- A group of over healthcare technology CEOs are partnering to help expand patient access to care and patient engagement tools, forming Health Tech 4 Medicaid (HT4M).
The organization, which consists of leaders from some of the biggest healthcare technology firms across the country, will work to make health IT innovation possible for individuals enrolled in a state Medicaid program.
Medicaid is one of the largest insurers in the country, with nearly 75 million, or one in five, Americans enrolled on the plan, HT4M reports on its website.
Six in ten children are enrolled in the Children’s Health Insurance Plan (CHIP) and nearly half of all babies who are born are served by pre-natal Medicaid.
These patients represent populations who experience socioeconomic hardship. Over 37 million enrollees live at or under the federal poverty level. Ten million enrollees are in some way disabled, and 46 percent of services billed to Medicaid are for nursing home services.
Because of these challenges, these populations often fall through the health IT innovation cracks, HT4M said. While most patients do own some sort of smartphone, not all have an up-to-date device or a device with the software necessary for certain patient engagement apps.
Medicaid beneficiaries similarly face barriers in accessing telehealth tools, remote patient monitoring devices, and other patient engagement tools.
The reasons for this are likely twofold. First, Medicaid reimbursement models may not cover the latest technology innovations, leaving patients to go without as they face insurmountable costs.
And when Medicaid does cover some patient costs, the out-of-pocket prices still may be untenable for some patients.
HT4M plans to address those challenges by forging partnerships between health IT innovators, payers, providers, and state Medicaid policymakers.
“Medicaid recipients and traditionally disadvantaged populations are often overlooked by new technology,” said Leah Sparks, Co-Chair of HT4M and CEO of Wildflower Health. “Our goal is to use technology innovation to reimagine how these patients are served.”
Specifically, HT4M says it is trying to “change the pace” of Medicaid innovation. This will require making the Medicaid program more amenable to healthcare technology in such a way that patient access to treatment and technology will improve. This will ideally improve patient access to care, lower healthcare costs, and improve care outcomes.
This group is set to connect the dots between payers, providers, technology developers, and Medicaid policymakers. By driving partnership among each of these varied stakeholders, HT4M hopes to make health IT more accessible for vulnerable patient populations. This will ideally improve care outcomes, make healthcare cheaper for patients, and help connect patients with more treatment options.
“Our members and Advisory Council bring a broad range of expertise, resources and innovation to HT4M,” said Abner Mason, Founder and Co-Chair of HT4M and CEO of ConsejoSano. “We're thrilled to bring the group together to drive real change in technology innovation for Medicaid.”
Other industry leaders have acknowledged Medicaid’s missed opportunities with patient engagement technology.
A January 2018 report from Deloitte outlined how technology can enhance state Medicaid programs, although most states are not utilizing digital health to its fullest potential.
“State Medicaid programs are a prime example of government agencies that don’t appear to be fully realizing the benefits of these new technologies,” the report pointed out. “Given the size, scope, and cost of the Medicaid program, states and the federal government are constantly looking to improve health outcomes for Medicaid members and achieve greater program efficiencies.”
Healthcare industry policymakers must find a way to integrate health IT into Medicaid plans, the Deloitte report continued.
“We're seeing powerful examples of smart technologies being used by health organizations around the globe,” according to William Eggers, the executive director of Deloitte’s Center for Government Insights. “Whether it is on-demand transportation systems for seniors or detecting health hotspots, smart technologies can help state Medicaid systems provide services in new ways that meet patients' changing needs.”
HT4M is addressing beneficiaries’ abilities to access certain technology-fueled treatment options, such as remote patient monitoring or telehealth tools. By partnering with different technology innovators and the Medicaid program, the organization hopes to address these key social determinants of health and allow patients to more fully engage with their wellness plans.