Embracing AI in healthcare: A balance of innovation and compliance
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Abraham Lincoln once said, “I don’t think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.” Today, we are going to talk about using the wisdom we’ve accumulated in the past 18 months to make healthcare work for our people. That’s what this moment demands of us. During the pandemic we’ve learned – or re-learned what we already know to be true – through the painful loss of so much. Everything changed.
At Accolade, we believe we have a great opportunity ahead of us. We believe that every company leader has a choice to make. If there was ever a time when momentum has built to unleash significant change in how we live, how we work, how we treat our people and their families, it’s now. From the heartbreak of loss to the promise of learning, it’s our responsibility to look for the gifts that we can carry forward.
So that’s what we’re doing. We’re creating a way to make the broken American healthcare system work. It’s exciting. It’s real. And it’s going to change the way we think about health benefits, employee engagement and how to best care for our people.
We believe we have an opportunity to be better employers and partners to our people and their families, so that as they thrive, our businesses will thrive. The pandemic put pressure on many things when it comes to taking care of our people. Most of these are not new issues, but rather are old themes that were routinely ignored.
Pre-pandemic, in 2019 when unemployment was low and the economy was humming, one survey of 6,600 workers found that less than half were happy with their jobs. After 18 months of remote or hybrid work, Zoom calls, home learning and no commuting, it should be no surprise that more than 3.66 million people quit their jobs in May and 65% of Americans are actively considering new opportunities. Our people are re-evaluating how they want to live and work, including hybrid work models and non-traditional employment, all of which should affect how we think about attracting and retaining talent.
The importance of mental health has also come into sharp focus, with Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka ignoring all stigmas and showing the world what self-care looks like. For some people, quitting jobs that aren’t serving them well is the right answer to their mental health quandary. For others, simply admitting they need help is a first step that feels more acceptable these days.
Add to this the failures of our healthcare system during COVID. Nothing has shined a brighter spotlight on what isn’t working than the pandemic, creating an opportunity for all companies to make meaningful changes in benefits and healthcare delivery. We need to make healthcare accessible to everyone, no matter what ZIP code they live in. As a nation, we need to understand that mental health is inextricably linked with physical health. We need to do better.
If the past 18 months have taught us anything, it’s that it’s long past time to improve the employee healthcare experience. In my view, this is a gift. We have a clear mandate and critical mass to affect change.
And that’s what we’re doing at Accolade. It’s time to change the way we deliver healthcare to our people.
Today, Accolade is announcing the creation of a new category called Personalized Healthcare. We are, in fact, announcing that we’re effectively an entirely new company, delivering healthcare in a way that nobody else in the market can. It’s a bold statement. But we have a clear vision of what healthcare can and should be in this country, and we’re building to that vision.
It starts with what we — and our customers — believe to be true. We have several core beliefs that drive how we’ve configured Accolade, our team and our solutions portfolio. These beliefs have always been true for us, but the pandemic has given them an urgency and an edge they didn’t have before. They have always made us different and contrarian to the rest of the industry, and it’s this viewpoint that makes us perfectly suited to invent a better future.
Below are two of our most foundational beliefs.
First, healthcare is a human experience. Humanity is at the center of everything we do. If employers want their people and their families to thrive, we need to engage them when they need us most. There are so many moments that matter, including:
When an employee wants to see a primary care physician (PCP), they want one that will stay with them forever, not an urgent care doctor doubling as a PCP.
If an employee is diagnosed with cancer and needs a second opinion, they don’t want a written report sent to them in weeks. They want to look eye to eye with a specialist within days, not weeks, and they want a human who can give them peace and comfort.
When an employee has a question about the $1,500 medical bill that might bankrupt their family, they don’t want a bot trying to read into their word choices, guessing what they might need. We don’t want that either.
Second, it’s time to stop rewarding a system that does not work. Value-based care should replace fee-for-service healthcare in the U.S., and we’re here to enable that for the customers we serve. We do not aspire to make money propagating the current broken healthcare system. We want to fix the system and build a business doing so. Value-based care starts with accountability and transparency. Let's create a system that measures employee satisfaction and engagement at its core.
With Personalized Healthcare, we provide a personal, data-driven and value-based approach. Others have tried it with some modicum of success. Advanced primary care models have worked in limited scope populations — largely within Medicare — but run into challenges when it comes to commercial and rural populations. Kaiser Permanente’s model works to the degree allowed within the limitations of its own network, which eliminates doctor choice for the patient.
At Accolade, we have a unique set of personalized advocacy and healthcare solutions that, when combined, create a healthcare experience that members love. We’ve taken 12 years of personalized advocacy experience and have added care delivery — virtual primary care, mental health and expert medical opinion — to build a set of solutions that puts human connection at the center. You can read more about our solutions portfolio in this post by Umair Khan, senior vice president, solutions management and marketing.
It’s a powerful way to deliver healthcare. We’re taking this moment in our nation’s history, when the winds of change are gusting behind us, and are making meaningful change a reality. We’ve created an experience that gets people to the right care and improves health outcomes. That’s value based instead of transactional. And it’s an experience that people will love.
Together, we can use our collective wisdom to make a difference.