How combining technology & the human touch will drive optimal patient outcomes Featured

Written by  Mary Rechtoris | Tuesday, 25 October 2016 00:00
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Technology can change the way providers deliver care and engage patients to be advocates for their own health. Following a type 1 diabetes diagnosis, David Weingard became heavily involved with JDRF, a type 1 diabetes research funding and advocacy organization. He participated in triathlons and traveled to JDRF offices throughout the nation. Mr. Weingard founded Fit4D, a technological platform that scales diabetes educators' expertise to provide diabetes with a consistent care plan.

"If you work with a patient who is in denial about having diabetes and you have 10 different diabetes educators working with that patient, you could have 10 people trying to solve that problem in 10 different ways," Mr. Weingard says. "In Fit4D, we figured out how to use an intelligent algorithm to give talking points that make a difference."


Fit4D gives patients direct instructions on how to manage their disease based on providers' expertise. Fit4D patient volume has grown 400 percent year-over-year and their mission is to provide a form of Fit4D to the 29 million Americans and 450 million people worldwide with diabetes.


"You could tell someone to go for a walk after dinner, but they may not be able to walk safely in their neighborhood," he says. "With Fit4D, there is tactical work that specifically helps them, such as telling them where there is healthy free food near them. The technology makes a difference in getting patients to follow-through with the instructions."


The technological platform has two primary clients — pharmaceutical/medical device companies and payers. Healthcare's emphasis on yielding superior patient outcomes at lower costs is spurring payers to find new ways to meet this goal.


In New York, more than 30 percent of Spanish-speaking residents have type 2 diabetes, many of which reside in underserved communities. Payers covering these lives are seeking a way to improve their quality of life, and Fit4D provides payers a way to accomplish this aim through the human touch.


"These patients need somebody in their corner," Mr. Weingard says. "Apps are good for getting some patients getting engaged, but this is a relatively small percent of the diabetes population. The larger percent needs some type of human touch."


Providers write patient scripts for the platform, and depending on a patient's plan, payers working with Fit4D will cover the cost.


"There has been a big shift with payers and accountable care organizations moving toward result-based programs like Fit4D," Mr. Weingard says. "They are sharing the risk, and some don't know what to do."


Technology is changing the way healthcare is delivered, leaving many providers concerned about keeping pace with the influx of new applications available at their fingertips. What may get lost in the hustle and bustle of the digital age is the human element, which may detract from quality care.


"As technology gets richer and there is more data available, it will enable us to do more effective coaching," Mr. Weingard says. "What I don't see going away is the need for the human touch. People are uninformed about diabetes and need support. As much as technology will mature, we are all human and need a human being to help us through these things."


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