Oct 3, 201711:59 AMInside Wisconsin
with Tom Still
Quietly but steadily, health care innovation isn’t waiting for Congress to act
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The logjam in Washington, D.C., over federal health-care policy might lead some people to fear the Obamacare stalemate threatens to stifle innovation from top to bottom in health care.
Not so. At least, not in Wisconsin.
The latest effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act is emblematic of deep political divisions over how best to provide health-care coverage to millions of Americans. However, that debate is not standing in the way of hospitals, medical professionals, insurers, entrepreneurs, and others from working on better, more efficient ways to care for patients.
That was evident last week in some massive settings, such as Epic System’s annual user group meeting in Verona. CEO Judy Faulkner challenged her company’s electronic health record customers to think about patients as not just a collection of “big data” but as people with health concerns and conditions that may be improved through emerging technologies.
Health-care innovators in other settings are also not content to wait for Congress to design a better way. Another close-to-home example involves WEA Trust, a health insurance carrier for many public employees, and Kiio, a young company with a novel patient engagement platform.
WEA Trust has invested $1 million in Madison-based Kiio to further develop its platform for involving patients in their own care through mobile technology and evidence-based treatment that can prevent more expensive care while yielding better results.
The insurance company will be more than a passive investor; it will become a customer for Kiio as it expands its platform from conditions such as lower back pain, joint replacement, and physical rehabilitation to other protocols.
Kiio’s lower back pain screening, assessment, and exercise program has already shown results, diverting costly procedures such as imaging, surgeries, and specialty visits while helping patients deal with pain and dysfunction. Because back surgeries don’t always work the first time — or at all — the process saves money and frustration for all involved.
“We see the Kiio platform as becoming an engagement tool for our members across a broad spectrum of their health needs,” says Michael Quist, president and chief executive officer for WEA Trust. “It’s really limitless in terms of how it can be used to engage with patients.”
It’s also an example of how health care is moving from a bricks-and-mortar model that assumes all care takes place within a clinic or hospital to a future in which patients can get care where they work, at home, or anywhere else that technology allows them to take an on-demand role in their own health.