Hi, HIStalk! Long time, no write. Things have been really busy, but I am still making time to write some columns here and there.
This week’s column focuses on B.well Connected Health, a healthcare technology company that provides a platform for healthcare consumers to stay connected to their providers and their data in a digital, personalized health experience. I spoke with CEO Kristen Valdes, who founded B.well in 2016 as “a way to transform the way consumers interact with the healthcare delivery system by giving them access to all of their health data in one place.”
Valdes has been an executive in the healthcare field for over 20 years, working in digital health and helping to start one of the first private Medicare Advantage plans in the country. When her daughter began facing an undiagnosed medical issue, she began to see holes in the healthcare information delivery system and felt that she could create a business to fill those needs.
“When my own child was born with a very significant autoimmune condition, here I was, this healthcare industry expert, and I could not navigate the system on behalf of my daughter,” she said. “She had a near-fatal incident because two EMRs couldn’t communicate with one another.”
It took seven years to get her daughter properly diagnosed, and seeing the failures in the communication of healthcare systems drove Valdes to create a technology company that could mend the breaks. B.well was founded as a system to allow users to have access to their in-person, digital, and virtual care at all times and to share that information with whomever they want.
“We are a B2B business. We sell into health systems, insurance companies, and pharmacies as a way to aid them in their digital transformation towards the consumerization of health,” Valdes said. “B.well finds a way to connect services that businesses offer into consumer lives, even though 99% of the time, they are outside of the doctor’s office.”
Consumers need to navigate their medical needs and B.well wanted to make it easy for users to have access to all their data, records, appointments, recommendations, and more, all in one place, Valdes said. Though it is not an EHR, B.well is bi-directionally integrated with EHRs.
The process of creating a delivery system started with many questions, including how such a system could get access to healthcare data and give it back to users. “You cannot engage someone in a personalized way if you don’t know anything about them,” Valdes said. “Data is critical to the consumer.”
Valdes had to make sure that the technology would not impact an EHR’s flow. The integration of B.well is there to connect consumers to their records and information. Regulations were put into place with technology standards that allowed open API interfaces, an important piece to the puzzle. Open API interfaces unlock the ability to push and pull information seamlessly between systems, Valdes said.
The B.well team did surveys and analyses to see where the user pain points in healthcare data are, creating a basic features list based on the results. Users wanted a simple, affordable system that allows quick and easy access to providers and simple directions for when they need to do something.
“We started with consumers first and architected what they would want to see out of the healthcare system. Then we reverse engineered that into the data holders and stakeholders of healthcare where all the information as mapped that would be needed to pull together,” Valdes said. “That’s where we determined that a net-neutral platform for consumers was possible.”
B.well also helps providers move their focus into population health as they adjust from fee-for-service models to value-based care. When physicians can see data in real time and track which patients are going to appointments and filling medication accurately, they are able to see their results and adjust care based on outcomes.
“Because we connect consumers to their data with their consent, we also empower them to share that data back to their provider if they choose,” Valdes said. “Healthcare providers have not historically had the visibility to that information, nor have they had the ability to see the interactions with the healthcare system that happens outside of their own offices. As we shift to value-based care is, it’s much easier to help a provider take risk, meaning that they are going to be responsible for someone’s health outcome.”
Outcomes are important in value-based care, and to get real results, engagement is necessary. B.well sports a 64% engagement rate versus the industry average 17%, meaning that users both engage and take action towards their health by using the B.well technology system. B.well knows that consumers do not want to log in to a health application once a day, but they will respond when messages are relevant.
“The way that we define engagement is that consumers not only log in to the application, but they actually take an action towards bettering their health,” Valdes said. “Because we have access to a consumer’s data, we only target them with information and nudges at the point of time that it’s appropriate in their care.”
B.well also recently partnered with Mastercard as a way to enhance the safety of ID verification for B.well’s services. To verify identity and increase the safety of data and information sharing and matching, B.well will use Mastercard’s biometric tech to validate the identity of users. This has already been implemented in B.well’s use of Mastercard through ThedaCare’s Ripple health management tool.
“In-person encounters are not always the first encounter we have in healthcare,” Valdes said. “We partnered with Mastercard to improve digital identity beyond what healthcare offers today.”
That’s it for today! I enjoyed learning about a healthcare delivery system that interacts with EMRs and EHRs to better connect users to their healthcare data and information. Thanks for reading!
Katie The Intern