For today’s CTOs, Success Lies in Knowing Limits of Technology

For Today’s CTOs, Success Lies in Knowing Technology’s Limits and the Power of Personalization

Accolade CTO Harish

Harish Naidu
Chief Technology Officer, Accolade

For anyone responsible for managing healthcare benefits today, we are amidst a perfect storm. Costs are skyrocketing, chronic disease is on the rise, and people are increasingly in the driver’s seat of their own healthcare — ready or not. But after spending two decades in enterprise technology management, I actually see this time of uncertainty as a time of extreme opportunity — for employers, providers, health insurers and people. And for today’s chief technology officers (CTOs), especially those who touch healthcare in some way, the real opportunity — and for many, the real challenge — is in recognizing when technology should take the lead and when it is just one piece of the puzzle.

In today’s value-driven landscape, healthcare CTOs must be well versed in both tech innovation and clinical health, skilled at finding new ways to apply data, science and technology to improve the deeply personal experience that is healthcare. For example, analytics, machine learning and natural language processing are arguably at the cornerstone of healthcare innovation today, holding incredible promise to advance clinical care and improve the industry from the inside out. However, intelligent technologies are not the only ingredients for success. To spur health engagement today demands a hybrid approach — a blended high-tech and high-touch care experience – one that is highly-personalized, highly-efficient and deeply rooted in clinical expertise.

Accolade’s mission to provide an unmatched, targeted healthcare experience and ultimately change how people interact with their care began as a hypothesis. We believed that if we could engage with people earlier, before they enter the healthcare system, we could carve out a personalized experience that is capable of making a measurable impact on healthcare costs, outcomes and satisfaction. And with current client engagement numbers of 70 percent and cost savings anywhere from 5-15 percent, our hypothesis has been more than validated. The next step? Scaling our capabilities in order to bring this incredible value to the industry at large.

Looking ahead at how technology can continue to bend the cost and quality healthcare curves, my team and I are focused on finding new ways for data and analytics to help achieve truly person-centric care. By leveraging data from health plans and employers along with our unique engagement data we are able to offer insights that provide a personalized pathway for our people as they engage with the healthcare system. As we look ahead, wearables, bio nanosensors and mobile health devices are increasingly being used to track vital information and ultimately improve care management. These tools and technologies can provide rich streams of biometric data that augment our engagement data and can be analyzed and acted upon in real-time.

Accolade Health Assistant helping navigate healthcare for an employee

At Accolade, we know that the more we can integrate these new, extremely valuable data sources into the care delivery equation, the better equipped our Health Assistants (HAs) will be to identify opportunities for care interventions and combat an issue before it exists. Data-driven learning models will help empower our HAs to make the best care recommendations possible, while mobile tools will simultaneously help broaden our reach and improve access to care.

Adding even more fuel to our urgency to to revamp the healthcare experience? Forty percent of care today is either wasted or unnecessary. What’s worse, 32 percent of people feel they lack knowledge of their options, and 50 percent rank themselves as completely illiterate when it comes to their healthcare.

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These figures alone should serve as a wake-up call, but if not, consider this: the World Health Organization predicts that chronic disease will contribute to 73 percent of worldwide deaths come 2020. No matter which segment you sit in, the clock is ticking and the cost is far more than monetary.

As the cost burden continues to shift and rise, so does the need for better health management and personal health engagement. Accolade is at the center of solving this need, integrating human interaction with technology and data science in order to personalize care, improve quality and enable better care management in both the short and long term. I am excited about the opportunity to make a significant social impact, working with people who have like-minded values and applying technology to help scale the business.

The demand for intelligent digital health solutions to combat the industry’s deep inefficiencies will only continue to grow, and I am eager to chart the course for Accolade’s technology roadmap and use my experience to improve the lives of our clients.


i 2015 Accolade Consumer Healthcare Index, 1 Institute of Medicine: Health Literacy: A Prescription to End Confusion 2004, 2 Ron Goetzel, et.al. JOEM April 2002