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Optimizing Patient Care Delivery and Support
Episode

Mark Clermont, CEO at Cecelia Health

Optimizing Patient Care Delivery and Support

Patient care goes beyond a doctor’s appointment or a healthcare facility visit. In this episode, we hear from Mark Clermont, CEO of Cecelia Health, about using technology to improve patient care delivery in terms of support, accessibility, clarity, and relationship-building when navigating the puzzling healthcare system. Many patients need help adhering to or even initiating their care when they go home.
Mark speaks of virtual modalities in hybrid care systems and the importance of human engagement in building a relationship between the health care provider and the patient. He explains that these current approaches place healthcare for patients in a promising position thanks to advances in telemedicine, data availability, and the focus on building meaningful human relationships.
Tune in to this episode to listen about how Cecelia Health is working to simplify and improve the patient care journey with promising digital toolsets!

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Optimizing Patient Care Delivery and Support

About Mark Clermont:

Mark Clermont, CEO of Cecelia Health, has nearly 30 years of experience building and growing competitive businesses across the healthcare spectrum, including population health, value-based care, digital therapeutics, and clinical decision support. Before joining Cecelia Health, he transformed digital care delivery at Lumeon, served as President of Provant Health (now part of Quest Diagnostics), and helped lead Wolters Kluwer/UpToDate to become a global leader in point-of-care clinical decision support. He is passionate about the promise of technology to foster meaningful human connections between caring clinicians and people who need support navigating the complex healthcare system.

 

Outcomes Rocket_Mark Clermont: Audio automatically transcribed by Sonix

Outcomes Rocket_Mark Clermont: this mp3 audio file was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the best speech-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors.

Saul Marquez:
Hey everybody, welcome back to the Outcomes Rocket, Saul Marquez here. Today, I have the amazing Mark Clermont with us. He’s not, he’s no stranger to the Outcomes Rocket and no stranger to healthcare. He comes to us as the CEO of Cecelia Health. He’s got nearly 30 years of experience building and growing competitive businesses across the healthcare spectrum, including population health, value-based care, digital therapeutics, and clinical decision support. Before joining Cecelia as their CEO, he transformed digital care delivery at Lumeon, you probably heard his interview on our podcast when he was with Lumeon. He served as president of Provant Health, now part of Quest Diagnostics, and helped lead Wolters Kluwer/UpToDate to become a global leader in point-of-care clinical decision support. He’s passionate about the promise of technology to foster meaningful human connections between caring clinicians and people who need support navigating the complex health system. We all know it’s not easy, and having people that are domain experts like Mark make it crucial to actually achieve that goal. So, Mark, such a pleasure to be here with you again and to have you on the podcast!

Mark Clermont:
Yeah, thanks for having me, Saul, much appreciated.

Saul Marquez:
Absolutely. So, hey, by the way, it was great to see you at ViVE. You had fun there?

Mark Clermont:
Absolutely. I tell you, one, it was just great to be back in action. You know, it was, I went to HLTH up in Boston back in October. That was certainly still really in the throes of the pandemic and wasn’t quite the liberated experience of Miami Beach and ViVE. And I have to say, you know, it was refreshing to see faces that I hadn’t seen in a long time. Those few people were a little out of practice with their social skills, but for the most part, it was made for a very entertaining time and great to reconnect.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah, I agree with you. And then also some of the new people, right? Like I met a lot of people virtually, and then I ran into them and I was like, oh wow, he’s a lot taller than I thought, or, because, like, Zoom is the equalizer, right?

Mark Clermont:
It is, it is. And you see, yeah, the height thing is there, there’s, of course, the camera adds a few pounds and you know, all those things and so, so people, it’s actually a strange thing when you meet someone and say, hey, you look just like the camera, this is an unusual thing, Saul.

Saul Marquez:
It’s the exception.

Mark Clermont:
Yeah.

Saul Marquez:
Love it, man. Well, hey, look, for the listeners that haven’t had a chance to get to know you. What is it that inspires your work in health care?

Mark Clermont:
Well, I mean, you know, my dad was, is now a long-retired surgeon, and so growing up around his ethos, and he got, he’s one of those people that got into medicine for the right reasons to help people deliver care. On top of being a surgeon and all of the demands of that, he adopted seven children in addition to the three natural-born, so I’m one of ten kids, and we had this round, always, foster kids staying with us in home, etc. So really just one hero of, of an example to set for all of his kids and frankly, anybody who’s interested in medicine. So it’s hard not to get inspired by that. Fast forward, my dad was trying to, I think, hoping that one of his ten kids would get into medicine. Maybe I was on that trajectory but got the business bug instead. And so I’m just grateful that I was able to pivot into business, not as the administrator, but, you know, get into business and help actually deliver care for patients, you know, as you mentioned in the outset, a very successful run with bringing UpToDate to market and one of the more influential toolsets to get in front of clinicians, still widely used across the globe and very influential and affecting patient care, so very proud to be able to do that and then transition now to working directly with patients. You just can’t help but be inspired by the stories.

Saul Marquez:
That’s awesome, Mark. So what does your dad say about the work you’re doing?

Mark Clermont:
You know, at first, he was disappointed in the choice of business, of course, but once he started to see, he was the guy that you’d see on the weekends with stacks and stacks of journals, and just, he would churn through those, and no sooner would he start to make a dent in the pile and new journals would show up, and obviously that goes back a ways, before pre-Internet days, so you’re actually reading material. But fast forward, actually, it was the inspiration for UpToDate was that very thing, how do, how to physicians stay up to date in research? And at the end of the day, does that change how I practice medicine today with this patient who’s sitting in front of me? And you could carry that torch forward, that same construct forward, make a fantastic decision for a patient today, informed by all of the latest surveys and research, informed by maybe even cross adjudication across specialties. But, boy, when that patient leaves that door, that clinical office and they go back to, into the wild, so to speak, it’s hard to stay adherent to your therapy, it’s hard to stay adherent to your protocol, taking your medications, all, you name it. And really that’s the inspiration for Cecelia Health, actually, is to work with patients focusing specifically on chronic disease states. In fact, the company was founded by an individual who was in adulthood, diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. And so we became, Cecelia Health became this engine for, really, an early adopter of virtual care to help support patients in, specifically, diabetes. We’re now known as a Center of excellence in diabetes, working with patients from pediatrics to geriatrics, agnostic to insurances, devices, medications, insulins, you name it. And here, this consistent theme is that people are just, they’re growing more and more confused about their patient care. So anyway, before I jump into what Cecelia Health is all about, that’s, those were all part of the inspirations, and Dad, Dad just loves seeing that I’m doing what I’m doing, and I’m grateful for again, for his inspiration.

Saul Marquez:
Well, hey, a shout-out to Dr. Clermont. If you’re listening to this, you made a big impact here because the moves that Mark is making are huge. So, so let’s dive into Cecelia, Mark, tell us about what you guys do, why it’s different, and how you’re adding value to the ecosystem.

Mark Clermont:
Yeah, yeah. So I mentioned we started in diabetes, along the way, built up this national network. We’re now both a national virtual medical practice, licensed to practice medicine in 50 states. This cadre of registered nurses, registered dietitians, many of whom have specialized in, have gone on to become CDC … Education, diabetes educators or cardiovascular specialists, patients with obesity, chronic kidney disease, etc. And so we’ve expanded the scope and sphere of individuals, all of whom kind of fall in that same construct of needing to effectuate some change in adherence to therapy. Along the way, we started to realize that Life Sciences, Pharmaceutical companies have these wonderful drugs that are highly effective, and they too are interested in helping patients stay adherent to their therapies. And you can look at that in pure sense, the altruistic sense, and say these are medications that are extremely helpful. And if you have congestive heart failure and you need to adhere to your medication, and if you do, your quality of life goes up immeasurably and your length of life goes up immeasurably. And so we’re starting to, what we’ve realized, that is enriching this care journey for a patient where, effectively, by reducing confusion. So we’re plugged in virtually into hybrid care models. We enriched the care journey, so that’s number one. We’re doing, we’re building a bridge across from Life Sciences into the traditional healthcare sector and plugging that in through this virtual modality so that we are part of a hybrid care chain. And then, the third piece here is engaging in research focused on optimizing care delivery. You could look at the social determinants of care piece, you could look at diabetes technology, you could look at cardiovascular technologies that have emerged. Again, all of this they’re, all of these things creating yet another app, yet another thing to help distract a patient, and, from actually engaging in ultimately their health, and so that’s the underpinning for what we do. And it’s a pretty interesting thing to see that a virtual care practice can plug into and work with patients across Life Sciences, pharma, clinical trials, and also have a place that serves within the traditional healthcare sector. So it’s kind of a unique business.

Saul Marquez:
It is, it is. So it’s about health care delivery, licensed in 50 states, it’s about adherence, it’s about education, it’s about simplifying. I hear simplifying in what you guys do. So talk to us about that. And then, and then, how are you guys different or available than other platforms out there today?

Mark Clermont:
Well, you know, you could look at, it’s easy to look at, I think this is, the data is out there around, some very great companies that built these digital toolsets and made them available for patients, again, with all manner of different clinical conditions. And to a certain degree, they’re effective. To a certain degree, certain types of patients engage well with those digital toolsets. But at the same time, there’s been this collective realization that as these digital toolsets have started to take shape, we’re also learning at how effective or ineffective they are for different patient demographics, and that isn’t always an age-related thing. There was this wide assumption that older Americans are more challenged with technology adoption. We’ve found that to be somewhat true, but not, you’d be surprised that the data, older Americans are just as willing to engage with technology as younger Americans. It’s, there’s more to this equation. And what we’ve found is a lot of jumpiness in digital. And so if you think about individuals, a new app that comes out, a new thing to download onto your mobile device, maybe you have a new connected pen for your insulin injection, maybe you’ve got a new heart-rate monitor that was sent to you to try to understand your heart dynamics a little better, biomarkers a little better. In addition to all these at-home testing, you just, we’re just bombarded with more and more information as patients. And frankly, it’s just hard and you’re asking more questions. And so you think about all the things that, so here we are this learning about digital, I think, I think we’re in this Gartner’s Trough of Disillusionment and we’re just emerging into this age of enlightenment that we’re realizing that these digital tools are great. They will continue to evolve, they’ll continue to get better. At the same time, you cannot forget about the impact of human engagement. And when you, especially a clinically trained individual, and the trust that gets developed, it’s the relationship that we cannot forget about. A digital toolset is great, it’s helpful, it cannot create or replace that human relationship. And frankly, this is what our data shows and this is the magic of what, when we talk about simplifying the patient care. If you think about all of the attention that you get when you’re in clinic, and it’s, often it’s fantastic. You’re getting technical support, you’re getting emotional support, behavioral therapy support in addition to your clinical safety, as well as your diagnose and treating and prescribing. All those things that you expect and experience in home, in the clinic. When you leave, how do you, can you not get lost in the system? And so that’s what we talk a lot about, is, let’s not lose a patient when they leave the clinic. Let’s, let them enjoy a similar experience, experience of continuity. And that’s what we find to be the most engaging. So we bring clinical expertise. You asked a question about what makes us different, we focus on clinical expertise and making those individuals available, whether that’s in a clinical set, a clinical-grade or a medical-grade patient encounter, or at the level of education and coaching and care navigation, etc. It’s a vertical support model that plugs into, that enables hybrid care models. So we’re not looking to say Cecelia Health Primary Care Physician A, turn over to Cecelia Health. No, we’re going to work as an extension of that primary care physician’s practice, we’ll work in their badge. And, so there’s continuity there. And, so you think about the support, coaching, monitoring, telemedicine capability that we’re, that we enable. And then you’re bringing some personalized approach because you are still keeping the human involved in the process. So we’re not replacing human-only in replace of digital. You’re collectively migrating together with the patient. It’s remarkably effective and effective at continued lasting engagement. And, so you’ll see numbers, for example, we talk about outcomes here, see, the Outcomes Rockets, Saul, so, we talk about outcomes. If you’re on a life-saving drug and you need to keep taking it, we’ve seen adherence rates for medication increase from less than 90 days when we start working with a patient to over 303 days, 12 months later. So it’s 12 months later, a patient continues to take their medication, that is incredibly impactful. We’re also seeing a 10% plus lift in initiation. So, meaning, you may write a prescription, or all too often we’re catching patients as they’re being discharged from emergency room. They’re sent home with a battery of prescriptions and devices and instructions that so-and-so is going to call you in 24 hours, and then what happens if that, if a nurse doesn’t call within 24 hours or seven days later, all of a sudden, so much of medicine, and so much of medicine are these turn-by-turn paper instructions. And what happens if you, if you get off course? There’s not a Waze or a Google Maps that helps get you back on course. And so, having these opportunities to speak with a clinician, clinically trained individual in these settings can help you get back on track an.

Saul Marquez:
Mark, that’s.

Mark Clermont:
All of these things make the impact.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah, I think it’s great. And, and so a couple of questions just to make sure we’re on the same page, this sounds amazing. Is, so you are then assigning a clinician that supports a patient and follows them from when they leave the doctor or the hospital to when they get home and through their recovery or get-back-healthy journey?

Mark Clermont:
That’s, that’s effectively it. It’s, the great ….

Saul Marquez:
Not a chatbot, it’s a person.

Mark Clermont:
It’s a person. Now, you may also have there digital tools, and some people like digital tools also. And so, so there’s a layering in and, a personalization. You will get some digital, if you’re more inclined to more digital and less human, that’s fine too.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah. I’m not trashing chatbots, I was just wanting to differentiate here. Yeah.

Mark Clermont:
Yeah. I mean so, but it’s an important point, that it’s actually part of the secret sauce, Saul, is, is if you’re looking to build a relationship, build a relationship with the same person. And so even if you’re, we’ve seen this advent-of-call-center-based services, mainly staffed with clinical navigators and that kind of thing, and they’re great services, but if you’re going to talk to a different person every single time, you’re not building a relationship. And so it’s useful in that moment, It’s almost a reflection of these episodic, episodes of care mindset that has permeated how we deliver medicine for the last 50 years. So great tool in and of itself, but again, from a relationship standpoint, how do you build that accountability for your continued care? It’s highly effective in chronic care management.

Saul Marquez:
Well, thank you for clarifying, Mark. And folks, like, you got to take that away today. This is a person, right? So you think scale, Mark and team have people that stay with your patients, and those relationships are what make the numbers work. It just, you know, that communication leads to that relationship and it leads to that number. And I got to tell you, Mark, I think it’s awesome that you guys have found a way to scale this. It’s so cool. Now, the thing that I’m curious about, too, is that this stuff is not easy. So what’s one of the biggest setbacks you’ve experienced to date and what was the key learning that came as a result of that?

Mark Clermont:
Well. I think, we, we’ve experienced a number of things. You’re humans working with humans and you’re leveraging digital tools in a varying degree. So, so, and this is the nature of personalization and it’s also a moving target with more technology, more apps, more you name it, new drugs, etc., coming into, into the mix. And so that’s the nature of our, I wouldn’t call this a setback. It’s key learning here, is that individuals continue to be bombarded with information, some of it good, some of it not good, some of it kind of geared towards influencing certain decisions. And if, how do you then enable a clinician without forcing them into scripted activities, but give them the right kind of call guidance so that they can have a productive call, you can scale that call, scale that human engagement balanced with the digital piece, that’s the hard part. And so, I wouldn’t call it a setback so much. It’s really a key learning that if you want to scale people, that’s hard, but what’s also interesting as a learning is, there are a lot of clinicians these days. We know about physician burnout, we know about clinician burnout overall. And hats off to our health practitioners having just been completely abused over these last two and a half years. We’ve asked so much of them and in fact, now we’re asking them to not only continue doing that, giving more and more, but also do things differently. And so hats off to them. At the same time, they’re looking for avenues where they can maybe spend a day at home, two days at home, and actually still deliver care without having to take the beating of working the E.R. floor for 12 hours straight, that kind of thing. So a lot of key learnings along the way over these last two and a half years, that in a scenario like this, hybrid care where you are delivering the, as close as you can, the equivalent attachments, emotional attachments, tech support that you can when you’re in clinic. That’s really the key takeaway here.

Saul Marquez:
That’s beautiful, that’s beautiful. And so, you know, just wanting to dive into the who. So who’s paying for this? Who are you guys, who do you want to attract here, Mark?

Mark Clermont:
So if you’re a health plan and you’re looking to work with party, for a company that works in chronic care management, chronic diseases, that is doing more than just digital, that can flex digital and human and deliver this kind of lasting impacts, these lasting ROIs, then that’s a big deal. And so a health plan can and should be and are frankly very interested in what we’re doing. We engage with them, they’re a big segment of our business. We also work as an extension of healthcare systems. I mentioned on a white, effectively, a white-label basis as a care team extension. But the bigger piece here, and this is the big surprising piece, is that pharma is very willing to invest in quality-continued care for patients, and I’ll qualify that term care because pharma cannot deliver medicine. They’re not, they cannot prescribe, diagnose or treat. But what they can do is help people understand and eliminate confusion. What they can do is do the kinds of things that Cecelia, engage Cecelia Health to do those kinds of things to help patients stick to their plan. And if they need to maybe have a change to their plan, we can then navigate them over the transom, back into the healthcare system itself for ongoing treatment. So who’s paying for it? So we’re talking to, it’s pharma. You’re talking about commercial brands, you’re talking about extensions of clinical trials because those are the same types of needs and wants. Again, patients who really need help when they leave the clinic. And so that’s what it is, Health plans, Life Sciences, and just a remarkable place to sit there, bridging and helping patients across that.

Saul Marquez:
It’s amazing. So, somebody walks off with a script and if it happens to be a drug, like a specialty drug that is supported by a program like this, then they would go home with that support through the pharma in this particular example.

Mark Clermont:
If they’re well engaged, it’s exactly right. So you’re sent home with this information that, hey, not, you’re not alone when we’re sending you home.

Saul Marquez:
Yes.

Mark Clermont:
This patient support program is available for you. Take advantage of it, we’re paying for it. And if you are the, in fact, what happens is oftentimes people will get home. They barely remember, the studies show 31% of people don’t even remember anything when they leave the clinical office, anything. It’s really a staggering number, let alone how to take their meds and when and interactions and that kind of thing, so invariably people have questions. And so with these programs being available, so whether you’re sent home with that or if you’re simply just sent home with a, with let’s say, a prescription for, let’s say, Entresto for congestive heart failure, and you see that there’s, you have questions, you can’t necessarily reach your PCP, maybe you can’t reach your telehealth, telemedicine provider. You see that this patient support program is out there, reach out to them, because they do some really phenomenal things to help support patients in their journey.

Saul Marquez:
I love it. Thank you, Mark. Appreciate you taking me through a use case. And us, I mean, we all want to know how this stuff works, so thank you. What are you most excited about today?

Mark Clermont:
Well, I’ll tell you, it’s an amazing time in healthcare for patients. And to look at it in the sense of this growing, I talk about the age of enlightenment that we’re approaching and starting to implement. This idea that telemedicine, we delivered it out of necessity during the pandemic, we understood a lot, we started to understand what we can, what its limitations are, at the same time, what we’re missing, and that kind of thing. And so here we are in this age of enlightenment, realizing that virtual care has a place within the overall journey, call it a hybrid care model. So that’s number one. Two, you have this completely upended shift in data availability, clinical data availability that’s been enabled through the CURES Act, enabled through TEFCA, the plumbing that allows for very rich clinical history for a patient to flow from one provider to another as part of that trusted exchange framework. It’s phenomenal, it’s absolutely phenomenal, it is transformative for how we as patients experience it. So no longer will we have to do this in-depth rehash every time we go see our PCP. Here’s what I did, here’s what my history is, and even though I know you should know this stuff, we, we met just six months ago, why are you asking me the same questions? All those things. Well, we’re on a new system, that kind of thing. These, these histories are captured and they’re available. So, so this is really an emerging … Interoperability, the power of data, liquidity, absolutely there. And then, this last piece is just the realization that you need human engagement to foster longitudinal engagement with a patient. So it’s not just a digital tool, it’s, build a relationship. And if you can foster that relationship-building, that glue, that’s incredibly powerful. So that’s what I’m excited about.

Saul Marquez:
A lot to be excited about, Mark. And you guys are certainly plugged in and set up in the right way to make a huge impact. So, love this. Thank you, first of all, for the work that you and your team are doing. What closing thought would you leave us all with, and what’s the best way that the listeners could get in touch with you to learn more?

Mark Clermont:
Yeah. I think, closing thoughts, if you’re a patient, reach out to your patient support programs, reach out to your primary care. Go see them, especially, if you haven’t seen them in two and a half years, go see them update, there’s a lot of lagging insight that you, and you know, you as a human didn’t stop growing or evolving. And it’s time to go get checkup, so go see that. So that’s my message to you as a patient. Two, my message to health plans as well as to pharmaceutical companies, you have a trusted center of excellence for chronic care management, chronic diseases in Cecelia Health. Reach out to us, talk to us, we’ll help you understand the landscape, understand how those mechanisms run because we have this unique position of sitting between, we understand pharma’s needs, we understand health care institutions’ needs, the lingo that are used, etc. So reach out to us, we’re a good resource for that. How you can find us? Of course, CeceliaHealth.com, we’re on LinkedIn, that’s the best place to go find us. You’ll see most of our posts out there and I’ll love to talk to you.

Saul Marquez:
I love it. Mark, listen, I thank you again. And folks, take advantage of the opportunity, explore it. Find out ways you could leverage and expand and scale the personal care that you could be delivering. So, Mark, thank you again, and looking forward to doing this again soon.

Mark Clermont:
Yeah, fantastic. Thanks again, Saul.

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Things You’ll Learn:

  • Hybrid care can deliver the same emotional attachments and tech support.
  • 31% of people don’t remember their care plan when they leave the clinical office.
  • Cecelia Health is working towards simplifying health care to improve the education and support for those struggling to manage their disease.
  • Human connection and relationship building are something that patients appreciate from their healthcare providers today.
  • Clinical data availability allows patient information to flow between providers, improving the patient’s experience when navigating the system.

 

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