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Leveraging Low-Cost Technology to Improve Access and Delivery of Care: Voice First Healthcare
Episode 570

Mika Eddy, Clinical Product Innovation at UnitedHealthcare

Leveraging Low-Cost Technology to Improve Access and Delivery of Care: Voice First Healthcare

In this podcast, Mika Eddy, Director of Clinical Product Innovation at UnitedHealth Group, discusses how United is focused on driving preventative care to help lower cost and improve the quality of the care delivered in and across our system. She shares her thoughts on solutions to improve patient experience, changes in the healthcare system brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, and possible integrations that will go a long way to helping people be healthy. Tune in to hear our interview with the exceptional Mika Eddy!

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Leveraging Low-Cost Technology to Improve Access and Delivery of Care: Voice First Healthcare

Episode 570

About Mika Eddy
Mika is the Director of Clinical Product Innovation at UnitedHealth Group. Previously, she has served as a health care leader at various businesses. She was the Interim Chief Executive Officer at DeciBio and also Head of Product Strategy. Before that, she was a Fulbright Research Fellow with the U.S. Department of State, and THE Director of Business Development and Partnerships at Nephosity.

Mika received her Bachelor’s Degree in Human Biology at Stanford University.

 

Leveraging Low Cost Technology to Improve Access and Delivery of Care: Voice First Healthcare with Mika Eddy, Clinical Product Innovation at UnitedHealthcare transcript powered by Sonix—easily convert your audio to text with Sonix.

Leveraging Low Cost Technology to Improve Access and Delivery of Care: Voice First Healthcare with Mika Eddy, Clinical Product Innovation at UnitedHealthcare was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the latest audio-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors. Sonix is the best audio automated transcription service in 2020. Our automated transcription algorithms works with many of the popular audio file formats.

Saul Marquez:
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Saul Marquez:
Welcome back to the Outcomes Rocket, Saul Marquez is here and today I have the privilege of hosting Mika Eddy. She is the Director of Clinical Product Innovation at UnitedHealth Group. Previously, she has served as a health care leader at various different businesses. Previously, she was the interim Chief Executive Officer at DeciBio and also head of Product Strategy, previous Fulbright Research Fellow, United States Department of State, and also Director of Business Development and Partnerships at Nephosity. Her experience spans the health care sphere across different categories, but also internationally. And today we’re going to be diving into areas of expertise on digital health and patient engagement. So it’s a privilege to have you join us today. Thank you.

Mika Eddy:
Thanks, Saul. Great to be here.

Saul Marquez:
So absolutely in you know, before we dive into some of the innovative things you and your team are doing to better leverage technology to engage patients, I’m curious what inspires your work in health care?

Mika Eddy:
Yeah, so happy to be here and thanks for the opportunity. I think two things have always sort of driven me personally in health care. One, I’ve always just been fascinated by science. I mentioned to you I grew up in Japan and then went to the Bay Area for college there and majored in human biology and was particularly interested in understanding the epigenetics of disease and the interaction between biology and the environment and especially being in Silicon Valley and against the backdrop of the tech explosion or continuation of that explosion. The environment was really enabled and enhanced by biotech. And so I think having the opportunity to create impact at scale within health care and to leverage that low-cost technology to provide solutions to those that may slip through the cracks in our existing or traditional health system. Those who may not have a voice at the table on how health care gets accessed and delivered. I think those two things always drove me to do what I’m doing today, as well as some of the career decisions that made previously and along the way.

Saul Marquez:
That it’s so interesting, you know, just everything that was going on in that area. You were studying human biology. It just kind of worked out so well. And now you’re so deep into some of the health care insights, you know, the work that you did at DeciBio and now UnitedHealth Group. Talk to us a little bit about how you and your team are working to add value to that group of people that really don’t have as good of a place at the table, as you mentioned.

Mika Eddy:
Sure. So from a population health perspective, I’m part of the UnitedHealth clinical services population health innovation team. So from that perspective and in my role, we’re really focused on driving preventative care to help lower cost and improve the quality of the care delivered in our system and across our system. So for patients that a lot of our initiatives are focused on guiding patients towards high quality, lower cost care in a more intuitive way. The one example of that is a patient-provider match. So thinking about how do we leverage various data points and all of the proprietary data sets that we have the privilege of having access to in order to route and guide a patient to the best quality provider, for example. Or making it easier to do and frequent, more painful actions in our health system, whether it’s checking on an order prescription or estimating the cost of care ahead of a visit, things that end up taking a lot of time that really shouldn’t take a lot of time even finding a doctor. I have a lot of friends who have no idea how to find a provider and they’re my age or even younger and more tech-savvy. And they’re like, do I Google it and have to call the number on the back of my card? Why does it take half an hour to find a doctor in network who accepts your plan? So for these simple tasks that do end up being unfortunately quite painful, how do we make it easier for patients? And then on the cost front. Finally, again, how do we help improve transparency so patients know about the cost of care ahead of a visit? When do we suggest a virtual care visit so that a patient doesn’t have to travel in to see a doctor? And that helps to save costs for both the patient as well as across the system? Shifting perspective, thinking from a provider perspective, how we add value. And I think it really centers around helping providers do what’s most important to providers, right., which is improving the health of their patients. So some of the things that we focus on are some stats that, you know, medication adherence is responsible for about 10 percent of all hospital admissions for older adults. Or not taking medications as prescribed resulted in unnecessary health spending, the amount of two hundred billion each year that comes from AHIP. And then there are things that are less measurable, like a post health care plan for that, a provider put together and they need to deliver to patients in a timely fashion. How do we maximize the chance that a patient will follow through on a care plan and improve the likelihood of a positive outcome? And how do we make it easier to deliver that information in a seamless way for then users or for the patient?

Saul Marquez:
Yeah, there are so many challenges that could be made easier. And, you know, you think of them as things that shouldn’t be hard, like finding a doctor or taking your medicine, right?

Mika Eddy:
Exactly. So how do we get in a way that I think from in my role and a small slice of what we do as a large organization, an entity like United how do we remove friction points so that patients can achieve what they set out to? Right. And most patients do, would they want to improve their health and live healthier lives and so on. But how do we remove friction points and again, make it easier for individuals to complete the intended health goals for sure.

Saul Marquez:
And so, Mika, how would you say, you know, through the work that you’ve done or innovations that you’ve implemented, you’ve improved outcomes or even made business models better?

Mika Eddy:
Yes, I think several of the solutions specifically here, what I’m currently working on, a lot of the solutions are newer and still and we’re still testing and measuring this. But in terms of yeah, in terms of metrics or improved outcomes, we look for how does this improve the patient experience? Do we reduce the number of people needed to intervene and provide support for tasks that are pretty easily scalable through existing technology can measure? Are we guiding patients towards higher quality, lower cost care? And from a business perspective, are we able to accomplish things like reduce readmissions or improve medication adherence, for example, the results of the solutions that we are working on.

Saul Marquez:
For sure. And as you think about the backdrop of COVID and things that are faced, you know, we’re faced with all as individuals, organizations, payers, providers. What would you say has been one of the biggest lessons during this time?

Mika Eddy:
Yeah, that’s a great question. And I think that also ties into speaking about the pandemic and COVID ties into some of the setbacks. And I think one thing that’s been really interesting is, you know, the pace is traditionally one of the biggest bottlenecks. We’ve just the pace of change in health care system. When I was at Bossidy doing the cloud-based medical imaging, we developed solutions that were optimized, for example, for Chrome and for Firefox, and yet the providers we were partnering with were all still entrenched in Internet Explorer and getting, you know, we had to align stakeholders in order to even access Chrome and enable our solution. And so I think that sort of has traditionally been a key bottleneck. But then in times like we’re seeing today now at COVID, this really is sort of telehealth, remote patient monitoring. This is the moment right. Things have accelerated so quickly and be able to align stakeholders at unprecedented speeds. So I think that’s been an interesting thing to experience. And I think another key lesson is just that people really do want to, for example, lose weight or make it to their doctor’s appointments or follow the medication plan that their doctors put them on. And they are well-intentioned, but they’re not going to go out of their way to do it if it’s not easy and if it’s not easy, it’s not going to get done. And so I think that’s really driven a lot of the decisions from a product perspective, too, like how do we make the solution so easy The patients actually use it and then at the same time satisfying their legal hurdles. And given the tendency to litigate in our health care system, that can really slow innovation and can really choke what may really benefit patients and ultimately our health system in the long run. So, yeah, I think there’s the key learning now.

Saul Marquez:
Those are great learnings. And I’ve reflected on this era and what we’re faced with and that Darwin quote keeps coming up. It’s not the smartest. It’s not the strongest, but the most adaptable that survive. And the adaptability that we’re faced with as a health care society, a health care group, stakeholders’ is that we have to figure it out. You know, telemedicine and remote monitoring are a must.

Mika Eddy:
Right.

Saul Marquez:
And so have you seen a bigger appetite from stakeholders to try new things? And then also the follow-up question to that would be, “How sticky is it going to be?” You think it’s going to stick?

Mika Eddy:
Yeah. So definitely a huge jump in engagement from providers and motivation to shift practices online and offer telehealth and remote patient monitoring solutions. I think post’s COVID in kind of its new normal that we’re calling it. We’ll see a bit of a drop. But you can’t go from such a small base of a four thousand percent increase or so, for example. And then go back to that small base like three or four percent adoption. So it is I think telehealth for sure is here to stay in terms of the remote patient monitoring. I think it’s again, the bottlenecks are legal hurdles as well as how quickly we can integrate some of these devices and solve challenges related to interoperability, for example, in order to, again, provide solutions that people actually want to use. And I think that’s one of the things that I’m particularly excited about looking for is just this emergence of remote patient monitoring solutions and integration of smart home tech with health care and the medical practice.

Saul Marquez:
Like you’re talking voice smartwatches. The long list of wearables.

Mika Eddy:
Yeah, voice can be the gateway. You’re kind of the Trojan horse where once you have that the voice assistant in the home, you can now start integrating your other devices with the smart scale or, you know, even like, why do you need to go to the doctor to do a urinalysis? Maybe you can integrate that through Toto toilet, for example, and maybe you can pick up on some biomarkers and have those results sent to your provider and enable the provider to monitor abnormal readings or deviations from baseline and make sense of it and communicate with you if something’s wrong, as opposed to making you wait until you’re at your annual checkup to find out that something may be off. So I think those are all really interesting and exciting areas that we’ll see more and more of is situations like the one we’re in necessitate care at home and remote monitoring.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah. And, you know, the thing that I really like about that Mika is you think about the folks that really are maybe working two or three jobs that really can’t afford to go see a doctor,

Mika Eddy:
Right. Exactly. Yeah. It’s interesting to see a lot of these remote devices or even voice assistance, the use of voice assistance in health care. I think there was a voice bot report that came out towards the end of last year, that shows that lower household income households are individuals do over index on use of voice assistance, specifically for health care, and that may be because they’re less likely maybe they don’t trust the system, as I mentioned earlier, and they don’t want to pay that co-pay and it’s easy to just ask for a voice assistant already integrated on the device in your pocket or sitting in your home. And so I think it was specifically less than 50 K household income versus over two hundred K, and there is like a seven percent or so increase or greater adoption among the lower-income households.

Saul Marquez:
So interesting.

Mika Eddy:
To your point, definitely. How do we reach people who are traditionally not served well or ignored by our system?

Saul Marquez:
That’s awesome. Yeah, the promise is huge and it’s about bridging that gap between access and meeting people where they are. And I think it’s so promising and exciting to hear that you guys are working on these things and encouraging the providers and also the members on your plan to engage with these, because we all want to be healthy. At the end of the day, it’s just getting the right way to get and stay healthy. That’s going to make the difference. Super exciting. I appreciate you sharing these things that you guys are up to. If you had to leave us with the closing thought, what would that be? And then the last thing would be if the listeners wanted to continue the conversation with you, where could they do that?

Mika Eddy:
Sure. Yeah. And just on your previous point, I think one thing, too, is that we have to payers especially work with provider groups and partner with providers Right. in order to help patients to achieve better outcomes and live healthier lives. The patients ultimately trust their doctors right there, right at the top of the list in terms of who patients trust. And I think tech is at the bottom and payers or somewhere in the middle. But I think that’s extremely important. I would say just what we touched on. How do we make sure that the solutions we’re developing, whether it’s in telehealth or remote monitoring, and when we’re leveraging new and exciting technology to scale access to care, just how do we make sure we’re inclusive and reaching the people who need it most? Whether that’s incorporating, you know, multi-language support or providing data transparently to patients so that they feel included and not taken advantage of. And again, how do we make it so easy, so seamless, that with minimal thought or effort, consumers are continuously improving their mental, physical, emotional health and reducing risk of developing chronic conditions and diseases but that are really plaguing our country. And ultimately everything else is built upon the foundation of whether an individual is healthy or not. So. So those are the things that, yeah, I think about and the group that I work with that we’re really focused on in terms of contact I’m on Twitter, my handle at Mika Stephanie at LinkedIn. You can find me under Mika Eddy.

Saul Marquez:
Outstanding. Well, Mika, thank you. And it’s certainly exciting to hear about the work that you and your team are up to help us, you know, help us be healthier and meet us where we are for our health. Certainly, these times, while they’re providing challenges, it’s great to know that companies like UnitedHealth Care and leaders like yourself are working to pave a bright future for all of us. So I can’t thank you enough for spending time with us here today.

Mika Eddy:
Thanks so much Saul. Great, great podcast. And I’m glad you’re highlighting these important initiatives. So thank you.

Saul Marquez:
My pleasure.

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Things You’ll Learn

  • Find ways to remove friction points and make things easy for patients.
  • The tendency to litigate in our health care system can slow innovation and choke what may benefit patients and ultimately the health system in the long run.
  • Make sure that the technology we are using includes and reaches the people who need it most.

 

Reference
https://www.unitedhealthgroup.com/