Mobe | When access isn’t enough: Solving a paradox to serve…

When access isn’t enough: Solving a paradox to serve healthcare’s hidden population.

By: Chris Cronin, Chief Executive Officer

The way that healthcare is accessed and delivered is in the spotlight. Thanks to technology -- and our recent, collective experiences with stay-at-home orders and social distancing-- healthcare as we know it now extends far beyond the walls of a doctor’s office or hospital. As a nation, stresses on our healthcare system have required us to take a critical eye to how people receive the care they need. But for some people, improving their health isn’t necessarily a question of access.

This group isn’t easily defined by age or health condition. They have a range of socio-economic backgrounds, medical conditions and concerns, but -- most notably -- they share one thing in common: they access the healthcare system frequently, without getting better.

This “hidden” population makes up 5% of those insured through their employers nationally, yet accounts for about 20% of healthcare costs. Compared to the average person, they’re visiting the doctor three times more and filling new prescriptions five more. Their medical and pharmacy claims total about $18,000 a year, compared with an average of about $4,400 for the typical insured individual.

For these individuals, access isn’t the problem -- nor is it providing the solution. They’re already accessing the healthcare system more than most, but aren’t seeing improved health outcomes. In other words, access to doctors, pharmacies and information is a crucial first step -- but alone, it isn’t always enough.

The missing piece is personalized health guidance -- empowering individuals to understand their complete health picture, sustain lifestyle changes, and ask questions about medication, nutrition, stress and exercise -- when and where they need support.

When people in this hidden population receive this kind of additional support the results are incredible. Data prove that personalized, one-to-one guidance from health professionals such as nutritionist, nurses, chiropractors, and pharmacists can make a dramatic impact on people’s health.

What’s more, when they get the support they need to address their health problems, their use of healthcare services and medications often goes down -- resulting in savings without adding any new costs to individuals or the healthcare system. It’s the ultimate win-win.

Through this model, MOBE has saved the system more than $100 million in just 3.5 years. We have brought more than 90,000 members on to our platform offering one-to-one personal guidance on medication, nutrition, fitness and other factors impacting wellness like sleep and mental health – without prescribing, treating or diagnosing. Their stories inspire me every day (you can read more here).

Personalized guidance makes all the difference, and technology has made it possible for us to provide that guidance rapidly and often to people who need it most. It’s the combination of human touch and intuition with big data and digital technology -- and we need both. In the year ahead, the country and world at large will continue to put healthcare innovation in the spotlight, and many challenges remain. If we remember that “access to care” includes more than just the ability to see a doctor or purchase medication -- it also includes readily accessible health and wellness guidance -- I believe that we can truly help people live happier and healthier lives.

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