SMAC and Healthcare: Patient as Consumer, Social Mobility Analytics and Cloud (SMAC), and the Ecosystem of Everything

Healthcare is subject to the simultaneous forces of consumerism and regulation to an unprecedented degree. The patient as consumer, cost pressures and the tenets of meaningful use each demand ubiquitous data availability and nimble data use. The deeply interconnected reality that is modern healthcare is a blend of social media, published assessment, clinical outcomes and consumerism—the ecosystem of everything.

Dr. Samantha-Small-Practice-Owner needs a way to use social media to engage her patients as customers, nearby hospitals as partners, and insurers as enablers. In the increasingly commoditized world of healthcare services, Dr. Samantha-Small-Practice-needs a way of creating a mass customized experience, for all of these groups, while supporting her practice operations. Her patients are on the go—so is she—so her practice needs to be as well, via a strong mobile presence. Samantha needs trustworthy operations and analytics to understand all that social and mobile data coming from her partners, EHR systems, and patients’ on-line behavior. Finally, the good doctor is not an IT professional, so she needs easy infrastructure and 24×7 access in the cloud. This white paper highlights how the Alacer team is working with the healthcare community, technology partners, and patients to create the smart practice, with improved patient experience, integrated operations, and data insights that drive better clinical and compliance outcomes.

In 2012, Michael Vizard, a contributing editor to IT Business Edge indicated that the number of application programming interfaces (APIs) would exceed 5,000. By 2014 his predicted number had been reached and surpassed. Humanity exists in an “everything is connected to everything world” state with ubiquitous access to information of all types, limitless expandability, and bottomless data. The cloud is a playground of consumer connections and increasingly indispensable for business. Cloud is the venue, APIs the means, and the Internet thus becomes a collection of “interconnected things” or IoE. If we think of the holistic healthcare consumer cycle of selection, provision, reporting, a better term might be an “ecosystem of everything” or EoE. This may seem little more than the latest technology tangle, about which only IT companies need worry. That would be dangerous thinking. The consumption of germane and current data resides at the heart of macro-trends in healthcare like HCAHPS, consumer ratings, electronic health records, increasingly complex and specialized health grading services, and of course accreditation and rating agencies.

Getting at data is important yes; but, using it and Sharing data in a meaningful way is tantamount for successful practice. Social Mobile Analytics and Cloud (SMAC) incarnated as a single, integrated model or “stack” is the key to conquering the interconnected-everythingness, untangling that knot and propelling a healthcare practice, clinic, or hospital into a prosperous position. Refining and perfecting SMAC processes, basic technology use, and data use allows Alacer’s clients and their customers a holistic view of life on-line that can be shaped into a purposeful and relevant reality: In other words what the healthcare industry calls meaningful use.

In healthcare’s mandate of meaningful use, data must be gathered, compiled, stored in a common venue, safely, accessible 24×7, and presented in such a way that tells a patient’s story to providers or family. Just now, only healthcare faces this level of legal mandate. However, the demands of modern consumers for mass customization, and pervasive use of connected devices, dictate that a smartSMAC ecosystem and tools create a complete view of patients as customers for meaningful use in all facets of the healthcare cycle. In other words, patient needs and behavior translated into data and used as knowledge to shape service offerings, outcomes reporting, custom ads driven by locale, personalized health outcome experiences, and any number of other fabulous uses.

“We have a mission is to empower its healthcare clients and their customers with knowledge. This mission can only be realized if we empower our customers to seamlessly offer all of a practice’s or clinic’s capabilities through immersion in smart tools, operations, and data. Technology is the ‘glue’ to help healthcare practitioners, clinics and hospitals enable enriched and personalized experiences.” Richard Paxton, CEO, Alacer.

How then, does Alacer, best support SMAC, as that entry mode into the full spectrum of cloud, mobile, social and analytical offerings—the ecosystem of everything (EoE)—so vital to practice and care center success? Centrally, there are two ways: First, Alacer can help a practice or clinical venue achieve this “stacked” effect in terms of data availability and use. Making most of information already available; but not easily usable, is a comfortable starting point for many practitioner and clinical settings. Second, Alacer can help re-imagine the entire end-to-end patient experience and flow, the entire cycle, through care selection, practice offerings, voice of the patient work, and process/reporting automation. In 2014, Alacer personnel guided a large Midwestern healthcare system to better understanding some of the foundationally daunting elements of HCAHPS, reporting, and the patient experience as customer experience—primarily during the care selection and election process. The effort was comprised of four focus areas:

  • The first was an effort to understand the entirety of the healthcare care selection motion as a sales motion, then implementing a tracking system and baseline set of threshold activity scoring.
  • Second, an assessment of patient base and population against IHI triple aim and segmentation.
  • A concurrent effort around data intake, housing, canned and ad-hoc reporting complemented the effort.
  • Finally, an operations redesign within a series of ambulatory clinics to support the patient as consumer life-cycle and webbased integration rounded out the systems and assessment effort to create a true Ecosystem of Everything around patient attainment, servicing and retention.

The initial work was completed in the first half of 2015, and established a foundation for how patient-as-consumer data is gathered, classified, used and measured to improve experience, HCAHPS, compliance and organizational processes as a whole, in lock-step with the spirit and tenets of meaningful use. Finally, Alacer will help this healthcare system challenge some norms about how a large health service organization can look, interact, and move through the world as more of a nimble entity with a consumer relationship, and less of a regulated point of delivery, single instance of use. Patients move through the consumer ecosystem seeking data, connection, partnership and relationship. Alacer assures that healthcare practitioners and institutions can meet those needs, staying relevant, compliant and selected in the Ecosystem of Everything.

By Dr. Amber Gravett