Season 1, Episode 13: Transcript

 In Transcript

Opening

Angela Greenwell:              Welcome everyone. Thanks for joining us. You’re listening to Atlanta Business Impact Radio with Veanne Smith and I am your cohost, Angela Greenwell. Atlanta Business Impact Radio is a podcast that showcases some of Atlanta’s most innovative and forward-thinking business and technology professionals. In our first season, we take a deeper look into the world of Healthcare IT.

In today’s podcast, we discuss the topic of population health programs and health testing and how technology is creating better accessibility inside and engagement to ultimately give us the tools we need to measure and improve our wellness. Both Veanne and I are very excited to welcome as our guest, Pete Desai of BioIQ.

Veanne Smith:                    Welcome everyone. Thanks for joining us. This is Veanne Smith with Atlanta Business Impact Radio. In this episode of our podcast, we will look at the impact of digital technology on population health programs. I’m excited to welcome Pete Desai from BioIQ as our guest today to talk about this topic. Pete is the vice president of Corporate Development and Marketing at Bio IQ. With more than fifteen years of healthcare experience, Pete is responsible for marketing Bio IQ solutions and raising awareness of the company’s mission to connect, measure, and achieve. Prior to Bio IQ, Pete served as Executive Vice President of Health Management Strategy for

Pete is the Vice President of Corporate Development and Marketing at BioIQ. With more than fifteen years of healthcare experience, Pete is responsible for marketing BioIQ solutions and raising awareness of the company’s mission to connect, measure, and achieve. Prior to BioIQ, Pete served as Executive Vice President of Health Management Strategy for

Pete is the Vice President of Corporate Development and Marketing at BioIQ. With more than fifteen years of healthcare experience, Pete is responsible for marketing BioIQ solutions and raising awareness of the company’s mission to connect, measure, and achieve.

Prior to BioIQ, Pete served as Executive Vice President of Health Management Strategy for Alere Health, which was acquired by Optim in 2015. He was responsible for strategic business development while supporting the global health management function to grow services and revenue in targeted geographies outside the United States.

Previously at Alere Health, Pete served in the roles of Senior Vice President of Health Strategy in Global Solutions and Director of Strategy in Business Development. Pete started his career at Accenture, where he took on various roles in the health and life sciences practice. He developed a broad healthcare background, which includes health insurance payers, providers, and health information technologies.

Hello, Pete, and welcome to Atlanta Business Impact Radio.

Pete Desai:                          Thanks for having me. I’m glad to be here.

Veanne Smith:                    Well I’m super excited to have you here today to raise awareness for BioIQ, which is relatively new to Atlanta. I understand that your headquarters is in Santa Barbara, California and that your Atlanta office opened in 2014. You’re experiencing some incredible growth and that’s so exciting. Congratulations on all of that.

Pete Desai:                          Thank you. Yeah, it’s been a great journey and we’ve got a lot of work to do for sure. Our Atlanta office we opened in fall of 2014 and the primary reason for moving here or building an office here was to get access to all the healthcare IT resources that are available here in at Atlanta to us.

Veanne Smith:                    That’s fantastic. We are also so proud of all the healthcare IT. It’s viewed as one of the top industries of growth here in Atlanta. So welcome, we’re so glad to have you here so we’re glad to have you here so we can talk more about BioIQ today.

Pete Desai:                          Sounds great.

What Is Population Health and Population Health Programs?

Veanne Smith:                    So to start out, a lot of times I like to talk about vernacular for those who are listening that don’t sort of understand the things that you do. So let’s start with population health. What is a population health program and how do they work? Just sort of help us understand that for starters.

Pete Desai:                          Yeah, sure. So population health within healthcare is pretty broad but in general its programs that are made available to employees of a small or large employer or a small or large health plan. These programs are in essence attempting to improve an individual’s wellbeing, as we say in our industry. And what that really means is it’s providing, you know, different types of programs for those are doing a great job of maintaining their health and then for those that may have risk for diabetes or cardiovascular disease and also for those that have already acquired one of those diseases.

So it’s a broad array of programs that are made available through employers and health plans to help individuals manage their current wellbeing, if that means improving their physical activity or stress or their diet or it’s helping them manage their diabetes because they’re so overwhelmed with it and the amount of information that’s available to them.

So as a result, all of these programs are really helping individuals improve their wellbeing and make sure that they understand their treatment plans if they have a disease and if they don’t have a disease just to make sure that they have the tools available to them to stay physically active, manage their stress, and their diet, and etc.

What Are the Benefits of Population Health Programs?

Veanne Smith:                    That’s great so it is very clear that there are benefits then to the individual, I would imagine that there are benefits that come to the employers and the groups that are offering this out to the employees. Can you talk about some of those benefits that come to those who are offering these programs?

Pete Desai:                          Yeah, absolutely. From an employer perspective, the benefits are multifold. Part of it is, there’s a lot of data that suggests that healthy employees are more productive employees. So you can imagine that just gaining an hour of productivity on a daily basis over the course of a year multiplied times the number of employees, that can create a monetary amount that’s quite sufficient. In addition, employees are doing a better job of maintaining their health. Usually, that relates overall to a reduction of medical spent for these employees. So there’s both financial savings and productivity savings that are part of these programs.

What Are the Challenges That Population Health Programs Have To Face?

Veanne Smith:                    Outstanding. What are some of the challenges then within the population health arena and what does BioIQ do specifically to address some of those challenges?

Pete Desai:                          The primary challenge in healthcare, in general, is getting individuals to engage and further stay engaged. Often times you’ll see individuals may sign up for a gym exercise or for a program that’s been made available to them and after thirty or forty days it’s difficult to stay motivated.

Veanne Smith:                    We’ve all seen that in the health clubs, right? January 1st everybody’s there and March 1st where did they go?

Pete Desai:                          Exactly. Exactly. So that’s, you know, one of the challenges with healthcare in general. We’re building tools as BioIQ to help keep these individuals stay engaged. From a different perspective, BioIQ is specifically focused on health measurements.

By health measurements I mean measuring different kinds of or collecting different types of blood tests that are made available to the individual so that you can: one, understand what your diabetes or cholesterol levels are and two, you know from that baseline, create a plan for yourself to improve to the degree that that individual needs to improve their glucose levels.

So along those lines, we’ve built a technology system that allows individuals to get measured at one of several location types that I’ll explain a little bit later to ease the whole notion of not having to go to a doctor’s office to get a blood test or not having to go to a lab center to get blood tested.

Veanne Smith:                    So it’s really about wellness. It’s really focused on wellness more than treating, is that correct?

Pete Desai:                          Exactly. We’re enabling the treating community with these health measurements that we’re taking. So for example, a lot of large employers would have a care management organization or a disease management type company that has the clinical resources that are made available to these individuals to really make sure that they understand their treatment plan and they understand what their measurements mean.

What Bio IQ is involved with is getting these individuals to get measured. So that can take the form of one of different types of blood tests, but ultimately the health measurement is not questionable and in our vernacular, measurements and different types of blood tests they drive over 70% of the volume of different types of medical testing and that leads to 70% of the decision-making that’s done by physicians.

Veanne Smith:                    That’s outstanding.

Pete Desai:                          It’s really fascinating that system that we’ve built and how we can leverage it to better equip the care management organizations from a clinical perspective to maintain these individuals.

Veanne Smith:                    So the data becomes really a great asset for you and others to benefit from?

Pete Desai:                          That’s right.

How Do Small and Mid-Size Firms Get Access To These Programs?

Veanne Smith:                    Awesome. Okay, well my understanding if I get this is that what you offer is mostly available to large employers and health plans. I’m wondering what kind of advice you might offer to small to mid-market firms that want to offer similar programs within their organizations. Do you have any advice for that?

Pete Desai:                          Yeah, absolutely. From a mid-market perspective, or what we call a mid-market is usually less than five thousand employees, they’re just as motivated to implement programs as large employers.

What we’re seeing is a pretty significant trend in these types of employers wanting to, you know, help their individuals engage in one of these types of wellness programs. Really, an effective wellness program there’s multiple legs on it.

One of it is building a culture of health within the company and that starts with the leadership down. Two is making sure that a broad array of programs are provided to these companies and in many cases that’s a trend that we’re seeing. And three is making sure that the appropriate endpoints are set so that you can measure the success of the program.

Oftentimes we see these employers just as motivated as large employers to get their biometric screenings done. So we’re quite excited about this space and it’s a space that we’re actively looking to grow for BioIQ.

What Strategies Are Being Used To Encourage Better Engagement?

Veanne Smith:                    Is there, it makes me wonder, is there any gamification to these programs or do you use gamification in any way?

Pete Desai:                          Yeah, so the whole notion of gamification was developed in an effort to keeping members engaged longer in these programs. So along those lines and trying to solve the whole notion of not seeing a significant dropoff in engagement after thirty or sixty days, gamification was introduced.

By way of gamifications that takes multiple forms. There are incentives that are provided or different types of challenges where you can participate in teams, just a lot of user interface type stuff that’s provided on mobile handsets and websites. Bio IQ typically partners with companies that are doing this because there are specific companies that are in our space that do a very good job with it, so rather than trying to build something ourselves that may be not as great as the industry leaders, we’ve chosen the path of really partnering with these companies to create a more comprehensive solution.

Veanne Smith:                    Great, that makes sense. I would suspect that the traditional engagement methods of old are becoming less effective. So would you share, we always like to make it real here, some examples of maybe what was used in the past and how or why digital engagement is critical today to these programs?

Pete Desai:                          Yeah, so where the population health started, it was primarily a paper-based model that led to a more telemonic kind of model. And what I mean by that is, you know initially a flyer was sent in the mail and you were asked to manually sign up for a program. When we found that wasn’t very effective, we developed and that’s when you got the calls from the 1-800, your care teams effectively.

The challenge with that was individuals in their home don’t always have twenty or thirty or forty-five minutes to talk with a nurse because they’re dealing with their day to day life issues. So the call-center model evolved into a more digital focus model and that takes a form of both providing more access to these programs online either on a handset which oftentimes individuals keep in their pocket throughout the day, and / or text messaging type solutions. All of that to meet the individual where he or she is and allow them to engage in the program that’s comfortable for their time as opposed to the time of the calling of the entity.

Veanne Smith:                    So how can an organization encourage an adoption of these digital channels given the age-related differences of the population and the varying levels of technical skill among these members. I would imagine you’ve got to address the folks that are in the sunset years and the young up and comers and the baby boomers. I would imagine there are differences you have to think about that as you’re leveraging technology. Is that a big issue or concern that you deal with?

Pete Desai:                          Yeah, absolutely. It’s a big challenge for our industry because oftentimes a lot of energy and effort is spent into developing a solution and then the solution has to meet the needs of the young and the older and the retired populations, so without a solution that can address the needs of the full gamut there, the solution’s not going to be very effective.

So what we’ve seen there is one of the primary drivers for maximizing engagement for these types of programs is providing simply a type of user interface that’s tailored to the likes of my parents in their seventies and also tailored to my peers who may be in their twenties or thirties. And the different kinds of technology that are available it’s really important for companies like BioIQ are meeting people’s individual needs based on their age, sex, and cultural aspects as well.

Veanne Smith:                    So your company is leveraging technology but you also have to have on your staff, I would assume, the creative user experience talent. I would imagine you’ve got quite a broad range of talent throughout your organization to address that and keep people engaged through your offerings and things like that.

Pete Desai:                          Absolutely. And it would be great to just build a solution and deploy it everywhere, but we’ve had to really focus on the managing solutions to make sure it can meet the needs to the twenty to thirty-year-old segment but also the seventy to eighty-year-old segment.

Veanne Smith:                    Okay. Let’s shift a little bit and talk about HIPAA. What do organizations need to consider in terms of HIPAA compliance when engaging with individuals through these channels?

Pete Desai:                          The primary factor is just making sure that individuals understand that the data is secure and in many cases it’s encrypted as well. And along those lines, knowing whether data is stored locally on a device and/or stored on the cloud, oftentimes you’ll see many healthcare IT solutions are HIPAA compliant. The federal regulations require companies like ourselves to ensure that we’re adhering to the strict standards that are put in place for technology companies like ourselves.

What Do You Think The Future Of Population Health Will Look Like?

Veanne Smith:                    Right, makes sense. I always like to talk about the crystal ball a little bit, at the future. So in your crystal ball, what do you think population health programs are going to look like in the future and how will technology play a part or if you want to share what you see BioIQ doing? Just talk about the future in your mind.

Pete Desai:                          Yeah, healthcare has really evolved in the past several decades moving from the pure-play HMO model health companies use now more consumer-driven models. And putting a lot more emphasis on individual hyper cells and really taking a more active role in the management of your own health. What that’s going to do in my mind and what it’s going to demand in our industry is that there’s more information available to the likes of myself and yourself as well. And in terms of transparency, healthcare is still one of those industries where you go to the doctor’s office and you don’t necessarily know how much you’re going to end up paying. I relate that to consumer expectations when you go to a Target or a Walmart, shopping, I imagine

What that’s going to do in my mind and what it’s going to demand in our industry is that there’s more information available to the likes of myself and yourself as well. And in terms of transparency, healthcare is still one of those industries where you go to the doctor’s office and you don’t necessarily know how much you’re going to end up paying. I relate that to consumer expectations when you go to a Target or a Walmart, shopping, I imagine

I relate that to consumer expectations when you go to a Target or a Walmart, shopping, I imagine a world where if there were no prices on any of the products would you actually buy it? I think that’s where we are with healthcare today. I see transparency being a big component of where we’re gonna go. I also see individuals demanding more from the system itself and wanting to know about themselves. Genetic testing is making a big splash in our industry and as that information becomes available it’s making sure that that information is translated into a way that makes sense to individuals like ourselves who may not have a clinical background, but is also relevant to their clinicians and primary care providers. Healthcare has been lagging in terms of just industries across the countries have been moving, but

Genetic testing is making a big splash in our industry and as that information becomes available it’s making sure that that information is translated into a way that makes sense to individuals like ourselves who may not have a clinical background, but is also relevant to their clinicians and primary care providers. Healthcare has been lagging in terms of just industries across the countries have been moving, but

Healthcare has been lagging in terms of just industries across the countries have been moving, but nonetheless they’re taking the right steps. I see a lot more digitization occurring. Electronic records are primarily used across the majority of hospitals across the US and many physician offices have them as well, and as that becomes more relevant for us I see more individuals taking a more active role in the management of their own health.

Veanne Smith:                    In a change from a generational perspective our younger generation we view it as information is here we can get at it. I’m a consumer. I need to know the prices. Whereas older generations, they just trusted. They went to the doctor’s and they didn’t really ask them any questions today. So I agree with you, we’re a much more consumer-driven healthcare industry today so I think mostly because the information is here and we can learn so much from it so much easier.

Pete Desai:                          That’s right. That’s exactly right. And that has a lot of implications on the provider community as well, and a lot of providers are adopting these digital tools and they’re also taking a more proactive effort in managing individuals who have one or more chronic diseases but also helping those individuals that just want to improve their weight or stop smoking or just improve their overall well-being.

Certainly the technology aspect is going to play a pivotal role and I think what’s going to drive success here is the company that’s going to build something that’s easy to use but meaningful, that way we can drive prolonged engagement as opposed to getting an individual to engage for twenty or thirty days and then not seeing that individual again until the next year comes around.

Veanne Smith:                    Right, absolutely. I agree. And it’s exciting to think that you here in Atlanta, BioIQ is working on just that and making that a priority every day you all go into work so it’s good to know it’s happening right here in Atlanta.

Pete Desai:                          Yeah, we think about user experience daily. We work with employers and health plans but we also work with companies that are providing these different types of health management and we’re working to build better systems for providers that employ the different nurses and phlebotomists that are administering the health tests that they’re equipped with the right user experience and making sure that the solution is available online at an Android tablets so we’re quite excited about that. So as we get more experience and more users on our mobile, we’re focusing on user experience. It’s not going away, it’s just going to get bigger for us.

Closing

Veanne Smith:                    Yeah, outstanding. So this has been really enlightening. It’s been great to have you here. If our listeners would like to reach out to you directly or get more information about BioIQ, where would you send them? How can they learn more?

Pete Desai:                          Yeah, I think that the best place to go to would be bioiq.com. We’ve also got a Facebook page and a Twitter feed as well, but the best place to go would be bioiq.com. We’ve got a lot of resources that are made available, including a Contact Us feature if you want to learn more about the company or the solutions that we’re providing to our different segments if that would be beneficial to you.

Veanne Smith:                    Well, I certainly want to endorse that as well. I did a lot of research and you’ve got a great website with a lot of great content and a lot of great information, and I think it’s very educational, so well done on that.

Pete Desai:                          Thank you very much. It requires a lot of hard work with content. It’s good that day and it gets old the next day.

Veanne Smith:                    No, but it’s good. It’s easy to understand and it, I think, does jump out to the reader so I think you guys did a great job on that. I could understand it, so kudos on that. Well it’s been a real pleasure today having you on Atlanta Business Impact Radio. Thanks so much for joining me.

Pete Desai:                          Thank you.

Angela Greenwell:              You have been listening to Atlanta Business Impact Radio with Veanne Smith and I am your co-host, Angela Greenwell. This program has been brought to you by SolTech. For more information about the podcast or more episodes, you can visit our website at www.soltech.net or find us on iTunes. Thank you for listening and we look forward to having you join us again.

 

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