Hawai’i is leading the way in digital health and other ways to cut costs. HPR’s Wayne Yoshioka reports.
The Hawai’i Medical Service Association – HMSA – is the first health insurance provider in the nation to partner with Sharecare, a company that has developed a smart phone app that consolidates wellness data and medical diagnoses in a single platform. Jeff Arnold is Sharecare’s CEO.
“We track your daily activities. You know, so what are your steps, your sleep and your stress. If you need coaching, we have hundreds of nurses that help people through their smart phone and chat box. And then, when you’re not feeling well, you can just go to the platform and say, here’s my chief complaint; we ask you questions; and in less than 3 minutes we tell your likely cause and help you know what to do about it.”
Sharecare can also help locate doctors and make appointments. HMSA president and CEO, Mike Stollar, says digital caregiving engages people every day to improve their health, not only when they’re sick.
“This is one of many things to what we call, ‘Bend the Trend.’ You know, with an aging population, with new pharmaceuticals, with new technologies emerging in healthcare delivery, we have to try to tackle every aspect of healthcare and where it’s going in term of controlling cost. But it starts with, if we can make ourselves healthier, then there’s less demand and less strain on the the system as a whole.”
Expanding the scope of care for healthcare practitioners can also improve efficiency. Carolyn Ma, dean of the School of Pharmacy at U-H Hilo, says a one-year residency program could cut some of the 1.3 billion dollars spent on prescription medications in Hawai’i.
“Because some of these drugs are so expensive, especially in the specialty areas like psychiatry, cancer therapy, HIV Aids, Hepatitis. If you have a pharmacist addressing this to make correct drug selection and to help with these high cost drugs, that can be beneficial as well.”
The State of Reform Health Policy Conference brought nearly 300 attendees together to collaborate on healthcare solutions. Organizer and host, DJ Wilson, says the time to act is now.
“Over 50 percent of the states have budget deficits. And this is a great economy. So when the economy slows down again, we’re gonna be in a world of hurt and you’re gonna see that pinch in Medicaid, commercial and Medicare insurance. So we gotta make sure we’re working together so that when the bad times come, we’re ready for ‘em.”
For HPR News, I’m Wayne Yoshioka.