Use technology to manage your customer-centric strategy

Hoag’s chief digital officer, Kathy Azeez-Narain, shares how the healthcare system has developed an app to strengthen the connection with its users and keep them connected to their health.

Today’s healthcare consumer is more technological and connected than ever. They want to be involved in the way their care is provided. They want more than just a transactional relationship with their primary care physician. They want options and they want to be up to date.

To keep up with their patients, health systems are developing new strategies that focus on the connected user. This includes developing patient portals and digital health applications that connect the patient to the provider at any time and place.

Katie Aziz-Narain, vice president and chief digital officer for Hoag, a regional health system in Orange County, California, helped develop Hoag Compass as part of their consumer strategy. The application and the services provided help to connect patients with their health and to strengthen the relationship between patients and doctors.

Azeez-Narain recently spoke with HealthLeaders about the app’s success to date and offered its thoughts on consumer-focused technology that is integrated into healthcare.

This transcript has been edited for clarity and brevity.

HealthLeaders: What do you think of healthcare organizations that use technology to be more consumer-focused?

Katie Aziz-Narain: Obviously something is needed right now. While you think about where healthcare is, consumer demand and patients’ expectations of what the healthcare experience should be for them are high on the list.

Healthcare has been on this journey for some time. COVID is also likely to accelerate where the consumer market is now more demanding: I want things that are more affordable and convenient. I want to be able to reach doctors in different environments, not just in the traditional office environment. Technology has a crucial role to play in creating a consumer-oriented strategy; it is necessary while we think about what lies ahead. But beyond that, it has become almost a bet for us to be able to compete in today’s market.

HL: What trends do you see in the digital space for consumers?

Aziz Narain: AI plays a critical role today in the way we use our data and how personalized we can be in our reach and in our products that users will interact with.

Models of virtual primary care and models of virtual pharmacy, they are high on the list and there is a demand from users. A big one that has emerged recently is in the area of ​​behavioral health and mental health and the support for this whole community to be virtualized. COVID has shed light on tools like Talkspace, Headspace, etc. that people can touch, and now you hear more and more about companies heading in that direction.

So, a lot of trends from the world of AI to different models of care and [we are] virtualizing them to build new niches that use digital technology to reach patients about the episodic and / or pre-episodic care they may be looking for.

HL: Why did Hoag create Compass and what sore points do you hope to solve with it?

Aziz Narain: I joined Hoag in 2020 at the height of the pandemic, and it was a newly created role in the organization that I joined and took over. Its purpose was to answer the problems that exist for our customer base, where digital solutions can be built to help solve them.

Overall, the strategy is around what are the real problems we see in the Orange County market from patients that exist today and / or new members and customers of the community. What do they want? How does digital help support this?

Step A did an array of research to listen and understand the needs there. What do people want? What problems do they still face in healthcare? Through this set of research, we have come to findings that people still want us to focus on and / or decide for.

A couple I can think of in my head [are centered around how the patient/doctor relationship has changed:

  • Patients don’t want to just see their doctor once a year in one facility; they want to be able to communicate and have a dialogue with and reach them in between visits.
  • Patients want the opportunity to book an appointment or to see their medical record.
  • Patients don’t want a transactional relationship with their physician.

Compass was born out of those ideas and feedback that we got from the community in the consumer market space. What we drill down into is there’s this need from the market for Hoag to step into a relationship with patients pre-anything going wrong.

Compass embodies three pillars:

The first pillar embodies the accessibility area, which I would say is your logistical tasks that you might want to do, including meeting the doctor virtually, setting up appointments, looking at health records, and filling prescriptions.

The second pillar is the relationship with that physician and being able to build a relationship beyond just the moments of the visit, including messaging between visits.

The third pillar is continued access right into our world class care model and a larger care team. With Compass Plus, you get a care coordinator who gets to know you one-on-one and helps you at all the logistical things you’re trying to take care of as it relates to your healthcare. You also get access to three health coaches and a registered dietician, exercise, and mindfulness coach.

We have patients on the app already that are coming to the Newport Beach Hoag On-Demand Care and Innovation Center that opened as part of the Compass offering. We have people already signed up on Plus that are talking to the coaches. Their feedback has been positive, and we’ve heard they feel connected to this larger care team and the accessibility of getting all of those things through the device, as well as feedback around experience.

We’re trying to also ensure that as we add features, and as we think about what we’re hearing and learning, that the user experience remains best-in-class and we continue to focus on that as a pillar.

HL: How do the different versions of the app work?

Azeez-Narain: There are two parts.

1. “Base model”

You can form a relationship with one of our primary care physicians here and you can download the app to be able to do all the accessibility pillar things that we talked about. [You can] book your time, you will see the summary of your visit, [ and] you will be able to see what next steps you need to take.

You can come to the physical place, you can still see your doctor and still have that connection with your doctor. Your access is still available and you still have a deep connection that you can build with your doctor.

2. Plus membership

When you switch to Plus membership, we really go beyond a doctor relationship. When you enter Plus, this is where you will have access to health coaches and your care coordinator, who helps all logistics parts, and they will guide you along the way to make sure you get the care you expect and the quality of care you expected. You get access to the three health coaches, and you get in touch with specialists from a Hoag-accredited specialist if you have to go that route. And you get your care plan, which is that additional component that will make you move to a deeper level of insight into the steps we recommend you take as you strive to achieve these goals. Part of the Plus model is that you get access to the Premier Lounge, which is essentially a space where you can enter and meet the coaches.

I would think of Plus as we are really activating this extra set of things for the overall healthcare concept while your basic model is still there to support you through your relationship with a doctor and you are trying to achieve a normal level of care and Done.

HL: What indicators will you use to track patient satisfaction and performance?

Aziz Narain: In terms of metrics, there are app downloads, usage, how often you log in, etc. But there is a bigger angle that we are looking at. We want to help patients reach the goals they have set, the health outcomes they have set, and we want to make sure that what we build here and what we provide to the community is actually bringing value to them. .

What will take us a while because we need people in the model for a little more before we can get some of that out, will we see the population using these features get more health benefits from it? Are they achieving the goals they were trying to achieve thanks to this model? It comes down to: have we introduced a new model of care to the market that helps life in our community?

Melanie Blackman is a strategic editor at HCL Pro’s HealthLeaders.

Photo: Newport Beach, California / USA – April 18, 2019: Sign in front of the hospital building, known as Hoag / The Image Party /

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