

“It has been an especially trying year for the world, and healthcare in particular as COVID-19 ravages our communities and your workplaces,” said Aurora Aguilar, Modern Healthcare’s editor. “But the organizations recognized on this year’s list rose to the top and continued to be a source of strength for their teammates.”

“We congratulate the Best Places to Work in Healthcare for continuing to serve their workforce and communities during such an unprecedented time.”

WELL Health is ranked 56 on the Best Places list and was celebrated at the 2020 Best Places to Work in Healthcare awards gala virtually on October 8 in conjunction with the Workplace of the Future Conference.

“We strive to create an inclusive, collaborative workplace where innovation thrives and employees love coming to work every day,” said Emily Flinn, WELL human resources lead. “Being named to the Best Places to Work in Healthcare list alongside so many excellent organizations is a testament to that effort.”

What makes WELL such a great place to work? We asked some of our teammates across the organization for their take.

Mission

“I really like the mission — the way WELL is addressing communication in healthcare. I like the opportunity to solve one of the worst journeys that exists — the patient journey. It’s the pinnacle of journeys to solve because it affects everybody when they are the most vulnerable.” — Tom McIntyre, VP of Operations.

Impact

“While my initial goal was to work in clinical medicine, in my current position I feel I have an immediate impact on many patient lives, and that’s rewarding. I’m excited to come to work every day because our team strives to make going to the doctor as easy as meeting up with a friend.”— Grant Lilya, Client Success Manager

Opportunity

“The great thing about being at an early-stage company is that you can play a large part in shaping how the product works and see your ideas make their way into the product. There was a lot of freedom and opportunity to wear many hats while we rapidly prototyped and expanded.” — Zack Leman, Senior Backend Engineer

Collaboration

“My co-workers’ willingness to help is so refreshing. It’s great to go and grab a coffee with someone and also know they have my back at work too.” — Alexx Hoholik, Client Success Executive.

Join the team!

We are always eager to bring new people into the company who share our values. If this sounds like you, head on over to our WELL careers page to see current open positions! ♥

The response to uncertainty is scalable agility

 

When U.S. life was disrupted in early March, healthcare systems found themselves at the nexus of both the problems and the solutions.

Seemingly overnight, processes that had been carefully crafted and stress-tested over years — sometimes decades — were disrupted. And even worse, many of the emergency procedures that had been catalogued and periodically rehearsed proved insufficient for the new reality.

Trends in cancellations and a shift to telehealth

As the threat of COVID-19 came into public awareness, changes to health systems’ standard operations changed drastically. During the last week of March 2020, WELL clients saw a 78 percent increase in cancelled and rescheduled outpatient appointments.

As the characteristics and duration of the pandemic became better understood by health systems and patients, there was a lightning-fast shift to telehealth as an alternative care delivery mechanism. Technology and engagement initiatives that had previously languished in drawn out prioritization processes suddenly rocketed to must-do status.

WELL clients also saw virtual appointments increase by 15 fold over just ten days between March 13 and March 23, reaching a peak of 43 percent of all visits being completed by telehealth by the middle of April.

Cedars-Sinai ramps up messaging

Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles leveraged WELL to immediately ramp up its messaging, reaching benchmarks that would have been impossible in a traditional call center model. Cedars successfully rescheduled 15,000 visits from in-person to telehealth in March. Moreover, through the use of bidirectional intelligent communication, the rescheduling was done without the need to increase staff.

“WELL has been instrumental in helping us deploy timely communication to our scheduled patients with a digital agility we previously didn’t have,” said Darren Dworkin Senior Vice President of Enterprise Information Services and Chief Information Officer at Cedars-Sinai.

What has changed

Many of the changes and innovations developed during the pandemic will not be turned back. They will be a part of a new normal that is only now starting to come into focus.

Distance delivery of care through telehealth has reached a new level of acceptance by both clinicians and patients. Moving forward, there will be pressure on payors to move to adequate reimbursement for this model of care. In turn, health systems will likely be incentivized to accommodate expenses by further right-sizing facilities and staffing. Legislative and policy changes will be required.

Health systems will need to build resilient organizations that will withstand sudden and prolonged surges. Changes to technology capacity and delivery, staffing, facilities, supply chain and reserves will be considered.

Patient education and communication will need to be sustained at the level experienced during the pandemic. Information about community issues, health system facility issues, and individual appointment and health information will need to be at a near-steady stream. And myriad patient preferences for receiving this information will have to be managed.

Capacity on demand

When the pandemic has been quelled, every health system in the country will take up the challenge of how to better prepare for the next time. Preparation involves building “capacity on demand” into every aspect of healthcare delivery.

At WELL, we built capacity on demand into our platform. This enabled us to handle the surge in communication during the pandemic. Moving forward, the WELL architecture is ready whenever additional capacity may next be needed. Its technology can ramp communication 10x without requiring any additional inputs or staffing. It can also maintain a consistent lower level of communication while reducing staff.

Similarly, the same messaging rubric can be applied to managed clinical journeys — effectively driving wellness between visits. Coupled with your existing systems for scheduling, health records, billing and collections and patient education, WELL will amplify your return on investment in those systems by dramatically improving patient engagement and responsiveness. ♥

WELL Health provides innovative experience for Houston Methodist patients during COVID-19 pandemic

 

WELL Health delivered more than 260,000 text messages in a single day to Houston-area residents to coordinate virtual visits during pandemic shutdowns.

WELL Health helped Houston Methodist coordinate a surge in virtual care visits during the coronavirus pandemic, amounting to 50 times more virtual visits than prior to the pandemic.

In a single day, WELL enabled the health system to send more than 260,000 text messages to patients to educate them about virtual care, schedule visits, and answer questions about care options during COVID-19.

“The ability to communicate back and forth, assuring patients that we are here for them both virtually and in-person is crucial as we continue to safely provide care in the midst of this pandemic,” said Tesha Montgomery, vice president of operations and patient access at Houston Methodist.

Increasing capacity to coordinate virtual visits

During March, Houston Methodist used its new Center for Innovation Technology Hub to quickly train hundreds of providers on how to deliver virtual care. Daily training within the Houston Methodist Physician Organization over a two-week period led to the number of virtual providers skyrocketing from 66 to nearly 900 across 37 different specialties. This allowed the health system to reach a daily average of over 2,500 virtual visits, compared with an average of 50 virtual visits per day prior to the pandemic.

“Houston Methodist is an innovator in everything — one of the very best. They move quickly, they move decisively, and they are great co-development partners. Truly some of the best in healthcare,” said Guillaume de Zwirek, WELL founder and CEO.

Houston Methodist creates “virtual waiting room”

For in-person appointments, WELL enabled Houston Methodist to create a “virtual waiting room” for over 30 different outpatient clinics. This allowed patients to safely wait in their cars upon arrival and receive text messages instructing them to enter the building when their visit would begin. A virtual waiting room reduces viral transmission and reassures patients who are fearful of entering a hospital waiting room.

WELL and Houston Methodist have also collaborated on text-based referral scheduling and in the coming months, WELL is helping Houston Methodist with patient appointment coordination around essential routine care and new self-scheduling capabilities. ♥

WELL named to 2020 Central Coast Best Places to Work List

 

WELL Health was named to the 2020 Central Coast Best Places to Work by Pacific Coast Business Times.

WELL joined the ranks of LinkedIn, AppFolio, Carpe Data, and The Trade Desk on the Best Places to Work list of 50 large and small employers on the Central Coast.

“It’s such an honor to be listed alongside so many exceptional companies,” said Guillaume de Zwirek, WELL founder and CEO. “We have an innovative team, and we’re not only adapting to the changing realities of business but also ensuring our clients thrive.”

Pacific Coast Business Times ranked businesses on employee participation and responses.

“We’ve paid close attention to the new realities of the workplace and our honorees have all, in their own way, overcome the challenges of working from home, safe distancing and adapting to the needs of their employees,” said Henry Dubroff, Pacific Coast Business Times Editor.

A live event honoring the Central Coast Best Places to Work recipients will be scheduled at a future date.

WELL employees chimed in on what makes working at WELL so special:

What is your favorite part about working at WELL?

“In any department here, you find people who are very good at what they do and more importantly very passionate about the work that is done,” Stephanie Trujillo 

“I love what we’re doing, the impact I’m having on millions of patients. I love how if you have an idea, it can be implemented here at WELL. There is freedom of thought. Everyone has an open-door policy. If you need to talk to someone on the WELL team, you’ll get that time with them — whether they’re the CEO or an intern, everyone is always open to a conversation,” Grant Lilya

“[Guillaume] is open and not just looking out for what’s best for himself or the company, but also the people who work at the company. I think that applies to our culture here. We care about people. We have a high bar for hiring new people and high expectations, and we treat each other well. That’s one of the reasons I’m still here — we have a good product and good people,” Zack Leman

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