Higi, a Chicago-based health technology company, has unveiled two new digital health management tools. The first is a population screening application that allows health systems, insurance companies and employers to cumulatively track health trends among designated population segments, such as people 50 and older, as well as individuals, from data gathered at higi’s self-service health screening stations.
The second is a platform that provide businesses and organizations to which consumers have an affinity—such as health systems, retailers and sports teams—with the tools to launch an online community to reach consumers looking to take a more active role in their health.
Higi’s population screening application enables healthcare insurers and providers to track consumers at risk for illness or chronic conditions so those patients can be treated sooner, rather than later when their condition may be more acute and costlier to treat. Doing so can lower the overall cost of care, improve patient outcomes and help consumers lead a healthier lifestyle, higi says.
Higi developed its self-service screening program, which features a blood pressure cuff, in response to the burgeoning shift away from fee-for-service-based care toward value-based care as a way to control rising healthcare costs, the company says.
“The 5% of the patient population that represents about 50% of healthcare costs is focused on the most, but people in the remaining 95% continually move in and out of that 5%,” says higi CEO Jeff Bennett. “Identifying which individuals are likely to fall into that 5% through regular screenings can help providers deliver value-based healthcare to improve risk assessment, prioritize patient outreach and improve outcomes.”
About 75% of consumers have not had a health screening performed in more than a year which creates gaps in data used to predict health trends among patient populations, Bennett says.
Patients undergoing a screening at a higi station have their blood pressure and pulse taken, are weighed and have their body mass index calculated. Patients are also asked questions that can determine health risks such as whether they smoke and frequency they drink alcohol. Once a screening is complete payers, employers and healthcare providers can use the information to determine future screening schedules for patient segments and individuals based on the patient’s health and their risk tolerance.
Higi operates about 11,000 health stations located in grocery stores, pharmacies and retailers including Albertson’s, Rite Aid and Sam’s Club. The health stations meet with approval from the Food and Drug Administration, the company says.
Higi’s screening program includes a mobile app patients can synchronize with more than 80 wearable devices to capture data from the device and download it to their health record. Patients can manually add information to the app, such as daily exercise and food intake, and access information about how to live a healthier lifestyle.
Customer relationship management platform provider Salesforce will offer the higi technology as part of its Salesforce Health Cloud mobile application. Healthcare providers using Salesforce Health Cloud will be able to segment patient populations using clinical and non-clinical data, such as diagnoses and demographics, to create targeted approaches for outreach to specific patient segments. Patients 65 and older with diabetes, for example, can be sent follow-up appointment reminders, surveys or educational materials.
“Healthcare providers are under increasing pressure to use modern, smart technology to foster strong patient relationships, says Salesforce chief medical director Dr. Joshua Newman. “In fact, it’s becoming the single biggest differentiator for providers today.”
To conduct a screening across a large population using higi, payers and providers select individuals within a population. Next, targeted individuals receive a call to action, such as an e-mail or phone call, featuring an incentive to visit a higi health station for a free screening. Incentives can include being entered into a contest or earning loyalty points for each visit from the retailer in which the higi health station is housed.
During the pilot stage, higi found that consumers offered an incentive were more likely to visit a higi health station and follow their prescribed screening schedule than those not offered an incentive, Bennett says.
Higi’s online community platform provides community organizers with the tools to engage members in a meaningful way and help members build healthier habits through targeted messaging, incentives, social influence and games, Bennett says. Consumers can access higi communities via the company’s app and website.
Using higi’s platform, community organizers can provide content such as articles, blogs, videos and photos to engage community members.
Community organizers can also create games and challenges in which top performers are ranked on the website to encourage ongoing participation. Bennett says he has spoken with one grocer that is considering a contest that ranks participants based on the volume of healthy foods purchased in it stores each week.
In addition, community members can be rewarded for healthy behavior. A sports team, for example, can offer a pair of free tickets to an upcoming game for community members that undergo a health screening or complete an exercise goal for the week.
Community organizers can also gather feedback from members around health topics by asking them for reviews or to take a survey. Member feedback helps community organizers refine their communication strategies to expand the reach of their community, Bennett says.
“Communities make it fun for consumers to be engaged and the more engaged community members are, the more likely they are to become more physically active, have frequent health screenings and develop healthier habits, all of which can lead to improved health,” Bennett says.
Higi declined to discuss its revenue stream. To date, higi claims more than 40 million people have used its health stations to conduct 190 million biometric screenings for blood pressure, pulse and weight,
Over 4 million people have signed up for a higi account which offers a biometric and activity data feed for personal health management and information sharing with friends, family and healthcare providers, the company says.